New Haven’s boys basketball resurgence didn’t just happen overnight.
It began when Tedaro France II was given the job prior to the 2008-09 season and he started his tenure off with getting back to the basics.
“The program was good then we went through some gray times,” France said. “The kids just didn’t know how to win. They didn’t know how to work hard. I came here and it was almost like rebuilding.
“Kids didn’t understand the stuff we were doing or it was too hard,” France continued. “They were used to coming in, having a ball rolled out and just playing. They weren’t used to the structure, the hard work and all the prep work in the film room. They had no idea what that was. It was something new to them.”
New Haven went 6-15 in his first season.
“We came to practice, worked on jump stopping, working on left hand and they were like, ‘Coach what’s this,’ but that’s a big part of the game,” France recalled. “Games are won by doing the small things well.”
France started his first season with 15 kids. By the end of the season there were seven.
“I had to cut kids because they didn’t get what we were trying to do, four of them were starters,” France said. “It’s tough for kids to adjust to change. They didn’t want to do it so we started young.”
The Rockets went 10-12 his second season.
In season three, France had guided New Haven to a district championship, the Rockets’ first since the 2006-07 season.
“They started buying into it and we started having success,” France said. “So maybe they finally figured out coach wasn’t nuts. Sometimes it’s hard to get that across to kids, but once they start seeing results they start getting it.
“Sometimes the hardest thing is to teach kids how to win that have never won,” France continued. “We had to show them what it takes to win.”
France guided New Haven to a 20-0 regular season this year, becoming just the seventh Macomb County team to do so.
The last to do it was Romeo in 2002-03, but the Bulldogs lost to Eisenhower in their first district game to finish 20-1. Ford and Memphis were the first to do it in 1991-92.
Lake Shore went 20-0 in 1992-93 and 1993-94 and the Shorians became the county’s only boys basketball state champion in 1994.
New Haven was undefeated in 1996-97 and France was a player on that team.
“I tell them a lot that these memories will last with you forever,” France said. “I want them to enjoy it and if we lose let’s do it the right way. I want everyone to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and say that they gave it their all.”
Now France has gotten the Rockets’ program to a state quarterfinal game for a third time in school history and for the second time under his tenure.
New Haven lost in the previous two appearances – 2012 (61-40 to Shelby) and 1990 (56-47 to Bishop Gallagher.
“I don’t want anyone looking back and thinking about something they could have done different,” France said. “Let’s give it 100 percent all the way.”
The Rockets (25-0) will face Detroit Henry Ford, which topped Detroit Consortium 70-52 in a regional final at Marysville at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a trip to East Lansing on the line. The Trojans are 18-5.
New Haven remains the only team without a loss in the Class B state tournament.
A win Tuesday gets the Rockets to a state semifinal Friday at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University at 7:30 p.m.
“We have a hardworking group of kids that know how to win and what it takes to win,” France said. “They’ve had success. They know what it takes to be successful.”