STERLING – Devin Mottet’s name should be mentioned first when talking about Sycamore’s 76-49 win over Sterling on Tuesday at Musgrove Fiedlhouse.
The 6-foot, 2-inch junior forward had 24 points in just less than three quarters of play before being removed with the game well in hand.
He finished his final play several rows up in the bleachers behind the Spartans’ hoop after chasing a loose ball, and then limped slightly back onto the court. Before the inbounds pass, he had taken his spot on the bench.
Mottet did all that while battling through illness.
“He hasn’t felt good all day,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said, “but he played an outstanding game. He finished really well around the basket and kicked it out to shooters when he was covered.”
The rotation of the ball from the post to awaiting shooters behind the arc is what broke the game open in the second quarter.
The Warriors (9-15) had climbed to within nine points at 35-26 with about 3 minutes left in the half, when Sycamore center Scott Nelson rifled a pass out to Nicholas Feuerbach for a 3-pointer. Another post-to-guard exchange on the next possession resulted in a 3 by David Compher.
“We weren’t playing defense,” Sterling senior Zach Rehmert said. “We wanted to double down on No. 40 [Nelson], but then he’d kick it out. It just seemed like they were getting tons of open shots.”
The two 3s ignited an 11-0 run that lasted the rest of the quarter, giving Sycamore (15-9) a 46-26 lead. They scored the first six points of the second half to go up 52-29 before Sterling’s Alex Soriano ended the drought with a 3 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.
“Our offense ran very well tonight,” Stacy said. “Probably about as well as it has all season. Our defense was slow to start, but did a better job in the second quarter of denying them layups. But it did seem like once we hit those two 3s, we were able to take control.”
Sterling kept it close for most of the first quarter by finding lanes to the basket. Soriano, Chase Shetter and Cornell Hartz each scored with layups, and Micah Miller had a pair field goals thanks to passes from guards.
The Warriors trailed 14-12 with 2 minutes left, but Sycamore finished the quarter strong with nine straight points.
“We’re just still really young,” Rehmert said. “Most of our roster is still playing its first season on varsity, and we haven’t really learned yet how to stop teams when they get on runs like that.”
Rehmert led Sterling with 13 points. Sterling’s JD Sheppard had a strong fourth quarter with 11 points, two rebounds and two blocks.
Compher finished with 11 points, and Ben Nieman added nine for the Spartans.
Star of the game: Devin Mottet, Sycamore, 24 points, 2 steals
Key performers: David Compher, Sycamore, 11 points; Zach Rehmert, Sterling, 13 points, 3 rebounds
Up next: Sterling at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. Friday