By Chuck Pleiness
New Haven’s boys basketball coach Tedaro France II emerged from film session Monday evening and immediately went into to the keys of what the Rockets need to do to reach the state semifinals.
1. Take care of the ball.
2. Rebound the ball.
3. Play great team defense.
“If we do those three things right and have a few more things go our way we’re going to be successful,” France said. “It’s going to be another tough game, another dogfight.”
The Rockets (25-0) will face Detroit Henry Ford at Marysville at 7 p.m., Tuesday in a Class B state quarterfinal with a trip to East Lansing on the line.
“They’re not here by accident,” France said of Henry Ford. “They’re a tough team and it’s March now. We can’t play this game and get things fixed. We have to get them fixed now. We can’t afford to make those mistakes. We’ve had 25 games to fail. Now let’s learn from those mistakes for games like this.”
The Trojans (18-5), who topped Detroit Consortium 70-52 in a regional final, are led by wingman Josh Davis and point guard James Towns. Davis, who’s committed to Western Michigan, scored 23 points against Consortium, while Towns netted 17.
“Tough team, quick, athletic and scrappy,” France said. “They’ve got two great players and 12 good players. Davis can shoot and drive the ball. Towns is probably one of the best point guards I’ve seen play this year. They’re a solid team. They’ll press you and get up in your face.”
New Haven, which became just the seventh team from Macomb County to finish the regular season 20-0, has not advanced past the quarters it its previous two trips.
“With all the hoopla, I’m just trying to keep our guys focused, stay within themselves,” France said. “Sometimes when a kid gets in a big game they want to do more. I’ve just kept telling them to keep doing what they’re doing. Do their job and don’t do the next player’s job. If we stay within our game plan and be ourselves we should be alright.
“We have to do the smart things for 32 minutes to get there,” France added. “That’s going to be the key.”
The Rockets trailed Detroit Osborn by seven with under a minute to go in their regional final, but came back to win in overtime, 68-66.
Dmonta Harris hit a triple with three seconds left in regulation that sent the game into OT and from that point New Haven outscored Osborn 7-5 at the free-throw line.
“We’re not worried about our offense because we can get that by playing great defense,” France said. “The offense will come. One thing we can’t do is have a bad game defensively.
“I tell them to be still within, but be still outside,” France continued. “So be calm within, but outside don’t show signs of weakness, just be solid the whole game.”
Harris has totaled 45 points over the Rockets’ last two wins.
“They’re very similar to Osborn,” Harris said. “We haven’t put together that complete game, like I know we can do. We’ve been victorious without it.”
France can’t wait to see that first perfect game from his team.
“This would be a great time to do it,” France said. “We’ve shown signs. I think this team is on the verge of doing something special.”
The winner will face the winner of the game between Essexville Garber (21-4) and Cadillac (17-8) in a semifinal, Friday at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University at 7:50 p.m.
“There’s no time to be nervous,” Harris said. “We have to be ready and prepared. And I think we’ve prepared ourselves.”