In the highest scoring yet competitive game that Rockets has ever been involved with, despite a most valiant effort to take two league victories over Hemel, Rockets came up a little short in a cliff hanger In Hemel on Sunday evening.
Despite Storm stroking a treble from their outstanding guard TrayVonn Wright, with their second possession after A J Carr had blocked the first one, captain Danny Carter scored with a hook, Sydney Donaldson scored and made another block disrupting the smooth shooting of Storm’s guards. Rockets enjoyed a 15 point lead at 27-12 before the Storm raged to get back into contention as the first period ended 29-22 to Rockets. Carr had stroked 3 trebles and teenager David Chive a brace.
A treble from Adrian O’Sullivan and a pair of free throws from Carter enabled Rockets to keep a double digit lead before Strom had 6 unanswered points. A Carr treble and a 3 point play from Donaldson saw Rockets 40-30 ahead early in the second quarter before a barrage of Hemel trebles brought the scores level on 48 each in an excellent game for the sport and for both sets of supporters though one official was maybe a little zealous as he handed Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo his second unsportsmanlike foul so he had to leave the arena. This was a major blow for Rockets as 19 yo Emeka-Anyakwo had his best Rockets game just 6 days before. This seemed to disrupt Rockets concentration as they made a number of turn-overs giving Storm the advantage at the interval 56-53. Storm had scored 13 points from turnovers compared to Rockets nil….surely a subject for the changing room for Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane.
Hemel scored first after the break but Rockets six senior players soon brought the scores level on 58 and 60. However some clinical shooting from Storm edged them ahead again despite Trae Pemberton now being less shackled than he had been in the first half, making meaningful scores, assists and rebounds. Tanner Kuehn hit a treble to cut Rockets deficit to 72-78 before Storm lost a player too, Will Ashby with a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls whilst they held a 9 point lead. O’Sullivan was secure from the line, Carr spun to score and Pemberton scored with a floater to get within 3 points of Storm before they made the last score to stay 85-80 ahead at the end of the third period.
Carr made a slam in between a brace of ‘and 1’s’ for Storm who found themselves 92-82 up within 90 seconds of the re-start. This final quarter saw 8 trebles drained by the teams together with 3 other 3 point plays as the final shootout was raising the roof on the Hemel Leisure Centre . Despite being 13 points adrift with 2 mins 26 remaining, Rockets powered up again, as O’Sullivan and Pemberton stroked trebles to see Rockets at 111-115 with a 8-0 run with 24.8 secs left. Rockets were needing to foul to regain possession but Storm were absolute from the free throw line with 31 from 36 compared to Rockets just 11 from 15.
Pemberton hit 3 from 3 from the penalty stripe as Rockets went within 3 points with 17 secs on the clock. Again Storm hit both free throws but O’sullivan scored to keep the contest very much alive with 8.1 secs to go and Rockets within a score of tying the game. Storm kept their nerves and hit the final 2 free throws to get the win at 121-116.
This was very much a team performance with each player making major contributions though the top scorers were Trae Pemberton and Adrian O’Sullivan with 21 pts., apiece , A J Carr with 20 pts., with Danny Carter and Sydney Donaldson having 17 pts., each though Donaldson was also attributed with a double double having taken down 10 rebounds too. 17 yo David Chive again scored double figures with 11 pts and Tanner Kuehn hitting 9 pts.