|Loughborough Student Riders||86||Loss|
After a great performance in an upbeat game against second in the table L’boro on Saturday, Rockets trailed an Essex Leopards team for most of Sundays last league game of 2018.
On Saturday, Rockets were the first of the three chasing teams in the top half of the table to take a victory from one of the top three who each lost on Saturday night, including the first loss for Solent showing this a most competitive of leagues this season.
American guard Trae Pemberton ignited Rockets with a brace of trebles and captain Danny Carter hit a pair from the penalty stripe as Rockets began with an 8-0 run. Adrian O’Sullivan stroked a treble and A J Carr imposed himself as Rockets had a 5 point advantage at the first break at 24-19 against L’boro.
Carter worked tirelessly inside scores 13 pts and Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane saw 5 other players total another 20 pts as Rockets enjoyed a double digit lead of 57-46 at the interval. A fine 14-0 run from 28-25 to 42-25 midway through quarter eased Rockets further ahead before L’boro hit three trebles and had a 3 point play to cut the deficit before Carr sent an arrow pass to Carter and 16 yo Sam Grant stroked his first treble. Rockets took their first time out at 51-40 and Sydney Donaldson hit what seemed an impossible shot wide out and on the buzzer as he was falling backwards giving Rockets a 57-46 at interval lead as Carter, Pemberton and Carr had personal tallies of 15,14 and 13 respectively.
A powerful third period saw Rockets take it 25-18 and see them with an 82-64 advantage as the three guys causing L’boro most trouble continued imposing themselves and O’Sullivan ( injured last weekend and trained little this week ) drove to score, hit one from two from the line, sent an assist to Pemberton form off the floor and stroked a treble as he got more into the game.
Young Grant was clearly enjoying extended court time and took down a key defensive rebound after L’boro tried three times to score. Recognising Rockets had another big game on Sunday Keane was not only rotating his five experienced players with his Academy youngsters but with such a comfortable lead against the team that were second in the league at tip, with a 21 point lead, all the Academy players played together for the last 3-4 minutes as Rockets secured a key victory at 101-86.
Tops corers for Rockets were Pemberton with 25pts and 6 rebounds, Carter 23 pts., and 7 rebounds and 5 assists with Carr hitting 20 pts., and having 8 rebounds. Two other players hit double figures as O’Sullivan hit 12 and Grant 10 pts.
Then on Sunday the first 2 quarters scores were close to Saturdays except Rockets were on the receiving end as they found themselves 18-25 and 45-56 adrift. The intensity and energy that had permiated Rockets on Saturday was not apparent as Leopards kept a fast pace and clinical finishing. Rockets sole lead was at 39-37 during a purple patch in the second period as A J Carr stroked 3 trebles and Trae Pemberton also scored to draw the scores level on 36 before 16 yo David Chive scored with a treble. But that’s as good as it got before the break as Rockets trailed 45-56 .
At the start of the third period there was encouragement to Rockets supporters as Sydney Donaldson and Carr stroked trebles with Pemberton scoring with a floater in an 8-0 run and within a single score of Leopards at 53-56. Rockets got even closer when they tied the game on 67, 69 and 71 but a huge treble on the buzzer from just inside Rockets half brought delight to Leopards as they still held a lead though now just 74-71.
The euphoria of the third quarter effort slipped to disappointment for Rockets supporters as Leopards kept coming at them, and again hitting three trebles in the final period sapping the energy and effort of the Rockets though captain Danny Carter did his level best as he hit eleven points in the quarter but Leopards took another victory over Rockets by 101-90.
Top scorers for Rockets were Pemberton with 25, Carr with 22, Carter with 15 and Donaldson with 11.
Rockets now have a near 3 week break till 5th Jan when they travel north to Manchester to take on Magic.