North Adelaide: 93 | Sturt: 86
With the Premier League season heating up, the battles for the supremacy appear and tensions can fly. This occurred when North Adelaide hosted Sturt in a top of the table clash. Both the Rockets and Sabres were tying on points and only a 2% differential separated them.
A beautiful no look pass by Samuel Daly (4-points and 11 assists) to Jacob Rigoni opened all scores and set the tone for the upcoming contest. Rigoni scored back-to-back baskets to start the night and went on to contribute a great 27-points and 9 rebounds. With the top two teams competing, competitiveness was expected and demonstrated. With only a few points between them throughout the quarter and some lead changes, the Sabres sunk some baskets before quarter time to finish the term up 7. Despite being up 7, the Rockets had momentum coming into the 2nd quarter after Darcy Aistrope had the opportunity for a 4-point play on the buzzer.
Veteran Luke Mapunda showed some good signs of his game early in the 2nd term by scoring the opening basket and soon after dishing an assist to teammate John Wernham. The Sabres continued to try and push their lead out slowly although their largest lead was only 8. The hosts had their own plans and continued to fight back. At the half, the scores were tied at 45 and was not short of emotion.
During the second quarter, words between sides were exchanged and set the tempo for the second half. Soon after the exchange of words, Alexander Starling (27-points, 15 rebounds and 7 steals) received a technical for his troubles following a big dunk.
North Adelaide had control on the scoreboard in the opening four minutes of the third term as they outscored their opponents 16-4 including some big plays by Aric Miller (21-points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists). After their first basket of the quarter, the Sabres recorded 3 consecutive turnovers leaving them on the poor end of a 9-point buffer zone.
In what was a breakout quarter for the Rockets, they pushed their lead out to as much as 12 although had it cut back to 9 by 3 quarter time.
Sturt were only down but not out of the contest heading into the final term, with emotions still potentially high the crowd was in for a great finish. Ray Harding provided some offensive hustle throughout the final term showing signs of his determination to win. After finishing through contact, Adam Schild (3-points and 11 rebounds) couldn’t convert his free throw, although, North Adelaide still led by double digits. With the final siren looming, the Sabres made a late push for a comeback victory cutting the margin to as little as 3. Despite this, the Rockets held on for the 7-point victory.
The win over the Sabres allows the Rockets to gain the top spot 2-points clear of the trailing Southern Tigers and Sturt Sabres.