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IMLAY CITY >>
New Haven is on the quarterfinal doorstep again – barely.
Alante Stevens scored 15 points and Eric Williams Jr. added 14 as New Haven defeated Detroit Country Day 45-44 in a Class B boys regional basketball semifinal game at Imlay City on Monday night.
Country Day’s Milan Williams drove the lane but tumbled out of bounds under the basket as time expired to enable New Haven to set up a meeting with Lake Fenton for the regional championship.
“We lived to see another day,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said.
Country Day missed a shot from in the paint, but New Haven knocked the ball out of bounds with 4.5 seconds to play, giving the Yellowjackets another opportunity to take the game from the Rockets.
Country Day inbounded the ball to Milan Williams, but the 6-foot-3 senior’s drive into the lane yielded no field goal attempt.
“It’s too bad,” Country Day coach Mark Bray said.
New Haven led 30-15 at halftime and 37-19 midway through the third quarter.
“We didn’t do the things we needed to do in the first half,” Bray said. “We played the first half like they’re better than us. They’re not.
“They beat us, but we didn’t play a full game. We play a full game, and we win. That’s the deal.”
The Rockets (21-2) are trying to win a regional championship for the second time in as many years and the fourth time in program history.
They advanced despite missing 14 free throws, including five in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
“Free throws, free throws, free throws -- that was key,” France said. “When you’re missing those, it lets the other team back in the game.
“We shot horrendous from the free throw line. We’ve got to get that fixed.”
New Haven went ahead 45-40 on a basket by ninth-grader Romeo Weems with 3:19 to play, but the Rockets did not score the rest of the night as the Yellowjackets employed a 1-2-2 halfcourt trapping defense.
“We couldn’t score against them,” France said. “I thought we attacked it well, but we didn’t make shots and we didn’t make free throws. We didn’t take care of the ball. We had a lot of turnovers.
“But we still played. I give credit to my guys.”
Paul Mocur led long-time state power Country Day (9-15) with 13 points.
Kolin Demens had nine for the Yellowjackets, who won eight state Class B championships from 1990-2013.
“They’re a well-coached team,” France said of the Yellowjackets. “They took advantage of our missed shots. They got down, but they never quit.
“We were lucky to come out of here with the win. We’re very blessed.”
Junior forward Cole Bearden scored off an offensive rebound and Demens scored on a tip-in as Country Day scored the last four points of the third quarter and pulled to within 41-36 of New Haven, which earlier in the quarter had enjoyed a double-figure lead.
Country Day, which trailed by double digits at halftime into the third quarter, pulled to within 41-32 on Mocur’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:14 left in the third.
New Haven led 37-19 when Williams split two free throws with 4:39 left in the third quarter, but the Yellowjackets rallied to within 39-27 with less than three minutes to play.
The Rockets’ Williams made two 3-point field goals and a pair of technical foul shots as New Haven outscored Country Day 17-7 in the second quarter for a 30-15 halftime lead.
Williams made the second of his second-quarter 3-pointers from the left wing, a favorite shooting spot for the 6-4 junior.
Central Michigan recruit Innocent Nwoko capped the Rockets’ first-half scoring with a dunk.
The Rockets’ Stevens scored the first five points of the game
Lake Fenton (21-3) advanced to the regional final with a 59-40 victory over Yale, a Blue Water Area Conference co-champion. Yale finished 19-5.
LAKE FENTON 59, YALE 40: Jalen Miller scored 16 points and Chris Bell had 14 to lead the Blue Devils in the regional semifinal at Imlay City. Isaac Golson and Andrew Foerster had 10 points apiece for Lake Fenton (21-3). Cody Kegley, who has signed with Northern Michigan, scored 14 points in his final game for Yale (19-5). Kegley had one of Yale’s four 3-pointers in the second quarter and the Bulldogs led by as many as four points, but the teams were tied 29-all at halftime. Lake Fenton then started the second half on a 14-2 run for a 43-31 lead. The Blue Devils stretched their lead to 21 points in the fourth quarter.