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New Haven coach Tedaro France II expects a late-night text message whenever the Rockets have a high-stakes game scheduled for the next day.
When he checked his phone Thursday night, the sender was Dmonta Harris with a special request.
“Each time before we have a big game he’ll text me and say, ‘Coach, let’s get in the gym before school,’” France said after Harris scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds Friday in the undefeated Rockets’ 51-43 victory against Mount Clemens in a battle of Macomb Area Conference division champions.
Harris came in early to work on his ball-handling skills because he knew he’d need to be at his best against the scrappy Bathers.
“I knew this was going to be a game where I’d have to show my dribbling ability,” he said. “I knew this was a good defensive team, so I was trying to work on my left hand to be more versatile.”
France isn’t surprised by Harris’ willingness to put in the extra work.
“Dmonta is having a great year,” France said. “I may be biased, but to me, he’s the best player in the county because he does so much. He can rebound, shoot the 3-point shot, defend — he’s the complete package for a player.
“He could score a lot more points but he’s so unselfish. I sometimes have to tell him, ‘You’ve got to score.’ But he gets the whole team involved. Then when he takes off, he really takes off. He’s a great kid and a great teammate. He made some big shots at key times. We have some plays designed for him and he came through and knocked them down. He’s a big-time player. He’s been doing it all year.”
When New Haven went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter Friday, Harris scored eight of the points, including a pair of 3-point baskets.
Harris is content to let his teammates share the wealth. However, he’s ready to step up when it’s crunch time.
“I don’t want anybody to feel like he’s not eating, so to speak,” Harris said. “I want to spread things around. I know at the end of the day, I can turn it on when I feel like it.”
More often than not, that’s exactly what he does.