The New Haven Express rolled into the championship round of the MAC Blue/Gold boys basketball tournament.
Romeo Weems scored 16 of his 24 points and Tavares Oliver 12 of his 14 in the first half to lead the Rockets to a 49-18 advantage and carry undefeated — and largely unchallenged — New Haven to a 75-25 victory over Warren Woods-Tower in a tournament semifinal game on the Titans’ floor Tuesday night.
Ronald Jeffery III added 11 points and Ashton Sherrell 10, and Ascaun Johnson had 11 rebounds as New Haven ran its two-year winning streak to 44 games and qualified for the tournament championship game that starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at Grosse Pointe North.
New Haven (18-0), which has won its games by an average margin of 34 points this season, will take on Lake Shore looking for its second Blue/Gold tournament championship in the two-year history of the event.
The Rockets’ work habits give them confidence that they can win the tournament, Weems said.
“We go hard at practice every day and improve,” Weems, a 6-foot-7 junior wing, said. “We don’t take days off. We compete at practice every day.”
Weems and Oliver called the Rockets’ practices “intense.”
“We go at it,” Weems said. “Our scout team goes hard, running (the opponent’s) offense. Every day is intense. I’m not going to let my guys slack off.”
“Our coach,” Oliver added, referring to Tedaro France II, “makes our practices hard so the games seem easy. It’s intense. Everybody is competing, trying to make us better.”
Oliver said the Rockets approached playing Warren Woods-Tower like any game.
“We play everybody like they’re the best team we’ve played,” the senior guard said. “We take every game the same way.”
The Rockets are two victories from something they didn’t accomplish during their run to the 2017 state Class B championship— a 20-0 regular season.
New Haven lost its second game of the 2016-17 campaign to Dakota and then reeled off 26 wins in a row on the way to the second state championship won by a county boys team.
Weems and Oliver provided the offensive spark during the first half when the MAC Blue champion Rockets took advantage of other strengths like pressure defense and rebounding to build the big lead against the MAC Gold Titans.
New Haven continued to distance itself from WWT in the third quarter, taking a 55-18 power dunk by Weems.
Part of the second half was played under running clock after the New Haven lead grew to 40 points.
Charles Anderson-Louis led the Titans (11-7) with 10 points.
“We just didn’t have everyone on the same page,” Titans coach Nick Evola said. “They took it to us.
“Instead of digging deep and finding a way, we unraveled. Credit to them, they had that killer instinct. We didn’t answer.”
Lake Shore advanced with a 70-68 victory over St. Clair, the MAC Gold champion.