ROSEVILLE — One of Martell Turner's three dunks saw the Roseville guard sky past the defense for a rim-shaking, one-handed throw down that ignited a 16-6 run in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night.
The Panthers' pressure defense suffocated the Rockets all game long, leading to transition bucket after transition bucket and plenty of other highlights separate from Turner's dunks.
And New Haven coach Tedaro France loved every second of it.
Roseville is almost four times the size of Class C New Haven in enrollment and features a senior class with loads of talented guards and big men.
The Panthers aren't on New Haven's schedule by accident either. The Rockets didn't just add Roseville to its schedule in desperation, to ensure a 20-game schedule.
They wanted to see a premier full-court pressure defense that can trap you from any angle on the floor, and they got just that during their 74-44 season-opening loss.
"We can practice against pressure all day long, but it's a game experience like this that'll be best for these guys," France said.
This is the next era of New Haven boys basketball.
Gone to DePaul is Romeo Weems, the talented forward who has traded in his 99-7 record and 2,151 career points with the Rockets for Big East Freshman of the Week honors.
This isn't the 2017 Class B state championship Rockets. This year's squad features four freshmen, a bunch of juniors stepping into more important roles and a handful of seniors ready to leave their mark on the program.
So it's going to take early season losses to Division 1 schools such as Roseville to prepare New Haven for a deep run in the Macomb Area Conference-White as well as the postseason.
"We've got a young group, so we've just got to continue to build on the great stuff and learn from the mistakes," France said. "As the season goes along, they're going to continue to get better."
New Haven's Brent Wiles drove to the hoop for a basket just mere seconds after the opening tip against the Panthers, but then things fell apart for the Rockets as Roseville went on an 11-0 run, grabbed a commanding lead and got a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer by Anthony Cukaj, who scored a game-high 26 points.
The Rockets rallied in the next quarter, though. They opened on a 7-0 run of their own, with Wiles knocking down a turnaround jumper in the paint to give his squad a 23-22 lead with 4:22 left before halftime.
Guard Tyree France did his best to navigate past Roseville's pressure defense, and New Haven continued to collect buckets that sucked the excitement out of the gym for the Panthers' fans.
Roseville made just two field goals in the period, which ended with Wiles burying a half-court shot at the buzzer to ensure New Haven a 29-26 halftime lead.
"It shows that we've got a good base to build from," Coach France said. "Now we've just got to continue to work hard, watch film and go back and learn. We need to come back the next day and get better."
Momentum turned in the third when Roseville elevated its energy on defense again and smothered New Haven's ballhandlers in the backcourt.
Turner, who scored 21 points, slammed home a dunk on a breakaway to give Roseville a 13-point lead that quickly turned into a 21-point advantage before the fourth started.
"We came out in the second half, and we let their pressure get to us," Coach France said. "I expect that with young guys coming in here. That's why this is a great first test for us to come in here and play against their great guards."
The pieces are in place for New Haven to have a great season.
Wiles dominated at forward at times, scoring 13 of his team-best 17 points in the first half. But foul trouble limited the play of forwards Brandon Lisco and JaQuan Kincaid, who both should add a presence in the paint.
The Rockets just need to shore up their guard play. Tyree France, Ja'me McQueen and Michael Williams Jr. stood out, but Coach France wants to see more out of that position group.
"Our guards are young, and they (Roseville) pressure the ball really, really good," he said. "We only have one guard right now, so we're trying to get some more guys that can build up their confidence to handle the ball. Once they build that confidence, I think they'll do a lot better with more ballhandlers."
No matter what Coach France throws at his players in practice the rest of the season, the Rockets should rest easy knowing that nothing will be as challenging as what they faced in the season opener at Roseville.
Now's their chance to build off an ugly loss and grow as a team.