New Haven and Detroit Henry Ford had seen this drama play out last year.
Last season in a Class B quarterfinal at Marysville, the Trojans handed New Haven its only loss of the season. Tuesday night, the venue was St. Clair Shores Lake Shore — with a trip to the Breslin Center once again at stake.
Ford again needed to deal with New Haven’s Innocent Nwoko, a 6-foot-11 senior, and 6-9 Jerry Ben. New to the mix was future star Romeo Weems (15 points), a 6-6 freshman swingman.
Against such height, Ford simply made it a track meet — and had the sprinters to do it in 6-foot guards James Towns, Jeremy Crawley and Devontaye Webb — and advanced to its second straight semifinal with a 62-40 victory. The Trojans will play Williamston on Friday at 6 p.m.
Nobody had a chance to get hot initially because the fire alarm came on, causing a delay with New Haven (22-3) leading, 4-2.
Once play resumed, the Trojans went to work. Sophomore Deanta Ulmer had the green light off the bench and he responded with four triples.
“He’s young, but I think he’s one of the best shooters in the state,” said Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers.
Senior Kavon Bey battled New Haven’s giants and scored 13 points.
“The media and a lot of people don’t know about him, but he went against the 7-footers and did a great job,” said Towns, a senior who scored 14 points and is making his second trip back to the Breslin. “This means a lot for the school and the program.”
Crawley added 10 points for the Trojans, who improved to 18-6.
“We’re making history,” said Flowers. “We made it to our first championship game last year and we’re going to the semifinals for the second straight year for the first time. We knew what we were going to get from James, but Ulmer and Bey were the icing on the cake.”
Despite Alston Hunter retreating to the bench with two fouls, the Trojans managed a 15-12 lead at the end of one with Towns leading the way with seven points.
Hunter returned to hit a triple to give the Trojans a 20-12 lead before going back to the bench with his third foul.
The Trojan guards continued to push the ball, and a 9-3 spurt culminating in a lay-up by Crawley gave Ford a 29-15 lead.
New Haven scored just five points in the second quarter and fell behind, 32-17.
Coach Tedaro France II extended his defense in the second half in an attempt to force Ford into turnovers. It worked to a degree as the smaller Ford guards were trapped near half-court on a few occasions.
“We started out slow,” said France. “We couldn’t make any shots in the first half. They’re a great team with good guards. I’m proud of our three seniors. They kept fighting.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.