George.firstname.lastname@example.org; @GPohly on Twitter
Jerry Ben figures he practices too hard in the New Haven gymnasium to put up with losing a basketball game there.
“I bleed on this court,” the junior forward said. “This is where I sweat. This is our house.”
So Ben was anything but happy when the Rockets trailed Chandler Park by 18 points midway through the third quarter Tuesday night.
“I took it personally,” Ben said. “I thought to myself, this can’t be happening.”
And he did something about it.
Ben scored the Rockets’ final seven points of the game to finish with 14 points, and senior Dmonta Harris tied for game high honors with 23 points as New Haven edged Chandler Park 60-57 in a non-league boys game.
The Eagles’ Jalen Martin also scored 23 points, including five in the fourth quarter.
But Chandler Park, which led 40-22 in the third quarter, failed to score in the first 3:54 of the fourth quarter.
And the Eagles missed the front end of a two-shot free-throw opportunity when they trailed 59-57 with four seconds to play, compelling the team from Harper Woods to intentionally miss the second free throw, which led to a held ball and possession for New Haven.
The 6-foot-9 Ben then made one of two free throws with .4 of a second left for the final margin as the Rockets improved to 2-0.
Six players scored for Chandler Park, which had a shorter than usual bench, first-year coach Gregory Martin said.
“We had a couple of guys that didn’t make the trip for disciplinary reasons, so we were really hampered with our depth today,” Martin said.
“But I can’t take anything away from New Haven. They played hard. At the end of the day, they wanted it more than us.
“They fought hard to get all the 50-50 balls. We came up a little short.”
New Haven fought foul trouble and cold shooting as Chandler Park built its lead.
Harris started the comeback in the third quarter with a three-point play, and then consecutive dunks by Austin Sherrell and Harris cut Chandler Park’s lead to 40-32 with 2:51 left in the third.
John Galloway made a field goal and Harris sank a 3-pointer as the Rockets went into the fourth quarter trailing 43-35.
The final quarter opened with Harris still hot; he scored the Rockets’ first six points.
And the comeback continued as Galloway’s jumper in the lane tied the score at 51-all, and Josh Harris’ layup off a Rockets steal in the backcourt put New Haven ahead 53-51.
Dolan Bonkowski, a ball-handling guard and a standout on New Haven’s MAC Silver Division-winning soccer team in the fall, was one of the Rockets who fought through foul trouble, and he contributed in the fourth quarter.
“Now we know,” the senior said, “maybe seven games into the season, maybe in a big league game, that we can come back.”
Ben made two free throws to give the Rockets a 55-53 lead with 2:07 to play, and his two free throws with 29.6 seconds to play broke a 57-all tie.
“I made sure I made them,” he said.
Dmonta Harris had 11 rebounds and Ben 10. Ben also had three blocked shots.