In a very low scoring game in which Rockets rarely got into their stride and the visitors stroked key scores, Rockets had a chance to pinch the win as they got to a single point deficit with 29.6 secs remaining but Newcastle hit three from four free throws from the penalty stripe to take the spoils.
It had all looked fine as Rockets blitzed into a 6-0 lead with Tim Gill scoring inside and Joel Keeble scoring from wide out but a 23-9 run by Newcastle, including four trebles woke the guys who appeared a little complacent initially but then knew this was going to be a battle. From 23-15 down Newcastle extended their advantage to double figures early in the second quarter and built on that as the period progressed, looking more comfortable as they stopped the ball reaching yesterday’s top scorer and danger man Tim Gill. With Rockets only scoring ten points in the paint before the interval spoke volumes to the surprised supporters. Newcastle had a big lead of fourteen points mid-way through the quarter but a brace of back to back trebles by Keeble and Sydney Donaldson followed up by a great buzzer beating tip in by the influential Ed Potter saw Rockets close the gap to just 27 -34 at the break.
Another good crowd was waiting with baited breath hoping to see Rockets capitalise on their 8-1 run but with Jonny Foulds being called for his fourth foul within 40 seconds of the re-start, hopes diminished to some extent as Jonny is a brave player and Rockets needed to see this characteristic on court. Up stepped Ed Potter who had his best Rockets game since he moved up from Rockets Div. 4 side in Oct as he fought for every ball as if his life depended on it, took down rebounds like the leagues’ leading rebounder Tim Gill ( whom he matched ) and showed a determined attitude and determination to try and get the victory. However Newcastle scored at the right moments as Rockets missed easy shots and lay-ups and found themselves ten points adrift again. American combo guard Scotty Hendricks upped his game with a brace of trebles including one on the buzzer to leave the game tantalisingly poised at 45-39 in Newcastle’s favour as the final period began.
Despite a Donaldson score Newcastle opened up another double digit lead . Good assists from Donaldson to Potter clawed Rockets back into the game and then Hendricks drained another treble to see Rockets close to four down and apparently in the ascendency. When Declan Soukup gave Potter a score and Potter hit the penalty stroke the difference was just one at 56-57. Then Donaldson drew the teams level before Newcastle edged ahead with yet another crucial treble. Back came Rockets as Soukup scored from beyond the arc and levelled it at 60 each with less than two minutes remaining. Newcastle missed a pair of free throws and Rockets fans hoped the pressure was getting to the visitors but they kept possession as they outrebounded Rockets to two possessions. Then with the 24 second clock about to be extinguished a Newcastle shot dribbled round the ring and fell into the basket giving them a couple of points lead with 29.6 secs left. Gill stroked a brilliant treble for the corner and Rivermead was a hive of noise as another single score would give Rockets the win. However Rockets couldn’t gain possession and Newcastle went to the free throw line for two successful shots and the win leaving Rockets and their supporters disappointed though recognising that their team had nearly pulled off victory.
Top scorers for Rockets were Ed Potter with 15 pts., and 8 rebounds; Scotty Hendricks with 12 pts., 6 rebounds and three assists and Tim Gill with 10 pts., and 8 rebounds. Declan Soukup had seven rebounds and 8 assists .