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YALE >> Austin Sherrell couldn’t bear the thought of New Haven’s basketball season ending.
So he did something about it.
Sherrell’s 3-point field goal with 31.3 seconds left gave the Rockets hope in regulation time, and New Haven outscored Detroit Osborn 7-5 in overtime on the way to a 68-66 victory over the Knights in a boys Class B regional championship game at Yale High School on Wednesday night.
“I wasn’t ready to leave,” Sherrell, a 6-foot-6 senior, said. “We weren’t ready to go home. Osborn is a very scrappy team, very quick, but I feel we wanted it more.”
Undefeated New Haven trailed by seven points with less than a minute to play, but Sherrell hit his 3-pointer from the right wing to cut Osborn’s lead to 60-56 with 31 seconds to play.
Dmonta Harris got New Haven two points closer with a basket with 17.3 seconds left, and then the teams traded turnovers.
Senior guard Joseph Thomas, who led the Knights with 14 points, split a pair of free throws with 13.4 seconds left.
That opened the door for New Haven, and Harris pulled the Rockets through it with a triple that tied the score at 61-all with three seconds to play.
“It’s a miracle,” New Haven senior sixth man Josh Harris said after the Rockets improved to 25-0. “I knew we had a chance. We just had to figure it out.
“I’m so proud of my team.”
Dmonta Harris finished with 23 points and Sherrell had 15 points and five rebounds.
Regional championship games have tripped up New Haven more times than Rockets fans care to remember.
Since 1959, New Haven had lost 10 of 12 regional finals.
It looked like Osborn, a middling Detroit Public School team that entered the regional final with 14 wins, would be the latest to sideline the Rockets at the step before the state quarterfinals.
But looks were deceiving.
“We’ve been working for so long,” Sherrell said. “We’re ready for these moments. Since summer, we’ve been doing this.
“Just get after it, that’s what we did. I was confident in my shot. I had to put some points on the board for my team.”
New Haven, which was winning league championships before anyone outside the South had heard of Elvis Presley, didn’t win a regional title until 1990.
Now the Rockets have three of them, including one achieved in 2012.
“This means so much to our town,” Rockets coach Tedaro France II said. “We fell here so many times.”
Since winning a district championship last week, the Rockets, France said, have gotten letters from outside of Michigan, from alumni, former players and former teachers who follow the team online.
“People I’ve never met have written letters,” France said. “It’s unreal how much they support these kids.
“The fan support, the school support, the community support is a blessing. It’s amazing.”
New Haven, which lost its previous two state quarterfinal appearances, which were in Class C, plays Detroit Henry Ford at Marysville next Tuesday.
“People see our record, 25-0 now, but they don’t know what we’ve been through, how hard we’ve worked to get here,” France said. “These kids take everything in stride.”