St. CLAIR SHORES — There’s no rest or relaxation for opponents of New Haven’s “R&R” attack.
Trying to keep up with the Rockets’ pair of four-year starters, Romeo Weems and Ron Jeffery, is in fact, a painstakingly tiresome endeavor and can be quite detrimental to an opposing team’s health.
Just ask St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.
On Thursday, Weems, the No. 1 player in the state, charted a massive triple-double, while Jeffery added 25 points and personally put the game to bed in the fourth quarter, as New Haven marched to a 79-55 victory on the road against Lake Shore in a Macomb Area Conference crossover.
Weems, signed with DePaul and the clear frontrunner for Mr. Basketball, lit the scoreboard up for 34 points while snagging 19 rebounds and blocking 10 shots.
The contest was a rematch of last winter’s MAC Championship Game won by the Breslin Center-bound Rockets and proved a successful bounce-back for New Haven after an upset loss to Roseville earlier in the week. New Haven (2-1) is in the MAC White this season after raising MAC Blue banners the past two years. Lake Shore (2-1) remains in the MAC Blue and won’t get another shot at Weems and company until the league tournament.
The closing 25 seconds of the third quarter was the turning point in Thursday’s affair. The Rockets scored seven straight to end the frame and grabbed their first double-digit lead of the night, 55-45, heading into the fourth quarter. The final five points of the flurry came in the final five ticks of the clock, with Weems burying a long 3-pointer from the left elbow and Jeffery stealing the Lake Shore inbounds pass and putting in a lay-up to beat the buzzer.
Jeffery stayed hot to open the fourth, reeling off nine points in a row. His tear-drop shot going baseline was quickly followed by a transition bucket off a feed from Weems and New Haven sped in front 69-48 with 3:50 left.
“We took the momentum late, we kept applying pressure and we didn’t let up the rest of the way,” Jeffery said.
Weems pointed to his team’s defensive prowess and his and Jeffery’s responsibility as team captains.
“We had to turn up the intensity on defense, we did that and it sparked our transition game,” he said. “Ron and I set the standard. We hold ourselves accountable for how we compete because we’re the vets. I was in the huddle going into the fourth quarter, telling everybody we weren’t dropping this one, we needed to find another gear. We found it and we finished strong.”
As imposing as a tandem as there is in the MAC, Weems and Jeffery have led New Haven to back-to-back Class B final fours and a 2017 state crown. They’ve won league championships the last three seasons.
Lake Shore star Caleb Bates fought foul trouble the whole night Thursday. The prolific-scoring, 6-foot-7 forward was held to 12 points and fouled out at the 5:46 mark of the fourth quarter.
New Haven was on top 38-30 at halftime, but Bates brought his club storming back out of the locker room. Bates’ three-point play at the 3:55 mark of the third quarter knotted things at 42-42. The Shorians could never jump ahead though and New Haven answered with two consecutive hoops by senior guard Jamir Farrior.
"It's frustrating…. We played 23-24 great minutes — we have to play better down the stretch though," Lake Shore coach Derrick Walton Sr. said. "I don't think the final score was indicative of how competitive the game was."