CORUNNA — The New Haven boys basketball team is only two victories shy of accomplishing all of its goals for the second consecutive year.
The Rockets (26-0) punched their ticket to the Breslin Center with a 78-72 Class B state quarterfinal victory over Bridgeport at Corunna High School on Tuesday night.
New Haven won its 52nd consecutive game behind its defense, a staple that has been part of the team’s DNA throughout its success.
"We got four guys that scored in double figures this year," New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. "It's not just the (Romeo) Weems show. He has the ability to make everyone else better. But when a guy isn't having a great game, we try to pick each other up.
"We rallied tonight against a scrappy team. They're tough. We turned it over more than we did all year. It wasn't our best game. But we stayed poised and made plays when we needed to, to pull out the victory."
New Haven advances to face Grand Rapids Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Benton Harbor and River Rogue play in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
Ronald Jeffrey III paced New Haven with a team-high 29 points, including 16 points in the first half. Romeo Weems added 13 points despite playing in foul trouble much of the game. Tavaras Oliver Jr. scored 13 points and Ascaun Johnson chipped in 11 for New Haven.
Charles Garrett scored 36 points to pace Bridgeport (24-2).
"I had to play through the foul trouble," Weems said. "I feel like I'm a target from refs and teams. I just have to keep playing and keep my head. I have to be the leader no matter what happens and keep everything under control."
New Haven led 17-11 after the first quarter and 36-26 at the end of the first half. The score began to tighten in the third quarter, as Weems picked up his fourth foul with the Rockets leading 40-35 with 5:17 left in the period.
But even with its best player on the bench, New Haven stayed in control and expanded the lead to 55-43 entering the fourth quarter.
"Coach always tells us in practice to play through everything," Oliver said. "Our offense wasn't that great so we relied on our defense.
"Especially when Romeo had to sub out. We picked it up and finished out the quarter."
In the fourth quarter, the Rockets stayed ahead behind several big plays, including a steal and layup from Weems that gave the Rockets a 71-64 lead with just over a minute to play.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Hayes11.