In terms of height, Sterling Heights and New Haven had their own version of David vs. Goliath when the two teams faced each other in a MAC Gold Division game on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for the smaller Stallions, they couldn't copy David's feat, getting overmatched by the bigger and more athletic Rockets, who easily handled Sterling Heights 83-44.
"We have size and the kids played hard," New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. "We stress playing great team defense and the kids are getting better at it, but we still have a long way to go. I'm proud of the kids because they still want to learn."
Sterling Heights coach Ryan Kay said he knew his team had a monumental task in front of them when they stepped onto the court.
"When you're going against guys who are 6-11 and 6-8, it's tough," Kay said. "Their wings are the problem. If you're boxing out their big guys, their wings are 6-4 and 6-6 and they're crashing the boards. Even when my guys were boxing out, they would just reach out over the top and get the rebound."
The Rockets’ size advantage and athleticism paid dividends from the opening tap, as they got numerous offensive rebounds and putbacks in the opening quarter, racing to a 21-12 lead after eight minutes. Dmonta Harris led the way with eight points, while Austin Sherrell added five points.
New Haven continued its dominance in the second quarter, outscoring the Stallions 20-6 in the period, extending its lead to 41-18 at halftime. Josh Harris led the charge with six points in the period.
"We knew Sterling Heights could shoot the ball and they hit some three-point shots," France said. "We wanted to contest shots and get better with our defensive rotations. We wanted to play a solid, complete game."
The Rockets put the game away in the third quarter, going on a 23-14 spurt, pushing their advantage to 64-32.
Dmonta Harris led New Haven with 26 points, while Sherrell added 19 points, and Innocent Nwoko contributed 10 points off the bench.
"Dmonta's been having a great year for us," France said. "He's a guard, but he rebounds like a post player. He's a smart player who is the first player in the gym and the last one to leave. He's a great talent and great kid to coach."
The win improved New Haven's record to 10-0 overall, 5-0 league. France said he's not taking anything for granted in terms of capturing the division title.
"The MAC Gold the last three or four years has been very good," France said. "It's a tough league and it's very competitive. We just have to prepare ourselves each day for the teams we play."
Sterling Heights was led by Raymond Hermez and Jordan Peoples with 12 points each, while Malot Dushaj contributed seven points.
"Raymond's only a junior and he got cut from the JV team last year," Kay said. "He's always hustling and keeps going. He has one of the best types of attitude that you could look for. We're looking for leaders and he showed that tonight."
Sterling Heights fell to 1-7 overall, 0-3 in the league with the loss.
"We did shoot the ball well tonight," Kay said. "I keep telling people we're young, but we're improving."