By George Pohly
George.firstname.lastname@example.org; @GPohly on Twitter
Madison coach Matt Ferguson didn’t need a box score to break down New Haven’s one-sided victory over the Eagles.
Josh Harris had 15 points and 10 rebounds and two other Rockets had double figures in points and rebounds, but statistics didn’t tell the story of New Haven’s 72-45 triumph in both teams’ MAC Gold Division boys basketball opener on Thursday, Ferguson said.
“Bottom line is, it’s not about numbers and stats,” Ferguson said. “It’s about intensity. They wanted it more than we did today. Period. It’s all about coming out and wanting it, and they wanted it.”
“They punched us, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to.”
New Haven answered Madison’s best surge of the game, an 8-2 run to start the second half, with a 16-10 run that closed the quarter.
The taller Rockets scored their final three field goals of the third quarter as the 6-foot-6 Harris, junior guard Alante Stevens and junior forward Jerry Ben put back offensive rebounds.
That reestablished the Rockets’ dominance that showed first in the opening quarter as New Haven built leads of 9-3, 14-7 and, finally, 20-10.
“We needed to be ready mentally from the start,” Ferguson said. “They came out with some intensity and got up on us.
“It was like we were in a daze. We didn’t mentally match their intensity.”
Austin Sherrell, a 6-6 senior wing whose role includes bringing the ball upcourt, had 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals for New Haven. He also had one of the Rockets’ crowd-pleasing dunks in the second quarter.
Ben had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Dmonta Harris, a 6-4 senior, added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
New Haven is 6-0 overall.
“It feels great,” Josh Harris said of posting the division-opening victory. “It’s something we’ve worked toward every day.
“It was a real tough game. They came out and played hard, and I appreciated that. They got after it.”
Daniel Feagin scored 14 points and Michael Floyd nine for Madison, which fell to 3-2 overall.
“The MAC Gold is always tough,” Rockets coach Tedaro France said. “Each time you can win a game it’s great. And you’ve got to win your home games.
“We knew this team was scrappy, and that they could play. We’re as hungry as the teams that are going to play us.”
Feagin scored six points in Madison’s third-quarter surge.
“You can win games and lose games by how you start the second half,” France said. “We’ve got to limit teams’ runs.
“The more games we play, the better I think we’ll get at that.”
Innocent Nwoko, a 6-11 junior, had three points and Ben scored off a pass from Stevens as New Haven took a 44-29 lead after Madison had cut the Rockets’ 37-21 halftime lead to 39-29.
The Rockets continued to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Ben’s field goal gave New Haven a 60-40 lead with about six minutes to play, and Josh Harris’ dunk with 4:31 to go put the home team ahead by 22.
New Haven plays at St. Clair and Madison plays host to Lincoln in MAC Gold games Tuesday.