@VoiceMIPrepZone on Twitter
New Haven is a new champion in a new world.
Romeo Weems scored points 19 points and Eric Williams Jr. had 14 to lead the Rockets to a 45-36 victory over Ludington and the state Class B boys basketball championship at the Breslin Center on Saturday night.
New Haven became the second Macomb County boys team to win a state championship and the first since Lake Shore won the Class B crown in 1994.
A lot has changed since those Shorians celebrated after defeating East Grand Rapids 38-37 on the Breslin Center floor.
Tedaro France II was a ninth-grader at New Haven that spring.
Later, he played for a couple of outstanding Rockets basketball teams, went to Central Michigan University on a football scholarship and eventually returned to his home town in 2008-09 to coach basketball.
School of choice was merely a concept when France was in high school.
Today it’s a widely used tool in education and athletics, a tool that in some minds is misused and overused.
France hears the naysayers.
He knows there are critics of the New Haven program, those who diminish the Rockets’ success because the newly minted state champions have four starters, including highly touted 6-foot-6 sophomore Weems, who didn’t grow up in New Haven like the coach did.
“People say, ’You win because you get these kids,’” France said. “We (hear) that a lot.
“But you see it all across the state.”
France takes the chatter in stride.
“I don’t recruit kids here,” he said. “I can’t control parents who want to bring their kids here.
“I can’t tell people no, and I can’t tell people to come here. Parents are going to send their kids where they want to.”
Prior to the 2011-12 season, New Haven had won one regional championship. Then the Rockets won a 2012 regional tournament at Vassar.
“We won with all kids who went to middle school here,” France said.
Since then, the Rockets have benefited from school of choice enrollees.
“Our program is going to attract kids,” France said. “But of course I get blamed for it.
“People can say I recruit or I cheat or whatever. It doesn’t matter. We just work hard.”
New Haven won some high-scoring games this season. The Rockets beat Ludington with their lowest scoring output of the 28 games they played.
New Haven went to its trademark defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Orioles to six points.
The Rockets blocked out Ludington, not unlike the way France blocks out detractors.
“I tell my players, ‘Let’s worry about us,’” France said.
“As long as we know what we’re doing and doing it right, and we do the right things, don’t worry about what other people say.
“Other people will try to bring you down no matter what.”