Mt. Clemens Turns up Pressure to Topple Rochester High

Dwight Sanders is not Mt. Clemens’ normal three-point marksman. On Thursday night, he was dead-on from downtown when it counted most. The senior guard drilled his only three-pointer of the contest with 53.2 second left to give his team a 45-44 lead and the Bathers went on to record a 47-44 victory over host Rochester in the finals of the Rochester Holiday Classic. 

“He’s not our best three-point shooter. He usually makes about one a game,” said Mt. Clemens coach Kurt Wilson, who team finished 18-6 last season and reached the Class B regional finals. “He made it when we really needed it. That was the only one he made.”

Sanders was 1-of-2 from outside the arc and finished the night with 13 points overall on 4-for-12 shooting and 4-of-5 shooting from the foul line. For good measure, he added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Thomas Hannah led Mt. Clemens with 20 points and five rebounds and AJ Wilson added 10 points, as Sanders, Wilson and Hannah combined for 43 of their team’s 47 points.

Mt. Clemens opened the game with a 16-4 run and led 16-7 after the first quarter, forcing the Falcons into eight first-quarter turnovers. Rochester responded with what Falcons coach John Pleasant called his team’s “best quarter this season”, going on a 20-4 spurt in the second quarter to take a 27-20 lead the break.

Junior forward Taylor Perry scored 14 points on the run, as Rochester (1-3) turned the tables of the game in the second frame.

In the third quarter, the two teams played at an even pace, with Rochester holding a 37-31 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Mt. Clemens turned up the heat defensively in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Falcons 16-7 in the final frame.

After Rochester Paris Pereira gave the Falcons a 44-40 lead with a three-pointer with 2:45 left, the Falcons went ice cold. Mt. Clemens’ Hannah converted two free throws, followed by Sanders’ triple and Hannah’s two more free throws with 17.4 ticks left.

Pereira’s three-point attempt with two seconds left rimmed out, as Mt. Clemens staved off the Falcons in the waning seconds.

Mt. Clemens’ goal is to make life miserable for its opponents in its fourth quarter. The Bathers forced Rochester into five turnovers in the fourth period, took a charge, and held the Falcons to only 3-for-11 shooting in the stanza. Rochester also finished 0-for-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

“We’re a fourth-quarter team,” said Wilson. “We take a lot of pride in how we play in the fourth quarter. I thought we won this game with our (defense) in the fourth quarter.”

Rochester had lost three games by a combined 12 points this season and its only win was a three-point victory in overtime. The Falcons are still learning how to win.

“Our record in these non-league games isn’t all that important. We’ve been in four close games which I think will help us later in the season,” said Pleasant. “Even in this tournament, we played in two games (both) decided by three points. We beat Detroit City 56-53 (in the semifinals). I think this team is just not used to winning. We are going to have to learn from this and how to win some of these close games.”

Perry finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, Billy Klotz scored seven with four assists and Pereira followed with seven points for Rochester.

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