By Chuck Pleiness
New Haven may have played its worst game of the season on Tuesday at Marysville High School.
Despite that performance, the Rockets are still alive in the Class B boys basketball state tournament.
“We probably played our worst game of the year and found a way to win,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. “It can’t get any worse than that.
“We’re going to make mistakes, but can we learn from them,” France continued. “I’m glad we had that game because they know that we have to get those things fixed before they hurt us. Hopefully they learned from it.”
The Rockets scrapped their way to a 73-66 win over Detroit Osborn to reach a Class B state semifinal Friday at 6 p.m. at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University where they will meet Benton Harbor.
“We had to fight through a lot of things and I think that showed our growth as a team,” France said. “Even though we were down late we learned not to take bad shots and not to rush. We stayed composed and got the job done.
“I told them we might have bad night shooting the ball, we might turn the ball over some, but we should never have a bad night defensively,” France added. “If shots aren't falling let’s go get it back on the defensive side of things.”
The Rockets are in the state semis for the first time after getting knocked out in the quarterfinals four other times prior, including the last two seasons.
“I asked them yesterday if they were happy just getting here and they told me they weren’t and that they were going there to win it,” France said. “They’re focused. It’s good that they’re excited, but at the same time they have a job to do.”
Lake Shore has Macomb County's lone boys basketball state championship, winning the Class B title in the 1993-94 season.
“That was one of the worst games we played, but it was one of the hardest we’ve played as far as toughness and willingness to win the game,” Romeo Weems said of the Osborn contest. “People really stepped up. We didn’t play that good offensively or defensively, we just played hard, that’s why we got the game.
“We got that out of the way,” Weems continued. “We’re not going to play bad anymore. We’re going to play harder from here on out. We played hard last game, but we’re going to play harder and better next game and more together as a team.”
Macomb County also has had just two other state finalists – Eastland (Class C, 1948-49) and South Lake (Class D, 1930-31).
“We played hard and that’s what made up for most of the bad stuff that happened,” Eric Williams Jr. said. “We had to win every 50-50 ball, grab every rebound we can and we did just that.”
The Rockets (25-1) have won 24 games in a row. Their only loss was to Dakota, which lost in a Class A state semi last season.
New Haven is facing a team in Benton Harbor that’s a mirror image of the Rockets (22-3).
“They’re tough, scrappy, press and trap,” France said. “We have to take care of the ball, continue to play our game and defend.”
The Tigers are led by freshman guard Carlos Johnson, who scored 12 in their 46-44 last-second win over Spring Lake in the quarters.
“If we control him and play like we’ve been playing I think we’ll be fine,” Williams said. “I think we were supposed to be here. It’s not a lucky thing. We have a great shot at winning it all. We weren’t focused on getting over the (quarterfinal) hump, just focused on moving on.”
Roy Anderson connected on a driving layup with six seconds left to lead the Tigers, who were state runners-up in 2014, to the win over Spring Lake. He finished with 19 points.
River Rouge (24-1) meets Ludington (24-2) in the other semifinal at 7:50 p.m. The Class B state championship game is Saturday at 6:30 p.m.