By Jim Whymer
The New Haven basketball players, coaches and spectators were in no hurry to leave the Marysville High School gym Friday night.
The unbeaten Rockets posed for pictures and chatted with family and friends following their 46-39 victory over the host Vikings in the Class B district championship game.
And New Haven would love nothing better than to play at Marysville one more time this season. The Class B quarterfinals are scheduled for March 24 at Marysville.
"Our crowd is great. They are like our sixth man," New Haven Coach Tedaro France II said. "We've had a great following all season and tonight they really supported us. It's neat how the whole town comes out.
"I'm so happy and proud of the players. They have worked hard all season for this. Our goal this year was to come here and win a district. We've accomplished that."
The No. 2-ranked Rockets, who were knocked out of the Class C districts the past two seasons by Mount Clemens, improved to 23-0 on the season. They advance to the regionals Monday at Yale High School.
Marysville , the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division co-champion, finishes the season at 18-5.
"We wanted to win a league title this season, and also compete for the district championship," Marysville coach Ryan Biewer said. "We hadn't won a district games in three years and we made a great run at a district title.
"The players executed the game plan to perfection. We just had some turnovers and missed free throws at critical times. We haven't seen a team as athletic and with that size all season."
Senior Dmonta Harris led the Rockets' balanced scoring attack with 10 points. Senior Marquis Perkins and 6-foot-11 junior center Innocent Nwoko each finished with nine points, while senior Austin Sherrell added eight.
For Marysville, senior center Brady Beedon tossed in 14 points and senior guard Deshaun Kelley had nine.
The Vikings gave the Rockets fits early on with their 2-3 zone. They made nine free throws in the first quarter for a 15-7 lead. Sophomore Dylan Kiger drove the baseline for a layup to put the Vikings up 19-11 with four minutes left in the first half.
Marysville held a 26-21 halftime lead.
"We were lucky to get within five points at halftime," France said. "Marysville did a good job in their zone defense. They move well and close out on the shooters. They are a well-coached team.
"We did a good job of staying composed, especially at the start of the second half. There is no quit in this team. We've been behind in games throughout the season and keep fighting."
Beedon put in a shot off the glass to open the third quarter for a 28-21 Marysville lead. The Vikings wouldn't score again in the quarter as the Rockets put up 11 unanswered points.
France ordered the Rockets to hold the ball for the final three minutes of the third quarter and first four minutes of the fourth as the Vikings sat back in their zone.
New Haven pulled away by controlling the offensive glass and hitting 12 free throws down the stretch.