Romeo Weems had just posted a triple-double to lead New Haven to a 20-point basketball victory over one of the better Macomb County programs in a game seen by two Big Ten coaches who are recruiting the junior.
Was he satisfied?
“I don’t think we did anything well,” the 6-foot-7 wing said. “I think we’re capable of a lot more. We’ve got stuff to work on.”
The fourth quarter of the Calihan Challenge game belonged to the Rockets.
They led De La Salle 55-53 as it opened, and then went on an 11-0 run that included a dunk and two free throws by Weems.
When the final horn sounded, New Haven had an 82-62 victory.
It was the MAC’s only triumph in five Calihan Hall games against Catholic League opponents, and it gave the defending state Class B champions a 28th consecutive win.
“In the fourth quarter, we lost Weems,” DLS coach Greg Esler said. “They are a very good team with a great player, and they are well coached.
“I thought we played hard for three quarters.”
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann were on hand to see Weems, who had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. What those coaches and everyone else saw was a New Haven team that can strike from multiple positions at moments that matter.
“People think we’ve got just one player,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said. “We’ve got other guys who can score.”
Senior forward Ashton Sherrell scored 18 points, senior guard Tavares Oliver 16 and junior guard Ronald Jeffery II 10.
Oliver canned a 3-pointer at the second quarter buzzer to trim the Pilots’ lead to 40-39, and Weems snuck inside for a tip-in at the third quarter buzzer to put the Rockets ahead 55-53.
Both developments displeased Esler.
“Our problem was game management,” Esler said. “We had a four-point lead with 15 seconds to go in the second quarter. We forced a move to the basket, and they hit a 3 at the buzzer.
“That gave them some momentum leading to the third quarter. Then they score at the buzzer to end the third.
“The only acceptable situation (at the end of the first half) was we are up by (four or more) and they don’t get a shot.”
De La Salle led for most of the first half in its season opener.
Seniors Kole Gjonaj (18 points), Luke Pfromm (17) and Jordan Winowiecki (13) paced the Pilot offense.
But there wasn’t enough offense in the fourth quarter.
“We kind of picked up the pressure in the second half,” France said. “We scored some points off turnovers.
“We pride ourselves on being in good shape. When the fourth quarter comes, that’s when we take off.”
France welcomed the opportunity to start the season against the only other Macomb County coach who has won a state championship.
Esler led Lake Shore to the 1994 Class B crown, and France knew DLS would test the Rockets in important ways.
“One thing is, you can’t get down against a team like that because they take care of the ball so well,” France said.
“Against them, you’ve got to play smart and limit turnovers. And you can’t give them more than one shot.”
New Haven meets Grosse Pointe South on Tuesday and then plays Dakota in its home opener Friday.
Prior to the MAC crossover game, the Rockets will receive their state championship rings.
The Pilots return to action Tuesday. They play host to Rochester.
“De La Salle is going to have to get better on the defensive end,” Esler said.