By Chuck Pleiness
MARYSVILLE >> New Haven’s boys basketball team had a chance to put Detroit Henry Ford away Tuesday night at Marysville.
The Rockets did not and in the end suffered their first loss of the season.
Behind 20 points from Western Michigan University-bound Josh Davis, Henry Ford handed New Haven a 61-55 defeat in a Class B state quarterfinal.
“I think we were believing that the game was already over, but you have to realize as a team the game isn’t over until the final buzzer goes,” said New Haven’s Dmonta Harris, who led the Rockets with 21 points. “That was our mistake. We were up and I believe we gave it our best shot. It wasn’t that complete game, but we gave it our best shot.”
New Haven, which became just the seventh team in Macomb County to go 20-0 during the regular season, led 37-30 after Harris knocked down a pair of technical free throws and then a layup with three minutes left in the third quarter.
However, the Trojans (20-5) put together a 10-0 run to close out the quarter. The final bucket came from Davis by way of a dunk as the final seconds ticked off to give his team a 40-37 lead heading to the fourth.
New Haven wasn’t out of it as Marquis Perkins opened the final eight minutes with a triple to tie things after Davis had picked up his fourth quarter just seven seconds in.
“The same thing happened last game,” Henry Ford coach Kenneth Flowers said of Davis getting into foul trouble. “He was down on himself. He knows one game and it could be over, but the team told him we weren’t going to lose. That’s been happening all tournament and the guys didn’t quit.”
The Trojans were solid at the free-throw line down the stretch, going 10-for-12 over the final six minutes to reach a state semifinal game, Friday at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University at 7:50 p.m.
“We shot free throws for a half hour (Monday),” said Flowers, whose squad will meet Cadillac on Friday after the Vikings beat Essexville Garber, 59-50, to advance. “I told them that’s how this game was going to be won down the stretch and that’s what happened.”
Davis knocked down four straight free throws when he checked back in midway through the fourth quarter to put the Trojans up 52-50.
“Getting in foul trouble and being out of the game, but then he came back and knocked down four free throws,” said New Haven coach Tedaro France II, who guided the school to a school record 25 wins. “Great player, but overall I thought we held him in check.”
Henry Ford, which will be playing in its first semifinal in school history, was 22-for-30 from the free-throw line, compared to 10-of-12 from New Haven (25-1).
“This is the worst feeling I’ve felt all year,” Harris said. “As much as we fought together, as much as we worked to get ready for this game for us to lose, and it’s not like we lost to a bad team, Henry Ford had what it takes to beat us. It’s hard to watch another team play at Michigan State, but it’s something we have to deal with.”
The Rockets are now 0-3 in state quarterfinal appearances, also losing in 1990 and 2012.
“Other guys made plays,” France said. “It’s a tough game. I could have gone either way.
“We had some bad turnovers here and there,” France continued. “We just didn’t take care of the ball in key situations and forced some shots.”
Austin Sherrell chipped in 12 points and Perkins finished with eight.
James Towns added 14 points for the Trojans and Jamal Edwards followed with 10.
“It was just one of those games and say, ‘If we made that play, if we made that play, it was ours,’” France said. “And it was. It came down to some small plays. We just didn’t take care of the ball at key points.”