The Welcome Mat will be out in New Haven next week.
Not just by the hearth of the fireplace on Christmas morning, when that jolly old fat man commits breaking and entering at countless houses not just in New Haven but around the world.
But also on Wednesday, December 27, and Thursday, December 28, when coach Tedaro France once again welcomes three visiting teams for the New Haven Christmas Tournament.
“This is my 10th season. I remember those first few years when we did not play during the holidays. It was a long, long break,” said France. “Holding a holiday tournament is nice. A lot of families come home for the holidays. A lot of people are off work, so it gives parents a chance to see us play.
“We’ve had great crowds the last four of five years. We haven’t lost in the tournament, either,” said France, laughing.
His team is an overwhelming favorite to continue that streak. The New Haven Rockets are the defending Class B state champions. The 2016-2017 Rockets became just the second boys basketball team in Macomb County to win a state championship. Last season, they also won back to back league, district, and regional championship, as well as the MAC tournament in the Blue/Gold Division.
The Rockets set a school record for wins in a season, going 27-1. They averaged 78.4 points per game, another school record, and their average winning margin was nearly 30 points.
The tournament’s opening day is Wednesday, Dec. 27. South Lake will take on Michigan Collegiate at 4 p.m. The host Rockets will meet Mount Clemens at 6 p.m.
The next night, the consolation finals will tip off at 4. The championship will be decided at 6.
Junior varsity teams will also be playing. On Wednesday, South Lake and Michigan Collegiate will meet at noon, with Mount Clemens taking on New Haven starting at 2. On Thursday, the consolation game will start at noon, with the championship game beginning two hours later.
Not to upstage Santa Claus, but on Saturday, Dec. 23, the varsity team will take on an alumni squad. There will be more than trash talking on the court, too.
“It’s important for these players to hear from former players about what it was like when they played, the things they went through, that sort of thing. After a while, it’s good to hear other voices. This is a very good group of guys, but they probably get tired of hearing me talk,” said France, laughing again.
“This is a hard-working team. People think we are playing well, but we have a long way to go. These are kids who want to be coached. They learn from their mistakes,” continued the New Haven coach.
The Rockets, who have now won 30 consecutive games, have not made many mistakes lately.
New Haven isn’t the only county school hosting a holiday tournament next week.
L’Anse Creuse North will be the site of the Crusader Classic. Joining coach Jay Seletsky’s Crusaders will be Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Grosse Pointe North and Anchor Bay.
On the 27th, St. Mary’s and Grosse Pointe North will meet at 6 p.m. Anchor Bay and the Crusaders will see one another at 7:30.
The consolation and championship games will be played the next night, with the consolation game tipping off at 6, and the title game at 7:30.
While it is not a holiday tournament, the Big Reds of Chippewa Valley will host Clintondale at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 27.