Rockets travelled south to try and take Solent’s very impressive winning streak on their home court where they haven’t lost since January 2018 with a 24 game unbeaten run, coupled to a 19 game unbeaten run in all competitions. Rockets had got close to them at the end of last season with a single point defeat 90-91 and with both teams in great form, a titanic battle was guaranteed.
Rockets were on a 6-0 league winning run and Solent 7-0. Rockets won the tip off and Liam Davis scored their first points quickly answered by Solent’s first score but 9 quick points from Nick Richards and A J Carr saw Rockets enjoy a 13-4 lead. Solent responded with a 14-1 run and it was ‘game on’ . A further brace of trebles from Carr and a crucial block kept Rockets within 2 points of their opposition but a big Solent treble in the last 30 seconds saw the hosts go into the first break with a 28-21 advantage.
Carr again got Rockets firing and with Matias Boho making a 3 point play the scores were quickly level on 28 each. A great delayed pass from Pau Mayor to the fast approaching Richards to score was followed by Carr’s fourth treble of the first half and saw Rockets have a 12-0 run to lead 33-28. Solent came back hard and fast with Elliot Sentance finding it difficult to miss as he hit 19 points before the break giving Solent a smaller lead of 52-47 which would have looked even better for Rockets if he hadn’t struck another buzzer beating treble on the half time hooter. Pau Mayor had stroked a pair of trebles to get Rockets very close but with a 12-5 foul tally against Rockets, the third period was going to be crucial.
Again Rockets scored first after Richards had sent a superb assist to Ben Dixon to stroke a treble, a very tough charge call in Rockets favour was given as a technical foul on Dixon…hard to take in the light of the first half foul count. Rockets re-ignited and David Chive scored both penalty shots having been fouled as he drove to score and then when all Rockets fans screamed for an 8 second back court violation by Solent , the ball went to Solent’s Sentance who hit another treble to compound the irony for Rockets. Soon Rockets found themselves 54-69 down but Boho, Richards and Ed Potter ( twice ) got Rockets to within six points before another buzzer beating treble brought the score to 74 -65 in Solent’s favour.
A Davis inside score, a Dixon finish and a brilliant Davis tip in drew the scores closer before some great floor hustle from Mayor lifted Rockets and Carr scored again. However four trebles in just over a minute by Solent took the game away from Rockets as Solent enjoyed a 15 point lead again at 94-79. A brace of Rockets trebles from Mayor and Carr brought hope but these were matched with the same from the league leaders who hit six trebles in this quarter alone and 14 in the game to take the win 104-91. Sentance had had a truly remarkable game with 40 points including 7 from 9 trebles, a 77% shooting rate but Rockets had given Solent their toughest test of the season to date.
Top scorers were A J Carr with a double double of 28 points and 12 rebounds; Pau Mayor with 13 points including three trebles; Nick Richards with 12 points and 4 steals; Liam Davis with 12 points and 7 rebounds and Ben Dixon with 11 points and 4 assists.
Rockets now travel to Essex on Saturday evening for the first part of a double header weekend before going north to Nottingham Hoods for a National Cup 4th round game.