HUNTINGTON – The New Haven boys basketball team isn’t just about V.J. Beachem, though the senior Notre Dame recruit is plenty good.
This team is multifaceted, from the ballhandling of 5-foot-7 Monte Stevenson, to the three-point shooting of Jabar Ray, to the too-big-to-contain 6-11 Steve McElvene.
All of it was on display Friday night at Huntington North, where the Bulldogs defeated the Wayne Generals 81-62 in a Class 4A sectional semifinal game. New Haven will play Homestead, which defeated Jay County 48-45 in the other semifinal, in the sectional championship game at 7:30 p.m. today.
One of our biggest strengths is our depth, said Beachem, who had 23 points. A lot of people just focus on me, but we really have a good team, offensively and defensively, and we’re going to need everybody to step up throughout the entire tournament.
When we do defend and rebound the way we’re capable of, I really don’t think anybody can beat us.
The Bulldogs (16-5) also got 23 points from Ray, a senior, who went five for eight from three-point range.
The Generals (13-9) were up five points early in the second quarter, before a 39-16 run by the Bulldogs was capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Ray to put the game out of reach.
Mainly, we had to stop them on defense because Justin Mitchell is a really good player, Ray said. And when it came to shooting, we had to do what we had to do.
Mitchell, a junior, had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Generals.
But he couldn’t do anything about McElvane, a junior, who commanded the paint with 10 points, 12 rebounds and four shot blocks.
At halftime, my coaches told me to be sure and rebound and block shots, McElvene said.
That’s what I had to do to help the team. Every day, my coaches tell me to box out and rebound, and I guess I’ve got to keep this up for us to finish out (the tournament).
The Bulldogs’ shooting improved from 46.9 percent in the first half to 56.5 in the second, while the Generals’ plummeted from 41.4 percent to 27.5 percent as they failed to control the inside game or the playmaking of Stevenson, a senior, who had 14 points and four assists.
Junior Jordan Hogue added nine points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs.
Wayne senior Marlon Fincher had 13 points. Senior Darrius Ellison and junior Jescus Mitchell had eight apiece for Wayne, which outscored New Haven 20-2 from the bench.
The Generals opened the early 22-17 lead, after back-to-back baskets from Justin Mitchell, on a baseline drive and then a fallaway jumper.
But the Bulldogs’ run started with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter when Hogue stole the ball and went end-to-end.
The Bulldogs made 18 of 22 free-throw attempts, but the Generals were 8 of 13.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Generals 42-34.