North Adelaide: 95 | Forestville Eagles: 82
The wintry weather outside did not stop the North Adelaide Rockets and Forestville Eagles from heating up the Wayville Sports Centre in the first leg of the last double header weekend.
Between the two clubs, the Rockets and Eagles totalled 54-points at the end of the first quarter leaving scores tied setting a potential exhilarating contest. The high scoring opening quarter entailed not only physicality but also some dazzling manoeuvres which allowed the eventual trading of baskets and leads throughout. These included an unsuccessful Antonio Garrett and 1 as well as a pretty assist from North Adelaide’s Ray Harding.
Harding’s dish was one of his highlight plays from the fixture as he continued to develop his game on both ends of the floor. Harding finished the night with a game high 23-points (57% FG), 4-rebounds, 4-assists, 4-steals and 2-blocks. One of his 2 blocks demonstrated excellent defensive hustle after turning the ball over.
Although it was not the Raymond Harding show, as there were four other Rockets scoring double digits covering the absence of co-captain Alexander Starling (REST).
The Eagles began the second quarter with two baskets attaining a small lead and continued to keep their visitors scoreless until just under 6:30 remaining. The Rockets missed their opening six attempts and were fortunate the Eagles could not capitalise.
Leading up to the long break, the game margin was no more than 6-points and the Eagles kept the contest tight at the break being down one basket with scores set at 43-45. After what appeared to be an Isolation play by Miller, he dished the ball to Adam Schild who earnt and converted two free throws with 2 seconds on the clock.
Coming out of the big break, both sides again began to trade baskets back and forth giving tying the contest and a slight Rocket lead. Despite this sequence, North Adelaide turned up the heat and built on their small lead of 4 to 13 by three quarter time. North Adelaide outscored their hosts in back-to-back quarters 16-18 and 16-27 (2nd and 3rd). The Rocket like effort from North Adelaide demonstrated their ability to score without Starling on the floor who averages 24-points per game alone.
Heading into the final quarter, the Eagles looked to stage a comeback victory as they were trailing by a small 13-points.
Forestville’s Jake Rios opened the quarter with a basket from the beyond the arc although North Adelaide’s sharpshooter Brad Jonnek replied with his own. Rios totalled 15-points and 2 rebounds which were both below his season averages, although, he dished 6 assists just over 2.5 more than his average.
Despite some poor in game situations, Jonnek flirted with a double-double attaining 17-points and 8 rebounds. Jonnek’s quick hands shooting corresponded defensively by acquiring 2-steals and widening his box score.
The Rockets kept on the accelerator throughout the final term not letting their lead dip below 8-points throughout. Jake Rios continued with his good game finishing an and 1 play cutting the margin to 12 at one stage although it was not enough for the evening. The offensive threat that is Majok Deng appeared to be under control by the Rockets. Deng had what appeared to be a quiet game by his standards recording 18-points and 9-rebounds compared to his season average of 27 and 12.
The superior gameplay by North Adelaide gave them the eventual road victory over the then 5th placed Eagles by 13-points. The win moved the Rockets’ record to 12 and 3 for the season compared to Forestville’s 8 and 7 heading into the final few regular season fixtures.