NORTH BRANCH – New Haven coach Tedaro France II knows all about the rich basketball tradition at Flint Northwestern High School.
The Wildcats were looking to continue a magical run in their final season, but the Rockets spoiled the day with a 97-66 win Monday in the Class B regional semifinals at North Branch High School.
“I knew coming into it that they were playing for a lot more than just themselves, more than just this game,” France said. “They were playing for a school that has a history of great basketball.”
After falling behind 8-2 in the first quarter, Northwestern trimmed the deficit to 13-11 after a layup by Manuel Wood but turned the ball over three times and was called for an administrative technical foul in the final minute.
By halftime, New Haven used its length and athleticism to boost the lead to 54-34. The Rockets led by as many as 37 points in the fourth quarter.
Four-star recruit Romeo Weems finished with a triple double. He posted 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists plus two blocks and two steals. Weems currently holds at least six offers from Division I schools, including Michigan State.
“We didn’t play our best defensive game but we stepped up when we needed to and went on some runs,” Weems said. “We came in ready to play. We prepped and knew their best players.”
Eric Williams led New Haven with a game-high 27 points and Ashton Sherrell finished with 22 points.
Darious Young was Northwestern’s top scorer with 17 points. Jakelveon Jackson added 16 points and Theatrice King ended with 11 points.
New Haven (23-1) is looking to capture its third straight regional title at 7 p.m. Wednesday versus Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
“I feel more experienced,” Weems said. “If things got out of hand, I’ll slow it down more. I’m still young, though, but I just try to play smart.”
For Northwestern, Monday was likely the last basketball game as the sports program will merge with Flint Southwestern next season. Coach Napoleon Petteway said it hadn’t hit him yet. He compared this season to a roller coaster ride, with numerous ups and downs.
“We exceeded all expectations,” Petteway said. “And it paid off for use, especially in districts and up to this point. We just ran into a team that was better than us. New Haven is a good team. A solid ball club.”
Petteway said he will take some time away from basketball to relax then explore his options for next season.
“For me, it’s been a pleasure to coach Northwestern these four years,” Petteway said. “I accomplished a lot as a coach from my first year, starting off 6-16 all the way up to my second year, being ranked in the state, and my third and fourth year winning district titles.”
The Flint Community Schools have yet to confirm anything officially about next year’s merger, but former Northwestern athletic director Michael Thompson told MLive-The Flint Journal that the school is eliminating all athletics after this season.
“At this time, nothing has been finalized with regard to academics or athletics,” said Flint Schools Superintendent Bilal Tawwab. “Once we have finalized plans for the 2017-18 school year, we will communicate accordingly to our parents and the community.”
Young was one of two seniors on this year’s Wildcats team that finished 11-12. Even in defeat, he was proud to be a Wildcat.
“The school and just the environment in the city will be missed,” Young said. “It’s gonna sink in sooner or later but it hasn’t right now. They will combine the schools.”