With a massive crowd watching on, the North Adelaide Rockets Men’s Premier League team won an absolute thriller over Southern on Saturday night, in double overtime 107-101, to take them to outright 1st position on the Premiership ladder with a record of 7 wins and 1 loss. Aric Miller led the way in points with 40 and was unstoppable in the two overtime periods with 15 points on his own. But it was an excellent team effort that won the night with every player contributing when their number was called.

Both teams started with “normal” first fives with North’s being Adam, Leroy, Alec, Aric and Darcy, and given the talent available, it was certainly expected to be close the whole way. Darcy had a bright start with 5 early points, before Alex scored, but then Southern had a little 7-0 run to see the boys down 7-14. Darcy again got involved with a nice jump shot, before Aric found his feet with two quick scores, followed by a big 3, and suddenly it was 16-16 with less than two minutes to go. In between all that Coach Hawkes went to his bench with Ray Harding and big John Wernham stepping on to the floor making their presence felt immediately. By the time the buzzer went for the end of the first the score was 19-16 our way, following a free throw and a 2 by Alex on the last play.

The 2nd was a high scoring affair with 49 points scored between the teams (North 24, Southern 25), as shooters from both sides found their range. The lead changed an amazing 10 times as each had a run here and there to wrest back the advantage only to lose it again on the next play or two. In the early stages, Alex tipped in a missed shot, and Aric had a steal and a nice dunk, before Darcy again got involved. The good news was defensively we were managing to hold Southern’s biggest threats to reasonable totals and were doing a great job on the boards (24-18 at half time). By the time the buzzer went for the long break, Alex had already logged a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds (to go with 1 assist, and 4 steals). Aric was also doing a great job keeping the scoreboard ticking (13 points) ably supported by Darcy (also 13 points). The lead was just 2 points, but somehow felt like it could have and probably should have been a few more?? One major concern was Alex had picked up his 3rd foul so some caution needed to be taken.

The 3rd was a replica of the 2nd with both teams showing why they are amongst the top performers in the league with some very exciting basketball played at both ends and scores again remaining close. On the back of some early baskets to Leroy, Darcy, Alex and Aric, the boys did manage to get the lead out to 9 points at one point, but Southern were by no means done and came storming back to narrow it to just 1 point by the three quarter time break. It really was a close and exciting game and the time was just flying by as the crowd remained totally absorbed. On the downside, Alex picked up his 4th foul (a technical), just 3 minutes in, but the boys didn’t let up, being relentless on the boards in particular. By three quarter time we led that category 36-28, with a very credible 15 of them at the offensive end. Also good to see young Nick Marshall get a few minutes in the heat of the battle and acquit himself well. So three quarter time score showed the difference to be just 1 point (63-62) and an exciting last quarter to come (little did we know).

Southern got off to a flyer, in the 4th, with 6 quick unanswered points, before Brad hit a 3 pointer followed by an Alex alley-oop dunk on a great assist from Aric and the scores were again tied (68-68). Southern again had a little run and by the half way point, had edged away to an 8 point advantage (70-78), but to their credit the boys never doubted their ability and went on a 10-2 run of their own to even the scores at 80-80 on the buzzer. The last 3 pointer to tie the game was an absolute gem, with just a couple of seconds left on the clock the ball was in Aric’s hands and despite two players hanging all over him he somehow got a shot off with fractions of a second to spare and hit a MASSIVE 3 to tie the scores!!! Overtime.

The crowd was buzzing, the players were buzzing but Coach Hawkes was calm in his address to the boys reiterating what we had planned before the game, what had got us to this point and what was required to finish this to our advantage. The first overtime was an exhibition of what great shooting is, with both sides hitting some excellent shots. Aric hit two massive 3 pointers and Brad contributed with one of his own, and thankfully Alex despite his 4 fouls was still involved hitting two crucial free throws to again tie the scores (92-92) with seconds remaining.

So the second overtime commenced with Aric again showing the way hitting on a nice 2 pointer then on one of two free throws to enjoy a three point lead. But it didn’t last long with Southern hitting a 3 to again tie the scores. Two free throws to Alex, and a layup to Aric following a great offensive rebound by Ray Harding saw the boys forge a lead of 4 points with less than four minutes on the clock, before Ray Harding again snared an offensive rebound, went to the line and made one of two for a five point lead. Suddenly momentum was completely with us and we made the most of it. Alex snared another 2 following an Adam steal, and after a Southern error went to line again (making one of two), to stretch the lead to 8 (103-95) with just 2 minutes on the clock. Following a block by Alex, Aric made a layup and the lead was 10 and everyone thought the game was over, with 1 minute 43 seconds to go. But two massive 3’s from Southern and again the difference was just four with fifty two seconds still on the clock!! Southern however needed the ball and had to foul. Alex was the beneficiary and he went to the line where he calmly sank both for a 6 point match winning lead and that’s how it finished.

What a game. Everyone was on a high for an hour afterwards as the excitement slowly subsided. One of the best seen at Hillcrest for some time, even allowing for several close results in recent seasons, this was one for the ages. Both teams and the umpires deserve credit for making it the battle it was, and hopefully an indicator of many more to come.

Final statistics showed Aric finished with 40 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals; Alex had 27 points, 18 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals and a blocked shot; Darcy had 16 points, 2 rebounds and a steal; Brad had 12 points, 2 rebounds, an assist and a steal; Leroy had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot; John had 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot; Adam had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 crucial steals; Ray had 3 points, 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 assists and a steal. As a team we outrebounded Southern 54-45.

Double header next week, with West on Saturday at Port Adelaide and Woodville in our Charity Day Round on Sunday at Hillcrest. The season is flying by, if you haven’t seen a game yet, you need to get in quick!!


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