'Miracle' victory brings New Haven a regional championship
YALE >> Dmonta Harris says he has ice water in his veins.
Wednesday night the New Haven senior proved it.
Harris knocked down a triple with three seconds left to play in the fourth quarter that sent the Rockets’ Class B regional final with Detroit Osborn into overtime.
From that point, New Haven outscored the Knights 7-5 at the free-throw line to escape with a 68-66 win and keep its unblemished record intact heading to the state quarterfinals.
“I did say I had ice in my veins,” a relived Harris said. “I was nervous, but I knew I had to pull it off.”
New Haven (25-0) will face Detroit Henry Ford, which topped Detroit Consortium 70-52, at Marysville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. with a trip to East Lansing on the line.
“I’m only 17 years old and this is the best feeling I’ve had in the life,” said Harris, who finished with 23 points. “There’s nothing better than this right now.”
It’s just the third regional title in school history for the Rockets, who remain the only team without a loss in the Class B state tournament.
This one wasn’t easy for New Haven, which trailed by seven, 60-53 with under a minute to play.
But as a few of the Rocket fans were leaving the gym, the team began the comeback.
It started with a triple from Austin Sherrell (15 points, five rebounds) with 31.3 seconds to play.
After a missed Osborn free throw, Harris got an offensive board and a layup to get New Haven to within two, 60-58.
The Rockets then got the turnover they were looking for on the inbounds pass, but then gave the ball right back to Osborn (14-9) with a turnover of their own and wound up having to send the Knights back to the free-throw line.
After making 1-of-2, Marquis Perkins (six assists) got the ball into Harris’ hands and he did the rest, draining the triple with three seconds to play in regulation.
“He had a real slow, slow first half,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. “He turned the ball over a few times so I had a quick chat with him during the break. I told him he’s a leader on this team. If he took off we’d take off. He played a great second half, made some big shots only a kid like him could make.
“He’s made plays for us all year, but tonight shows just what kind of player he is,” France continued. “He never put his head down. He stayed strong and stayed confident. His teammates picked him up and told him it was his game and he looked and me and said, ‘I’ve got you coach.’”
Harris had 22 points in the Rockets’ regional semifinal win over Yale.
“I saw people get up and leave because they thought the game was over,” France said. “This team has so much heart and resilience. They never quit.
“This year has been a special year and it shows how much they’ve grown,” France continued. “There’s no quit. The kids were saying on the sideline that we weren’t going to lose this game. To have that kind of confidence in their teammates is unreal. To get past this game right here with this group of kids is truly special.”
In overtime, New Haven went 7-for-10 at the free-throw line compared to 5-for-8 for Osborn.
“People see our record and they don’t know how much we’ve been through,” France said. “Each day is a struggle, but these kids take it in stride.”
Jerry Benn and Innocent Nwoko each had three blocks, while John Galloway finished with five assists.
The Rockets have won three regional titles in 13 tries. They also won in a title in 2012 and 1990.
“This is such a special moment for our school because we’ve failed at this moment so many times,” France said. “I told them to believe and they did. Not one time did I see a look in their faces of defeat. They knew they were going to win this game.”
Josh Harris chipped in nine points.
The Knights had four in double figure scoring – Christian Little John (13 points), Joseph Thomas (14 points), Dajon Watson (11 points) and DeAndre May (10 points).
“The fourth quarter, free-throw shooting, we just didn’t get it done and gave them opportunities,” said Osborn coach Lonell Williams, whose squad was 1-for-4 in the final minute at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. “We were up seven. I think we started celebrating too soon.”