For a coach dealing with an injured star player, the mantra never changes: Next man up.
But for New Haven boys basketball coach Tedaro France, the mantra was never necessary.
Despite missing five-star recruit Romeo Weems, New Haven defeated St. Clair Shores South Lake in the New Haven Holiday Classic championship game, 74-57, on Thursday in the latest installment of a winning streak that has reached 31 games and apparently knows no obstacles.
“People thought with (Weems) out we would take a step back,” France said.
The defending Class B state champs did quite the opposite.
Tavares Oliver Jr. dropped 27 points, Ascaun Johnson added 20 and Ashton Sherrell chipped in 16 for New Haven, whose offensive pace South Lake simply couldn’t compete with in crunch time.
South Lake cut New Haven’s lead to eight in the fourth quarter behind Amier Gilmore’s 16 points, but was stopped short of a comeback when the tournament’s host put all hands on deck at the defensive end.
“That’s what we do,” France said. “The kids here know they won’t play unless they defend.”
Malen Lewis, a 6-foot-5 forward who France said was the “spark” behind New Haven’s late defensive effort, was one of a few players who shined in Weem’s absence.
“He’s not a guy that’s going to fill the stat sheet, but he made some plays in there,” France said. “He stepped up and earned more minutes.”
Then there’s Johnson, a 6-5 wing who also grabbed eight rebounds, and is finding his way as the season goes on.
“Tonight it showed that if we can get (Johnson) playing like this consistently, we can be an even better team that we are now,” France said. “That’s scary.”
And, of course, Oliver, a senior guard who added five assists, commanded respect as a scorer throughout the tournament, dropping an additional 28 points in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Mount Clemens.
It wasn’t the championship New Haven fixed its eyes on when they started the season, but France is still excited about his role players who “showed they can be called on” and “responded well” to a high-intensity situation.
“It’s a big win knowing that we got a key player out and that we played a very solid team in South Lake,” he said.
More boys basketball
Detroit East English Village 80, Clarkston 71: David Dejulius had 42 points and 10 rebounds for East English (7-2). Foster Loyer scored 21 for Clarkston.
Detroit Mumford 53, Redford Union 44: Brandon Green scored 25 and Anthony Taylor added 20 for Mumford (7-0). Amir Huston scored 17 for Redford Union (3-3).
Macomb Dakota 84, Muskegon Mona Shores 69: Ryan Rollins had 36 points and nine rebounds, Courtez Gordon added 12 points and 15 rebounds, and Mark Tocco had 11 assists for Dakota (3-2). Jarvis Walker Jr. scored 39 for Mona Shores (0-4).
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 45, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 40: Lorne Bowman had 25 points and Caden Prieksorn 14 for St. Mary’s (5-1). Micaih Johnson scored 11 for North (4-2).
Warren De La Salle 69, Williamston 59: Kole Gjonaj had 26 points, Luke Pfromm 19, and Jordan Wniowiecki scored 10 fourth-quarter points for De La Salle (3-2). Cole Kliever had 21 points for Williamston (4-2)
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Benton Harbor 94, Paw Paw 51
Detroit Henry Ford 48, Kalamazoo Central 42
Warren Michigan Collegiate 63, Mount Clemens 19
Detroit Country Day 79, Bishop Hartley (OH) 60: Kaela Webb and Jasmine Powell each scored 19 and Adrian Folks had 18 for Country Day (4-1) to win the Roundball Classic championship.
Detroit King 57, Olentangy Liberty (OH) 54: Mariah Mitchell had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Danielle Kemp and Deljanae Williams each scored 11 for King (5-2) in the Motor City Roundball Classic.
Temperance Bedford 48, Riverview 21: Madison Norton scored 11 and Linsey Spotts had 10 for Bedford (5-2) to win the Southgate Anderson Holiday Tournament championship. Sam Dorn had nine points for Riverview (3-4).
Westland John Glenn 50, Southgate Anderson 48: Sharon Woodard scored 17 and Carley Loving 15 for John Glenn (3-4). Julia Bogart had 18 points and Alexis Calhoun 10 for Anderson (4-4).
More girls basketball scores
Birmingham Groves 55, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 42
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 48, Port Huron Northern 37
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.