New Haven sophomore – Basketball
Weems, considered by many the top sophomore in Michigan, played a starring role as New Haven won its first MHSAA boys basketball championship Saturday, earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” as the Rockets downed Benton Harbor 78-49 in the Semifinal and Ludington 45-36 in the Class B title game.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward averaged 17.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and just under four assists, blocks and steals per game this winter in being named the Class B “Player of the Year” by The Associated Press. He had 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the Semifinal win, and 19 points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals in the Final as New Haven scored its fewest points this season but shined defensively.
The Rockets finished 27-1 thanks not just to Weems, but also star senior Eric Williams, Jr., and a strong supporting cast. Last week’s Semifinal also was the first in program history, but Weems has plans to add to the legacy over the next two seasons before likely having his choice of major college programs for which to continue his career. He's also a standout football player, quarterbacking New Haven to a share of the Macomb Area Conference Bronze title in the fall.
Coach Tedaro France II said: “Because he’s unselfish, that’s why we’re the Class B state champions. He gets his teammates involved. He can play the one through five; he does so much for us. He makes each person around him better. He can pass, he can defend, and one thing about him is he can score, but he takes pride in playing defense.”
Performance Point: “We went to our man-to-man press trapping, and they called a timeout because they didn’t know what to do,” Weems said. “I got long, started giving everything I had left. Got scrappy, started rebounding more, got more aggressive. ... I think we just had to step up big, get our teammates ready to play, get people’s nerves out get everybody going. We had to play big."
Getting defensive: “I hate to lose. The object of the game is to score more points to win. If I stop them from scoring, I win. I don’t like people scoring. It’s my paint, so I try to get every blocked shot, every rebound, play my heart out.”
Williams showed the way: “Just teaching the little things. Like on the court, if I miss a free throw, he lets me know if it looked good or if I need to get it up higher. Stay low when I’m jumping, a lot of stuff like that.”
All together: “I like to get my teammates involved. One person can’t win all by himself. I can be off, and I need my teammates to be on, and they get me going. So I get them involved, I get involved, and me and E, it’s hard to stop us when we're on fire.”
Thanks, Coach: “Coach loves us. It’s more than basketball with him, really. Even if we’re just outside playing or something, he’ll come hang out with us. He’s a great guy. If we need something he’s there… . We needed tutors, he got us tutors this year. It’s more than basketball for Coach.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
March 23: Jaycie Burger and Maddie Clark, Pittsford basketball – Read
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving – Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling – Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball – Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball – Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball – Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Pittsford's Maddie Clark works for an opening near the basket during Saturday's Class D Final against Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary. (Middle) Teammate Jaycie Burger makes a move toward the basket.