By Chuck Pleiness
Getting an outside jump shot to fall has sometimes been difficult for New Haven’s boys basketball team.
But when the Rockets have needed them to fall they’ve always seemed to find the mark and that proved to be the case once again in a Class B regional semifinal at Yale, Monday, against the host Bulldogs.
Marquis Perkins buried a triple just seconds after New Haven claiming the opening tip. He proceeded to drain another shot from behind the arc and got two more buckets to fall soon after.
“We’re not the best shooting team, but we’ve knocked down shots when we’ve needed to,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said Tuesday before practice. “It’s gotten much better in March.”
Perkins scored all 10 of his points in that quarter as New Haven raced out to a 14-7 lead, which took Yale completely out of its game plan and led to a 61-39 win for the Rockets.
“I know when he knocks down his first shot we’re going to have a good game,” France said of Perkins. “He’s our motor. He’s been in a slump. His confidence is there now. He’s not just taking shots, he taking shots to make them.
“If we can hit the outside shot it just makes it tougher for teams to defend us,” France added. “Teams know we can drive and score inside so when we’re knocking down our shots that just opens up our offense a lot more.”
Making shots is a confidence thing.
“Sometimes a kid misses two or three shots and that’s all they think about it,” France said. “I tell my kids to just relax. I never get mad if you miss shots. I might get mad if you get beat on defense.
“I want them to have the confidence on the floor to take shots,” France continued. “I think they feel secure. I don’t want them looking at me if they miss a shot and see if they’re coming out. They can shoot knowing that we don’t need them making shots.”
New Haven, which is the last team in the Class B tournament without a loss, faces Detroit Osborn, Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the regional championship.
The Knights, who advanced with a 62-55 win over Notre Dame Prep to improve to 14-8, have a squad that’s a mirror image of New Haven (24-0).
“They’ve got great size,” said France, who squad became just the seventh Macomb County team to finish the regular season 20-0. “They’re a PSL team so of course anytime they play a team north of Eight Mile they’re going to try and pressure us. One key will be us taking care of the ball. We have to rebound well.”
Osborn, which had three players in double figure scoring on Monday, has a pair of 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-6 players, along will skilled guards.
“They play hard,” France said. “We’ve got our hands full. We have to come out and do the smart things. Take charges. box out, but taking care of the ball will be key.”
And after playing two true road games – a district final win over host Marysville and Monday over host Yale in a regional semi – the Rockets finally face a team on a neutral court.
“We feel we’re kind of the home team,” France said. “Yale played in a league with us for so many years so hopefully (those fans) will come out and help some.”
The Rockets last appeared in a regional final in 2012, topping Vassar, in Class C, before falling to Shelby in the quarters. They also won a regional title 1990.
Wednesday’s winner faces the winner of the regional final between Detroit Consortium (17-5) and Detroit Henry Ford (17-5) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Marysville in a state quarterfinal.