By Chuck Pleiness
YALE >> New Haven’s perfect regular season has translated well into the boys basketball state tournament.
Behind 22 points from Dmonta Harris, the Rockets rolled over host Yale, 61-39, to reach Wednesday’s Class B regional final, improving to 24-0 on the season.
“I just told me team we’ve played two true road games in the state tournament, Marysville at home (Friday) and Yale at home (Monday),” New Haven Tedaro France II said. “They have great crowds.
“(Yale’s) a good team,” France continued. “We watched a lot of film on them and we knew they were going to be tough. We stressed great team defense and we really wanted to keep on number 10 and number 23.”
The Rockets held Cody Kegley and Josh McClelland to a combined 20 points.
“Our guards stepped up and played great team defense,” France said. “That was the key, holding them in check. Not giving up wide open shots and keeping (Kegley) out of the lane. We just knew coming in we had to focus on team defense and we really did that tonight.”
The Rockets held the Bulldogs (21-3) to just 12 points in the first half, while they put up 30.
“We can’t go nine minutes in the game without scoring,” said Yale coach Garnett Kohler, whose squad is 32-5 over the last two seasons. “I thought that was the difference in the game.”
New Haven also blocked nine shots.
“When we saw them back in December they shot the ball well,” said France, who played on the 1997 Rockets team that lost in a regional final. “We knew what we had to do. We’ve got a lot of depth where we can rotate guards to keep them fresh. I think that helped wear them down in the second half.
“They have a great team and had a great year,” France continued. “It’s tough to come here and win with such a great crowd.”
New Haven will face Detroit Osborn for the regional title. The Knights topped Notre Dame Prep, 62-55.
The Rockets, who became just the seventh team from Macomb County to finish the regular season 20-0, last appeared in a regional final in 2012, winning the regional at Vassar. The Rockets eventually fell to Shelby in the quarters.
Harris also grabbed 13 rebounds, while Austin Sherrell (five rebounds, five assists, six steals) followed with 13 points and Marquis Perkins (10 assists) netted 10. Jerry Ben added eight points to go with five blocks.
New Haven, which is the only undefeated team left in the Class B tournament, also won a regional title in 1990.
Perkins was red hot in the first quarter, knocking down a pair of triples and two more buckets to finish with 10 of the Rockets’ 14 points in the opening eight minutes.
The second quarter saw some tenacious New Haven defense, holding the Bulldogs to just two field goals, both of which came with under three minutes before halftime.
“I thought going in we could pack it in and force them to knock down shots,” Kohler said. “We watched a lot of film and they didn’t do it in the films. Give them credit and they hit 3 after 3 and if they’re going to do that it’s a tough matchup for us.”
McClelland and Austen Gentner scored 12 points apiece for the Bulldogs, whose other two losses this season were against Imlay City.