Class B: Eric Williams leads New Haven to state final

David Goricki
The Detroit News

East Lansing – New Haven showcases one of the premier sophomores in the country in 6-foot-6 guard Romeo Weems, but it was teammate Eric Williams who had the first half of a lifetime in front of Michigan coach John Beilein.

Williams, a 6-foot-4 senior, without a Division I offer, put on a show in a 78-49 victory over Benton Harbor (22-4) in a Class B state semifinal Friday at Breslin Center.

BOX SCORE: New Haven 78, Benton Harbor 49

New Haven is the first team from Macomb Country to reach the state championship game since St. Clair Shores Lake Shore won the Class B title in 1994.

Williams displayed his offensive repertoire during the first half when he scored all 22 of his points, or more than Benton Harbor’s entire team, to help New Haven (26-1) run out to a commanding 43-19 lead.

Williams made three 3-pointers, including a 25-footer to give New Haven a 37-18 lead. He also scored off of four first-half putbacks and even found time to hit Weems with an alley-oop pass.

“I just came out aggressive,” said Williams who made 8-of-12 first-half shots and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds for the game. “I was just looking for wherever the ball went, just trying to get rebounds for second-chance points for our team.”

New Haven made 6-of-10 3-pointers during the first half with Williams connecting on 3-of-4, also pounding the offensive glass to get 15 offensive rebounds with Williams grabbing five.

“Eric is having a special season, to me he’s one of the top wings in the entire state,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said. “He’s shooting the ball well and one of the things he’s done well lately is his defense. Now, he’s the complete player. He’s probably one of the hottest players in the state.”

New Haven more than doubled up the score on Benton Harbor after three, carrying a 63-31 lead into the final quarter with the only question in doubt was whether Weems would get a triple-double. He finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

Weems, who has offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Creighton, Oakland and Detroit, was thrilled to get the chance to play at Breslin.

“I had fun from the minute I stepped out there,” Weems said. “I was smiling, just having fun.”

Weems is surprised Williams is without a Division I offer.

“He’s been performing well and he’s had 50-point games, 40-point games and 30-point games and he’s been a beast on rebounds lately,” Weem said of Williams, who is averaging 21 points and 6.5 rebounds. “He’s defending, talking more, just being a leader.”

New Haven will be playing for a state championship after a quarterfinal loss to state champion Detroit Henry Ford last year.

Carlos Johnson, a 6-6 center who is one of the top freshmen in the state, had nine points and 10 rebounds for Benton Harbor. @DavidGoricki