It’s A Wonderful Life?
“I’m going to go home and watch the game film once, and then it is time to get ready Eastpointe on Thursday,” said Hassan Nizam, the boys basketball coach at Roseville.
“All right, maybe twice,” said the coach, breaking into a huge smile.
Who can blame him? On Tuesday, his Panthers traveled to New Haven and registered a 65-60 victory over the host Rockets.
It was the first time that New Haven has lost a game in the Macomb Area Conference since December 16, 2016, when the Rockets fell to Dakota 72-66.
“My message to the team was simple and clear before the game; ever since I got hired here, every time we had some success, people said `Oh, they got a new coach and he changed the program.’ I told them that could not be further from the truth. We are doing what we are doing because we have great basketball players and great people in the locker room,” said Nizam.
Nobody was greater down the stretch than senior guard Darien Banks, who led everyone with 27 points.
It was Banks whose three-point play gave the Panthers a 55-53 lead with 1:47 to play. They would never again trail.
After New Haven knotted the score at 55-55, Banks went to work again, canning a driving layup to give the Panthers a two-point advantage again.
Appropriately enough, Banks connected on a pair of free throws with 4.8 to play to give Roseville its final point total.
Roseville out-scored New Haven 28-22 in the fourth quarter.
Senior forward John Okomadu was a serious presence both inside and outside for Roseville. He finished with 14 points. Darnell Reid scored 10 and Martell Turner finished with seven points.
For New Haven (1-1), Ronald Jeffery III led the way with 22 points. He is a senior guard. Romeo Weems scored 20. The 6-7 senior will be playing at DePaul University next year. Eddie Dandridge III had eight points, and Jamir Farrior scored six.
“Coach Tedaro France has the best program in Macomb County, and one of the top three in the state,” said Nizam. “To come in here and do what we did, I cannot even hold back the tears because of how happy I am for my guys.
“To start the season 2-0 after playing two teams that played at the Breslin last year is unbelievable,” continued the Roseville coach. “Romeo Weems is a heckuva player. Tedaro is one heck of a coach. This was a great atmosphere. To get out of here alive, it felt like March.”
Roseville (2-0) defeated De La Salle, 59-42, in its opener on Saturday. That same day, New Haven downed the University of Detroit Jesuit 70-58.
Both games were played at University of Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.
Both De La Salle and New Haven advanced to the state semifinals last year. In 2017, New Haven won the Class B state championship.
Coach France is happy that the Roseville game was not played in March.
“When we won the state championship in 2017, we lost the second game of the year,” said France, referring to that defeat against Dakota. “That helped us focus. Our first loss last year was in the state final four.
“I think that for this group, it is good we took a loss now. We knew coming into this that we would get the best effort from each team we played, whether it was here or on the road,” he continued.
“It is a growing experience. We have some new guys stepping into new roles. It will take us some time to gel. Despite the loss, we had some kids step up. One thing you can’t coach is in-game experience. What better way than to have a playoff atmosphere in December,” continued France. “We’ll learn and grow from it and continue to get better.”
New Haven travels to Lake Shore Thursday night.