By Chuck Klonke, For The Voice
who says balanced scoring in a must for winning basketball games? Not New Haven.
The Rockets got a combined 42 points from seniors Tyler Smith and Robert Farr to stun defending Macomb Area Conference Red Division champion L’Anse Creuse North 47-44 Tuesday in a MAC crossover game.
“It’s like that every game,” said New Haven coach Tedaro France. “Tyler is averaging 20.5 and Robert is averaging 19.7. The offense is coming through them, but our role players are also doing a good job.
“Those two are great leaders. They make the other kids stay out there after practice to work on things. I’ve had them both for three years and to see them grow into the way they are now makes me so proud.”
Even though Smith, who had 26 points against North, and Farr who had 16 points and eight rebounds, did most of the scoring they made it clear that the Rockets aren’t a two-man team. The three sophomores in the starting lineup also make significant contributions.
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to be leaders, but I also feel the young guys have stepped up a lot this year,” Smith said. “They came up from the JV and took a big role. They worked hard in the summer to get ready for the varsity and they’re proving it now.
“It’s not just us. They’re getting us the ball and setting screens. They’re playing their roles really well.”
“If we didn’t have them we wouldn’t have anything,” he said. “We need them just as much as Tyler needs me and I need him. We’re all a team.”
Finishing 10-12 a year ago got to Smith and Farr. They were determined not to let it happen again if they could do anything about it.
“Those tears after we lost last year hurt real bad,” Smith said. “We decided it’s not going to happen again. We’re going to go back to the old New Haven and start winning.”
The victory against the Crusaders was a major step in that direction and improved New Haven’s record to 4-1.
“It’s a real big win for our kids,” France said. “They’ve worked so hard. We know North is a good team and we prepared well for this game. It’s tough to win here. Our kids kept fighting and fighting and fighting. I always stress that if we work hard we’ll see big rewards -- and this is a big reward.”
The game was close throughout.
North had a five-point lead late in the first quarter, but Smith erased that with an 8-0 run in which he scored all the points. The Crusaders regained the lead midway through the second quarter and held a 19-17 halftime advantage.
At halftime, France reminded his team of its goal for the game.
“Our goal was to limit them to one attempted shot per possession,” France said. “In the first half we gave them eight second-chance points. In the second half, we did a better job of limiting them to one shot on every possession. That was the key.”
Farr said that the Rockets were ready for North.
“We practiced on how they set their screens,” he said. “When (Craig) Smelley or anyone else came off a screen we made sure we had a hand in their face. And we made sure we boxed out when they were shooting.”
The second half saw the lead change hands nine times. There were also seven ties.
A steal by Smelley set up a basket by Tyler Conklin that gave the Crusaders a 44-43 lead with just over two minutes remaining. On New Haven’s next possession, Smith was fouled and he sank both free throws to put the Rockets back in front. He added two more free throws with 45 seconds to go when he came up with a loose ball after a North turnover to give New Haven its final margin of victory.
The Crusaders had three 3-point shots in the closing seconds, but each of them hit the rim and bounced away. Farr finally came down with the rebound after the final attempt and held it as time expired.
Khial Watson and Ryan Lombardo led North with nine points apiece. Drew Isabell pulled down eight rebounds.
“It feels good to put New Haven on the map,” Smith said. “We’re a smaller school but we have athletes who work just as hard as anybody. Tonight we came away with the victory, but coach said we can only enjoy it until 12 o’clock tonight. Then we have to think about coming back and working even harder in practice tomorrow.”
New Haven 13 4 18 12 -- 47
L’Anse Creuse North 12 7 14 11 -- 44
NEW HAVEN (4-1): Tyler Smith 26, Tedaro France III 1, Robert Farr 16, Jamael Bell 1, Roemello Moore 3. Totals: 17 (4) 9-16--47.
L’ANSE CREUSE NORTH (2-2): Khial Watson 9, Calvin Curry 4, Ryan Lombardo 9, Craig Smelley 6, Drew Isabell 5, Marvin Masa 2, Derick Motley 3, Tyler Conklin 6. Totals: 19 (2) 4-7--44.
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