Winning basketball games becomes more difficult as the state tournament progresses.
Just ask New Haven boys coach Tedaro France II and his team, who advanced Wednesday night to the Class B state quarterfinals, escaping from Yale High School with a 68-66 win in overtime over Detroit Osborn.
“That game is always tough,” France said. “It’s never easy. We wouldn’t want it any other way. It takes a lot of hard work. Only so many teams are blessed enough to make it that far and to play in that game.”
The other two Macomb County boys teams that were left in the state tournament – Dakota (Class A) and De La Salle (Class A) – both had their seasons end Wednesday as both fell to undefeated teams. The Cougars were knocked out by Clarkston, 63-58, while the Pilots were sidelined by Detroit Western, 51-35.
“To be able to win it, it’s just special for our kids and our home town,” France said.
As a New Haven player, France lost in each of his regional final appearances in his last two seasons at the school.
He’s led New Haven to two regional titles in three regional final appearances.
In all, the Rockets have won just three regional titles in 13 tries.
They also won titles in 2012 and 1990. Both of those were in Class C.
“I don’t know why we’ve had such difficulty winning that game, but I’m just happy we’ve been able to win in two out of the last three years,” France said. “I hope we can continue to have this success and continue to get past this game.”
New Haven also needed overtime to reach the quarterfinals in 2012, topping Saginaw Nouvel.
It wasn’t easy for the Rockets, who trailed a majority of the game Wednesday against the Knights and found themselves in a seven-point hole with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter.
But a triple from Dmonta Harris with three seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime. From that point, New Haven outscored Osborn 7-5 at the free-throw line to keep its unblemished record intact heading to the state quarterfinals.
Austin Sherrell started the comeback with a triple with 31.3 seconds to play and then Harris got an offensive rebound and a converted a layup to get New Haven to within two, 60-58.
After Osborn made 1-of-2 free throws, Marquis Perkins got the ball into Harris’ hands and he sent the game into OT.
Comebacks have been the norm for the Rockets this season.
In their second game against Chandler Park they trailed by 19 with three minutes left in the third quarter and came back to win, 60-57.
“That game showed we had a team with heart and set the tempo for the rest of the year,” France said. “We stayed composed and never got down. We didn’t force anything. We continued to stick with our game plan.”
New Haven (25-0) will face Detroit Henry Ford, which topped Detroit Consortium 70-52, at Marysville at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a trip to East Lansing on the line. The Trojans are 18-5.
The Rockets, who remain the only team without a loss in the Class B state tournament, are 0-2 in the state quarterfinals.
“We’re looking to take another step with this program,” France said. “It’s going to take a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work and it’s going to require us to play our best game in order to move to the next step.”
That would be a week from Friday at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University at 7:50 p.m.
“If we’re down late we know have a chance to win,” France said. “We still haven’t played that complete game that I know we can play. People that have scouted us and come to our games haven’t seen the true us. I hope it happens this year. I’m so excited to see us put together a full four quarters. That’ll be fun for me as a coach to watch.”
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