By Andrew Benoit, Staff Writer
The fact that L’Anse Creuse North had already wrapped up a MAC Red title and the fact that New Haven had narrowly missed out on a MAC Gold title of their own didn’t seem to matter. Both teams sported identical 16-3 records but that didn’t seem to matter either.
All that mattered was the Rockets wanted to send a message loud and clear that they could hang with the heavy hitters in the MAC conference and Friday night’s 72-60 home victory over the Crusaders sent that message loud and clear.
The game technically meant nothing to either team but both coaches surely wanted the win and the momentum heading into the first round of the state playoffs. The game was exciting from start to finish with both teams going on scoring stretches despite New Haven carrying the lead for much of the game.
New Haven head coach Tedaro France said his team entered the game treating it as if it was their championship game after missing out on the Gold title by one game to Mount Clemens.
“My guys worked so hard knowing that (LCN) were the MAC Red champs,” France said. “We missed our goal by one game so tonight was our MAC championship game playing against them.”
Leading the way for the Rockets offensively was Rayshawn Griffin with 28 points and Jamael Bell with 20 points.
Although the Crusaders matched up athletically fairly close with the Rockets, the pace of the game right from the start concerned L’Anse Creuse North head coach Jay Seletsky.
“I thinkthe biggest point of the game was their tempo. We’re giving up 45 points per game and they had 45 with three minutes to go in the third quarter,” Seletsky said. “They controlled the tempo the whole game and really caught us.”
Although the Crusaders won arguably the most difficult league in the county, Seletsky said confidence is a problem.
“For a team with 16 wins I think that at times we don’t play with the confidence that we should and that’s something we’re addressing now,” he said.
The Crusaders will need that confidence as they begin district play on March 5 against St. Clair on the road. The Saints finished right behind New Haven in the Gold and lost a triple overtime game to the Rockets on Feb. 7 so it will not be an easy road for LCN.
New Haven, however, will be hosting their district and will open with the winner of Dryden versus Memphis.
Although New Have won’t have a league title trophy to add to their collection, the win should serve to propel them on to a postseason run. How will that run start? According to France, by getting back to work.
“Bounce back, watch the film and go from there,” he said.
Contact Andrew Benoit by phone at (586) 716-8100, ext. 303 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact him on Facebook or Twitter @VoiceofBenoit.