New Haven nearly had one get away from it on Wednesday night.
The host Rockets held a 44-28 lead over Warren-Mott after three quarters, before watching the Marauders rally to within three points with four seconds left. However, two free throws by Brent Wiles with a second to go capped a 59-54 MAC White Division-opening win for New Haven.
“We have to learn how to finish and the only way to learn that is to play in these games,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. “For the most part, we played great at times, and not so great at other times. We fought and stayed strong and got the league win.”
For three quarters, New Haven was in control, racing to 16-11 lead after one quarter, extending it to 29-17 at halftime, and 44-28 after three periods. But, Warren Mott caught fire and made the Rockets sweat a little in the fourth quarter.
“We don’t have quit in us,” Mott coach Jeff Olind said. “Our problem all year has been getting out of the gate. We get down early and come storming back.
“I want to know in those first three quarters if our shooting percentage or number of turnovers was higher,” Olind added. “I will watch the film and find out.”
In the fourth quarter, the Marauders’ Dorian Chaney scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the period. His steal and layup with 1:38 left cut the Rocket lead to 53-48, before his free throw with four second to play cut the deficit to 57-54.
“He’s a senior,” Olind said. “He’s the smallest kid in the gym, but the toughest. He goes so hard on both ends of the floor and works his butt of every day in practice. It’s great to see.”
Wiles and Tyree France are two of the more experienced Rockets and they led that way in this one, with Wiles finishing with 22 points, 17 rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists, while France finished with 10 points, four boards and four assists. Trevon Jeffery also had 10 points for New Haven.
“Wiles and France have been our guys with the most experience,” France said. “They’re great players and leaders. They have been patient with the young guys. Brent Wiles is having a great year for us and got better in the off-season.”
Another area where Mott struggled at was from the free-throw line, making good on 11-of-28 attempts in the game.
“We shoot them every day and will shoot a lot more of them now,” Olind said. “The disappointing thing was that there were seniors who were missing them at the end. They’ve been here before and should have that ice water in their veins.”
Besides Chaney’s 19 points, the Marauders also received 10 points from Dennis Mayfield, and seven points from Alex Estephan. The loss dropped Mott’s record to 3-3 overall, 0-1 league.
New Haven improved to 5-2 overall, 1-0 league. France said he knew his young team would have its work cut out for themselves against the Marauders.
“It’s a league game against a very well-coached team at Mott,” France said. “They work hard, and we know every game against Mott is going to be tough. For us and our young team, we can practice and watch film, but the more games we play, the more experience they get, we have to go through this type of game to get better.”