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ST. CLAIR >> It was Alante Stevens’ turn to shine.
On a team the features two Division I college recruits in the paint, senior guard Stevens scored 19 points Thursday night to lead New Haven to a 70-44 MAC Gold Division boys basketball victory over St. Clair.
Stevens had 13 points in the first half as New Haven built a 33-15 lead before a vocal crowd in the Saints’ gymnasium.
“It was very crazy in here,” Stevens said of the atmosphere. “This is a tough place to play.”
But the Rockets did their best to take the St. Clair crowd out of the game – or at least curb its enthusiasm -- with a 15-0 run that gave the visitors a 19-2 lead in the first quarter.
“My teammates fed me the ball and I produced,” Stevens said. “I am just happy we were able to come out with the win.”
New Haven improved to 8-0 in the division and 13-1 overall. St. Clair, in second place in the Gold, is 6-2 in division games and 9-4 overall.
Stevens was not part of the Rockets’ regular playing rotation last season when they won the Gold title and added district and regional championships.
But the 6-foot-1 Stevens, who also plays football and soccer for the Rockets, told coach Tedaro France he would be ready to contribute mightily this season.
“He stepped into a real big role this year,” France said. “He’s a great leader. The way he plays on defense and the way he runs our team are very important to us.
“He took it upon himself to work hard in the gym. He told me he would be ready this season. He’s a great kid.”
Jerry Ben, a Cornell recruit, scored 14 points and Central Michigan signee Innocent Nwoko had 12 for New Haven.
Eric Williams Jr. scored 11 points and ninth-grader Romeo Weems had 10 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, six blocked shots and eight steals.
Ben Davidson led St. Clair with 10 points.
The Rockets held St. Clair to five points in the second quarter and led 33-15 at halftime.
Stevens’ three-point play capped New Haven’s 15-0 run in the first quarter, and he scored the Rockets’ final six points of the first period on a pair of 3-point field goals.
Ben started the spree with consecutive baskets, the second on a dunk by the 6-9 senior.
Nwoko had 11 rebounds.