The machine just keeps rolling along.
New Haven made Monday’s Region 14 semifinal against Flint Northwestern look easy, coasting to a 97-66 victory and securing a spot in the regional title game.
The Rockets will play Pontiac Notre Dame Prep for the Region 14 championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
Despite a 31-point margin of victory, and an offense that neared the century mark, New Haven head coach Tedaro France II said his biggest sticking point was his defense — which he criticized.
“We struggled a bit and that was my main thing,” France II said. “We played hard, just not smart; we did a lot of things that are uncharacteristic for us.
“The good thing is we can go back and watch film, but I told my kids, in March you don’t always get to go back and fix things because if you lose you’re going home.”
The Rocket offense overshadowed any defense lapses New Haven may have had; New Haven (23-1; 10-0 MAC Blue) led by as many as 37 in the final minutes in the fourth quarter and got several easy buckets to bolster its advantage.
Romeo Weems turned in a triple-double in the victory, going for 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Though he made his presence felt all over the court Monday, he echoed his head coach’s sentiment regarding the Rocket defense.
“Everybody came out not ready to play,” he said. “We were able to win because maybe we’re a little bit better, but everybody didn’t play their best tonight.
“But we’ll go to practice and get things right.”
Eric Williams Jr. turned in a game-high 27 points and added five rebounds and three assists; Ashton Sherrell poured in 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
After spending a week in a district where the opposition tried slowing the Rockets down, New Haven found an opponent in Northwestern that was more than willing to get out and run. It backfired on the Wildcats.
After having its lead reduced to two, New Haven closed the first quarter on a 16-5 run and was never tested again.
“We want to get out and run and set the tempo, but we can do both,” France II said. “We have kids that get up and down the court, but we can take our time and run our sets as well.
“We want teams to adjust to us.”
The 16-5 run to end the quarter marked the second straight game where New Haven had to respond to early pressure. The Rockets were tested early in the first quarter of their district title game against Marysville, before going on to a 71-42 victory.
“We know runs are key and we’re a team that can go on big runs,” France II said. “We want to go on as many runs as we can, and we want to limit other teams to as few runs as we can.”
Darious Young scored a team-high 17 points for Northwestern, who finished the season with an 11-12 record, in the loss. Jakelveon Jackson finished with 16 points and Theatrich King added 11.
New Haven led 54-34 at the break and led 75-49 after the third quarter.
“They hurt us a lot with their length,” Northwestern head coach Napoleon Petteway said.
“We haven’t faced a team all year with that length.
“It’s kind of hard, when we cut it to 10 or 12, and they take back off on us.”
Monday’s loss to New Haven was also the final game for the Flint Northwestern program. The school’s athletic director confirmed to MLive last month that there will be no sports played at the school next year.