Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces headed into this game with mixed emotions….the return of the influential big man, Danny Carter after 11 weeks but the departure ( to complete his studies ) of Joel Keeble but Garces had a full squad for the first time for nearly 3 months.
Sydney Donaldson scored off the glass to open the scoring for Rockets, Jonny Foulds took a charge and then a dish to Scotty Hendricks to drain the first of his brace of trebles in the first quarter. Declan Soukup went coast to coast and Ed Potter tipped in his own rebounded shot. When Hendricks scored his second treble and Danny Carter his first points for months, Rockets enjoyed a short lived 16-11 advantage. But Solent are not just league leaders without reason and fought tenaciously hitting a pair of threes to bring the game level at the break on 22 each.
The tightest of defences ruled the second period as both leaked very little and both teams only scored 10 points leaving the teams again level at the interval on just 32 points each. Hendricks hit his third treble and Solent hit one, Soukup sent an assist to Tim Gill, then made a steal before he took a charge and Carter showed the way inside as he took down an offensive rebound to score. Rockets missed a pair of easy lay-ups when the players were unopposed but still battled on against the title favourites and went to the locker room level on 32 points and all to play for.
A 5-0 opening run by Solent was replied to by Donaldson and Foulds before a typical Soukup pull up score ensured this quarter was to be like the earlier ones, tight defences and no easy points. Hendricks hit his fourth treble and Carter scored inside on two consecutive occasions before Donaldson floor hustle showed everyone, we want this game. Soukup hit a pair of free throws to level the scores again at 48 but a wasted possession with just 5.6 secs of the quarter remaining allowed Solent to edge ahead by 52-49 as the final period beckoned.
Carter took down a defensive rebound to stop Solent and Donaldson spun to score leaving the game tantalisingly close at the start of the quarter. Two three point efforts rimmed out for Rockets and Solent punished them with six quick unanswered points to lead 60-53 with 3.28 to go. Despite Soukup scoring with a pull up treble, Rockets had to foul to try and get possession but Solent stroked 8 from 10 penalty shots in the last 90 seconds to take the win.
This was a much improved defensive performance by Rockets but 15% three point shooting and just 26% field goal stats shows where Rockets need to concentrate before they play Worthing away in 2 weeks’ time.
Top scorers for Rockets were Danny Carter with 13 pts and 8 rebounds; Scotty Hendricks with 12 pts and 4 steals and Sydney Donaldson with 12 pts., 5 rebounds and 5 steals.
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