In Play with Tom Markowski


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Tall New Haven team looks good coming out of the locker room and on the court, too

By: Tom Markowski, January 25, 2015, 5:24 pm

New Haven – There’s no question that this is the tallest team New Haven has had. What is still to be determined is if this is the best it’s had to offer.

Tedaro France II, a New Haven alum, is in his seventh season as head coach at New Haven and there are times when he’ll start no player under 6-foot-4. That 6-4 player is D’Monta Harris, a senior who averages 23.3 points and 14 rebounds. Harris, a transfer from Waterford Mott, is being recruited by a handful of Division II schools.

 “He wants to learn,” France said. “He wants to get better. He’s starting to excel. Teams focus on our bigs so he’s able to get to the glass.”

New Haven’s tallest player is 6-11 junior Innocent Nwoko. Nwoko was born in Nigeria and his first sport was soccer. Nwoko scored 37 goals this past fall but his main sport now is basketball. Nwoko committed to Central Michigan. He’s averaging 8.8 points and five blocks.

Next there’s 6-9 junior Jerry Ben. He averages 10.3 points.

New Haven’s most versatile player is 6-6 senior Austin Sherrell. He averages 15 points and six assists, and is an exceptional ball handler.

Rounding out this group is 6-6 senior Josh Harris (no relation), New Haven’s most athletic player. Harris is the defending Division 3 110-meter high hurdle (14.96) champion and Grand Valley State is recruiting him for both track and basketball.

 France said Ben is more “skilled” than Nwoko whom France said is still “raw”.

Naturally teams in the Macomb Area Conference have difficulty matching up with the Rockets. New Haven is 10-0, 5-0 in the MAC Gold Division, and ranked No. 8 in Class B.

The Rockets are averaging 69 points but France said what makes this team so good is their play on the defensive end. New Haven is giving up just 45.1 points.

“We play 10 kids,” France said. “And each has taken at least one charge. With our bigs, you’d think we’d sit back in a zone. But we pressure teams. We wear down teams with our speed and athleticism.”

The book is still out on whether this will be New Haven’s best. In 2012 New Haven reached the Class C quarterfinals before losing to Shelby.



Rivalry nearing an end?


Saginaw Arthur Hill (9-2) will host Saginaw (8-3) on Tuesday and it’s likely the last time these teams will play at Arthur Hill.

The schools came close to merging last year. It’s almost certain the school district will consolidate its two high schools into one after this school year ends.

“It could be,” Arthur Hill coach Greg McMath said. “It’s really sad. The rivalries in the Saginaw Valley…This is my 13th year and we’ve lost Flint Central and Flint Northern (both schools closed). Then you have all the Detroit (schools that closed). When I grew up with had eight kids in our family and there were five (children) next door. You don’t find that today. Couples have two or three kids at the most.”

Arthur Hill is led by Mr. Basketball candidate Eric Davis and sophomore Brian Bowen, a likely Mr. Basketball candidate in 2017.

Two juniors have also played well and they are Billy Burton and Nate Moore. Burton is averaging 13 points and Moore is a terrific on-ball defender.



Oak Park shakeup


After playing last Tuesday despite losing 69-63 in overtime to Clarkston, Oak Park seems to be a program that’s taken a hit.

In last Friday’s 50-48 victory over Troy in an Oakland Activities Association White Division game, coach Bryant Tipton was not on the bench nor was he seen in the Oak Park gymnasium. There was a State Champs reporter there, however. Scott Burnstein said two of Oak Park’s juniors (Kelvon Fuller and Devin Mills) were also not in uniform.

Athletic director and varsity football coach Greg Carter was the acting head coach and was aided by three others including Bobby Thompson whose son, Bobby Thompson, Jr., is a member on the Oak Park varsity team.

 According to Burnstein Carter would not comment on the situation on Friday. Carter and Tipton did not return text messages left on Saturday by this reporter.

Fuller and Tipton came to Oak Park last season from Detroit Cody. Tipton was Cody’s varsity head coach and Fuller started as a freshman during the 2012-13 season. Fuller was ineligible the first semester last season because of the transfer rule.

Mills is a transfer from Ferndale.

Fuller is a 6-6 forward and is one of the top players in the class of 2016.