Port Huron, MI-
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Pioneers were sitting in fourth place in the MCCAA Eastern Conference standings. They would have a tough task ahead of them if they wanted to remain in the top four spots heading into post-season. The first hurdle along the way would be to take down a scrappy, sharp shooting St. Clair Community College ball club. It would be the Skippers final home game of the season so the sophomores would be looking to finish their careers on a high note.
The Skippers would jump out to an early 5-0 lead but a Justin Person three pointer followed up by a Martel Handley jump shot got the Pioneers going offensively and they only trailed 8-5 with fifteen minutes to play. The St.Clair lead would get as big as six points but a Virgil Walker Jr. offensive rebound and put-back capped off a 14-8 run and tied the game at 21-21. The Delta Men would end the half on a 10-3 run. A Justin Person three-point basket and a Leonte Parker lay-up gave the Pioneers a 31-24 halftime lead.
The teams would trade baskets for most of the beginning part of the second half and the Pioneer lead remained at seven until the ten minute mark. A Martel Handley steal and lay-up gave the Pioneers their biggest lead of the night 49-38 with less than nine minutes to play. On a well-executed baseline out of bounds play, Leonte Parker found Cedric Moten for a lay-up and the Pioneer lead remained at ten, 55-45 with less than 5 minutes to play. With a minute to play, two free throws by Virgil Walker Jr. gave the Pioneers a 65-58 lead. The Skippers would capitalize on several missed free throws and Pioneer turnovers and with eight seconds left they had the ball and were down only two, 65-63. On the final possession, the Pioneers locked down and played relentless defense forcing a deep three that missed preserving the win for the Delta men.
"We played really well on the defensive end tonight," said Head Coach Carlos McMath. "The three pointers that we gave up were all well contested and tough shots to make. Our offensive execution wasn't as good as it could be. We were looking to exploit mismatches but we didn't execute our offense well enough and run through it hard enough."
The Pioneers were led by Martel Handley's 25 points. Virgil Walker Jr. added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Torandis Mack brought a spark off the bench with 9 points. On the night, the Pioneers dominated the bench points (17-8) and points in the paint (44-16).
"At this time of the year, we are just looking to be at least one point better than our opponent" said McMath. "We need to win games to advance and that is the bottom line."
The Pioneers (16-6, 8-6) will host Macomb Community College (17-9, 10-4) on Monday night. In their first match-up the Monarchs defeated the Pioneers 83-80. Macomb is currently tied for second place in the MCCAA Eastern Conference standings with Schoolcraft. Monday night will be the last regular season home game for the Pioneers and they will pay tribute to their sophomores before the game. Game time is set for 7:30 pm.