It figures that the Yellow Brick Road has potholes.
At least the one in Michigan that leads to East Lansing and the Breslin Center.
Although New Haven, the reigning Class B state champs in boys basketball, defeated St. Clair 76-56 in a regional semifinal game played on the Rockets’ home floor Monday night, it wasn’t an easy trek.
The gritty Saints, champions of the MAC Gold Division, did not go gentle into the good night, as Dylan Thomas might’ve said.
It was certainly a physical games at times. In basketball, potholes and bruises can be synonymous.
“It’s hard to match their athleticism. We can’t match it in practice. So we just have to go out and play our butts off honestly, and I think we did that tonight. I think we gave them as good as a game as we possibly could,” said Ben Davidson.
That certainly could be said about Davidson, who finished with 29 points tolead all scorers. He knocked down 20 of his team’s 25 first-half points.
New Haven led 40-25 at intermission.
“If we would’ve made a couple of more shots, it would have been closer. I am not disappointed in our effort. New Haven is the reigning Class B champions. Last year they beat us embarrassingly. They held us scoreless at halftime,” continued Davidson, a senior who will be playing basketball at Ferris State University.
In a district game last year, New Haven led 28-0 at halftime over his Saints. The final score was 53-17.
The Saints finished the 2017-2018 season 16-7.
“We are going to get the best from other teams. We prepare for every team we play. It does not matter if it’s a first place team or a last place team, we still prepare for them the same. It is an honor to play this game, so we never look past anyone,” said Tedaro France II, the New Haven coach.
“We know teams are going to play their best against us. We have to be ready for everyone. We have to work hard in practice every day and continue to push ourselves and take things one game at a time,” continued France.
The time for the lead to really begin growing was in the second half for the host Rockets Monday night. When Ashton Sherrell scored an inside bucket with six minutes to play in the third quarter, New Haven was up 47-25. It was 57-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Romeo Weems electrified the home crowd when he took the ball the length of the floor and ended that excursion with a rim rattling dunk to take the score to 61-34. He’d been fouled hard on New Haven’s previous possession.
“With St. Clair, it is kind of a personal game. Before I even got into high school, it was a rivalry between St. Clair and New Haven. We used to play in the same league (the MAC Gold) with them,” said Weems. “We just always play each other hard.”
New Haven (24-0) now competes in the MAC Blue Division. The victory over St. Clair was the team’s 50th consecutive win.
Weems finished the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Sherrell scored 16 and grabbed six rebounds. Ronald Jeffery III had 14 points. Tavares Oliver Jr. finished with 12 points. Jamir Farrior scored five, had six assists and six rebounds. Ascaun Johnson had six points.
Davidson was St. Clair’s top scorer. Teammate Scott Selleck drained a trio of three’s late to finish with nine points. Mario Mattson scored eight.
“We view this year’s state tournament the same way we did last year. This is a whole new season. We just go out there and try to execute so we can get back to Breslin and win another one. It was a great feeling walking off the floor in East Lansing last year. We know we put in a lot of work to get there,” said Sherrell.
“Our coach makes us work hard, so we are always hungry. We just try to execute what we’ve worked on in practice. Teams try to test us. We just stay composed and try to play our game.”
RIVER ROUGE 75, SOUTH LAKE 32
The Cavaliers fell in the semifinals of this Class B regional.