Rockets avenge 2007 regional loss to Nouvel
By George Pohly
Macomb Daily Sports Editor
REESE -- Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central had four big men to use against New Haven.
The Panthers, however, did not have Robert Farr.
Farr, New Haven's 6-foot-5 senior, scored 28 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 65-54 victory over Nouvel in a Class C boys basketball regional semifinal game at Reese High School on Monday night.
"Robert is the best post around," New Haven guard Tyler Smith said after the Rockets lifted their record to 16-8 with their fourth tournament victory of the year.
"He stepped up his game," Smith said. "We just kept feeding him the ball."
Matched against the Panthers' wiry big men, including 6-7 junior Tony Purifoy, who scored 17 points, Farr had to find a balance between being aggressive and laying back.
"I didn't want to get into foul trouble," Farr said. "I didn't want to put a body on them too much. But I had to go after them."
"They were skinny. I knew I could move them out of the way. They were good, don't get me wrong. They were the best challenge we had all year. But we were stronger."
Sophomore Jamael Bell scored 12 points, sophomore Rayshawn Griffin had nine and Smith, a senior, made 10 assists as New Haven became one of three Macomb County teams to win a regional semifinal game.
Trevor Bonhoff, a 6-6 junior, had 10 points for Nouvel, while 6-6 Shaughn Handley had nine and 6-4 Jack Snyder added eight.
"We played real well on defense tonight," Smith said. "That's what carried us to the victory.
"We moved our feet and we clamped down on them on defense."
New Haven, which lost to Nouvel in a 2007 regional game, sputtered early in the fourth quarter as the Panthers cut a 15-point deficit to six, closing to 52-46 on a basket by guard Joshua Buchalski with 5:13 to play.
But Farr split a pair of foul shots for a 53-46 lead with 4:12 to go, and then Smith assisted on a hoop by Bell and Farr made two long, baseball-style passes, first to Bell and then to Griffin, for layups that gave the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division Rockets a 59-52 lead with 90 seconds to play.
"I'm so proud of our guys," Tedaro France, the Rockets' coach, said. "We came out strong and we stayed strong. We played great defense.
"Our league is a tough league. All the tough games we had got us ready for this.
"We kind of challenged the guys, especially Robert, about (Nouvel's) big men. I think that got our guys fired up."
New Haven rode Farr's 14-point second quarter from a 17-13 deficit to a 34-27 halftime lead.
Farr added five rebounds in the quarter.
New Haven got ahead by nine in the third quarter, and then Nouvel rallied to within three.
But two Farr free throws, two buckets by 10th-grader Roemello Moore and Smith's buzzer-beating triple from the corner pushed New Haven's lead to 52-37 at the end of the third.
Nouvel finished 12-11.
New Haven plays for the second regional championship in school history when the Rockets take on Saginaw Buena Vista at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the title game at Reese.
Senior guard George Goodman scored 27 points to lead Buena Vista (18-5) to a 94-51 victory over Harbor Beach in the first semifinal game.
New Haven won the Brown City district tournament, while Buena Vista won the New Lothrop district.
The Rockets won their only regional championship in 1990.
Nouvel 17 10 10 17 -- 54
New Haven 13 21 18 13 -- 65
Nouvel (12-11): Jack Snyder 8, Shaughn Handley 9, Joshua Buchalski 7, Trevor Bohnhoff 10, Ty Jacobs 3, Tony Purifoy 17. Totals: 25 (2) 2-12 -- 54.
New Haven (15-8): Tyler Smith 2, Rayshawn Griffin 9, Jamael Bell 12, Roemello Moore 5, Robert Farr 28, Paul Evans 4. Totals: 26 (1) 12-18 -- 65.