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Ford was unfazed by New Haven’s record and ranking – and its own struggles.
Alex Iafrate scored 21 points and Alek Ivanovic and Donnie Schuster added 13 apiece to lead the Falcons to a 73-71 boys basketball victory over host New Haven on Thursday night.
The Falcons ended the game on an 11-7 run after New Haven, which trailed for most of the evening, took a 64-62 lead on a 3-pointer by Eric Williams Jr., who scored 32 points, with five minutes to play.
“We were just hype and coach told us to bring all of our energy in here,” Iafrate said as Falcons fans celebrated the MAC crossover victory. “We did what we had to do. We made our shots. We played good defense.
“We just did what we were supposed to do. Coach told us what they were going to run on defense and how to stop it, and that’s what we did.”
Ford is 5-6 in the MAC White Division. The Falcons took an 8-8 record into the game.
“We were kind of slap-happy,” Iafrate said. “We were just going to leave it all out there. We came ready to play. We were loose and focused.
“Even though we’re struggling, this gives us focus to win out and potentially win districts.”
Iafrate said it was the most satisfying victory he has been part of as a Falcon.
“Not even close,” he said.
Freshman Romeo Weems had 22 points for New Haven, which has clinched its second consecutive MAC Gold Division championship.
The Rockets were ranked No. 3 in the state in Class B by The Associated Press this week. They are 11-0 in the Gold and 17-2 overall.
“I take my hat off to Ford,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said. “They played well. They knocked down big shots. They deserved to win.
“Our defense is supposed to win games for us. Tonight it lost the game for us. We had too many breakdowns. That’s not us.”
France met with his players for several minutes.
“We know that we can get better,” he said.
He told the Rockets, “Thank Ford for coming in here and smacking you in the mouth and waking you up.”
And, France added, “Sometimes, right before the playoffs start, like right now, is a good time to get humbled.”
Ford made eight 3-point field goals and hit 13 of 19 free throws in the game.
Schuster scored six consecutive Falcons points after New Haven took a 61-60 lead on a 3-pointer by Williams.
Schuster also assisted on a basket as he handled the ball for most of the closing minutes of the game.
“Donnie Schuster became the player I know he can be,” Falcons coach Jeff Olson said. “He took the game over. He made big bucket after big bucket. He made free throws.”
Ford was coming off a 55-46 victory over Grosse Pointe North on Tuesday.
“Effort, energy and intensity – we came to play tonight,” Olson said.
“This is who we can be. This is who we could have been all year long. We’re peaking at the right time. We had a great shoot-around this morning. We got here, and I could tell they were dialed in pregame, and they executed.
“It’s good to see my guys finally live up to their potential. It’s a great time to get a win like this.”
Ford led 38-30 at halftime and pushed its lead to nine points multiple times in the third quarter.