The Times Herald
NEW HAVEN - Maybe the Rockets really do know how to fly.
The New Haven boys basketball team thrilled onlookers Friday with an array of highlight-reel plays. The Rockets displayed impressive defensive ability while locking down the Detroit Renaissance offense. But the Rockets were also effective on offense, especially in the open court while playing to the crowd and giving everyone in attendance what they wanted -- high flying dunks.
Highly-ranked recruit Romeo Weems and forward Ashton Sherrell brought the crowd to its feet several times with dunks, and after thrilling everyone in attendance, New Haven cruised to a 78-48 non-league victory over Detroit Renaissance.
Weems led New Haven (15-1) with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals. Sherrell added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Eric Williams had 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks and Tavares Oliver had 12 points.
"It was a great test for us," New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. "We wanted to play a good team that was fast and quick and long to see where we are at. Our kids stepped up. We know it all starts on the defensive end. We set the tempo there and created points off our defense tonight."
Both teams got off to a slow start and late in the quarter, the game was still tied at 9-9, before Weems added a three-point play to help New Haven take a 14-10 lead into the second quarter.
As the second quarter began, New Haven turned up its defensive intensity. The Rockets began to apply greater ball pressure and force Renaissance into mistakes. That opened up the Rockets offense and led to several easy fast-break points, including a follow-up dunk from Weems that thrust the momentum the Rockets way.
"After the dunk, everyone in the gym lit up and my team got a shock of energy," Weems said. "Everyone started playing tough with more energy and everyone had fun. The crowd was like a sixth man. They were rowdy and loud."
By the end of the first half, New Haven's small lead had morphed into a double-figure advantage which would ultimately result in a 35-24 lead at the break. As the third quarter began, New Haven continued to extend its defense and force turnovers.
That led out to several leak-outs, including a dunk from Sherrell that electrified the crowd late in the third quarter. Just over a minute later, it was Weems' turn as he brought fans to their feet once more with a two-handed slam that gave New Haven a 51-29 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. By the time the quarter ended, the game was already at hand, with New Haven clinging to a 61-32 lead.
"We play as a team," Williams said. "That's what helps us win each game. Dunking is a big thing around here because maybe they aren't used to so much height around here. Our dunks were the breaking point for (Renaissance) tonight."
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Hayes11.