University Center, MI-
The Delta College men's basketball team had lost back to back games by a total of six points. They were in dire need of getting a win and getting back on track. If the Pioneers wanted to remain in the hunt and finish near the top of the MCCAA Eastern Conference, Wednesday night's game was a must win. Having been ranked just outside the top 25 for most of the season, the St. Clair County Community College Skippers would prove to be a tough opponent for the Pioneers.
The first four minutes would be dominated by the Pioneers and a put back by Deon Gray made the score 8-0. The Skippers would counter with a 12-4 run and at the twelve minute mark of the first half the score was tied 12-12. St. Clair would get hot from behind the three-point line and build their lead up to eight points, 26-18 with seven minutes remaining. Back to back three pointers by Leonte Parker and a jumper by Brandon Brackett brought the Pioneers back and tied the game at 26-26. The Skippers would end the half on a 10-2 run and take a 41-33 lead into the locker room.
"In the first half we battled some foul trouble," said Head Coach Carlos McMath. "We let their shooters get open looks and they made shots. We hit the reset button at halftime and the guys responded in the second half."
After the first four minutes of the second half, the Pioneers would find themselves still down seven, 46-39. A key defensive play by Peyton Miller got the energy going and changed the momentum in favor of the Delta men. Leonte Parker found Jalen Fykes for a dunk and a Martel Handley steal and lay-up would cap off a Pioneer 10-2 run and the Pioneers would take the lead 49-48. A Torandis Mack three-point play sparked another 10-0 run and the Delta men led 60-50 at the ten-minute mark of the second half. With five minutes remaining, a Mack lay-up would give the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night 69-56. The Skippers would battle back but a key bucket by Cedric Moten would put an end to the St. Clair comeback bid and the Pioneers would snap their losing streak with a 79-72 victory.
"Our defense really stepped it up in the second half," said McMath. "We overcame our sluggish first half and really got it going. A lot of guys stepped up tonight and it was truly a team win."
The Pioneers had a balanced scoring attack with seven guys scoring eight or more points. Leading the way was Martel Handley with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Leonte Parker had 10 points and Virgil Walker added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Pioneers (11-3, 3-3) will travel to Macomb on Saturday afternoon. The Monarchs (9-9, 2-4) have a talented roster but have lost several tight games and have struggled to find the win column early in the conference season. Game time is 3:00 on the campus of Macomb Community College.