Down by three points with 10 seconds left in the game, Michael Scarlett CM ’18 inbounded the ball for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s basketball team (9-10, 4-7 SCIAC). He immediately flashed to a spot six feet beyond the three-point line, setting his feet just in the knick of time to catch a perfect pass back from Shelby Lane CM ’16. It was 61-64, Occidental College's men’s basketball team (10-10, 4-7 SCIAC) ahead.
With mere seconds left on the shot clock, the crowd held its breath and then erupted in cheers: Scarlett released a jump-shot that arched through the air, swished into the hoop, and sent the game into overtime.
Easily recognizable by his epic beard, Scarlett and the CMS team took on Occidental on Saturday night, Feb. 6th, at Occidental College. It was a close game, with never more than a seven-point difference between the two teams. Scarlett worked his magic and led the Stags into overtime with a last-minute three, and then fittingly ended his night and sealed the victory for CMS by hitting two clutch free-throws to end the night 69-66.
“It was a good game for me personally to get back on track and out of my shooting slump,” Scarlett said, “[and] I'm thankful for that opportunity.” The sophomore ended the game with a grand total of 19 points, 15 of which came from three-pointers.
It was a tight game, and the win wouldn’t have been possible without the entire Stag squad. Riley Hall CM ’17 was a huge defensive contributor, tasked with guarding and denying Occidental offensive threats Jay Miller and Andrew Johnson.
“I knew it was essential to stop Miller and Johnson if we wanted to win,” Hall said after the game. Hall praised his team for its versatility, helping defense, and strong rebounding presence in this victory. “A turning point for me in the game was when, after struggling to fight through a ball screen, Lane stepped up to help on defense and shut Miller down. It was a big confidence booster for me to know my team was there to back me up,” he said.
Scarlett and Hall both acknowledged captain Jack Early CM ’16 for his impactful performance on the court. “He is a very unselfish player, looks for other guys, looks for cuts, and keeps us together,” Scarlett said. Lane and Jason Harrington CM ’16 were also crucial in Saturday’s win: Lane dominated in the paint with six points and 10 rebounds. Harrington provided strong physical presence on the court and offensive game for the Stags, putting up 17 points against Occidental.
Hall also emphasized just how much of a team effort each and every win is. He stressed the importance of each player and said that the presence, encouragement, and energy from the bench were all crucial in bringing home a win.
After their victory on Saturday, the Stags faced University of La Verne for the second time this season on Wednesday, Feb. 10th. Before the game, Hall said “The plan [was] to just play harder and have a larger presence than we did last time. We’ve developed a lot as a team since we last played them, with new chemistry and vision, so I’m excited.” Indeed, the Stags finished the week strongly, beating La Verne 65-60 on La Verne’s home court.
CMS will host California Lutheran University (5-7, 9-10 SCIAC) on Saturday, Feb. 13th, and is looking for redemption in their rematch against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (4-8, 9-11 SCIAC) on Monday, Feb. 15th. With Scarlett’s shooting, Hall’s defense, and every guy in between, there’s no doubt the Stags’ best days are ahead.