By Adam Rickert
It took a quarter for them to find their stride, but once the New Haven Rockets’ boys basketball team did it was all over for Mount Clemens, Monday night.
New Haven outscored the Bathers 61-35 over the final three quarters to cruise to a 78-52 win and reach the championship game of the Rocket Holiday Classic.
Tied 17-17 after the first quarter, New Haven took a 14-point lead into the half and cruised to victory.
The Rockets shared the ball well and exhibited great team play; five different New Haven players scored 10 points or more.
“We’ve got a young group so I have to have a lot of patience, but they’ve been working hard,” said New Haven coach Tedaro France. “We’ve been playing hard and doing a lot of things well.”
Leading the Rockets in scoring was Innocent Nwoko, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Jerry Ben had 15 points and 14 boards, while and Alante Stevens and Romeo Weems each scored 13. Weems also took down 11 rebounds.
Weems, a 6’6 freshmen, would have likely scored more had he not run into foul trouble early in the second half.
When Weems showed some frustration following his fourth foul of the game early in the fourth quarter, Nwoko took him aside and calmed him down.
“Innocent has been a great leader for us, being a young team,” France said. “He’s done a great job showing the young guys that there are going to be times during the game when things don’t go well.”
Weems’s 13 points and defensive prowess in the small amount of time he was on the court showed how vital he is to New Haven’s team going forward this year and in the future.
“He’s very, very skilled,” said France of Weems. “Athletic, skilled, still young and still trying to learn the game, but the kid can play.
“The sky’s the limit for him; he just does so many things so well,” France added.
The Bathers were led by Jordan Cotton, Austin Maiuri and Delano Williams. Cotton scored 15 points, Maiuri had 13 and Williams had 10.
New Haven will take on South Lake, which dispatched Michigan Collegiate 67-49 early on Monday, at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the championship game.