Rocket Boys Finish Minor Round in Top Spot


The North Adelaide Men’s Premier League team confirmed their spot at the top of the Premiership table on Saturday night, with a solid 19 point win (92-73) over a determined West team, on the back of a fantastic first quarter in particular, restricting their opponents to just 11 points, while scoring 29 themselves.

There was some immediate good news for the Boys during pre-game preparations, with Alex Starling being declared fit and he was joined by Adam, Brad, Aric and Raymond in the first five. The game started at an electric pace with two quick baskets to Alex, showing no ill effects from his recent injury, and then Ray came off an on-ball screen for a big two handed dunk and everyone in the stadium was up and about!! But nothing could have prepared spectators for the next few minutes when Brad made a layup off an Alex steal, Aric scored and then another dunk by Alex off a Raymond Harding wrap around assist and it was 12-2. Time out West with just three minutes gone. Within ten seconds of the restart, Adam stole the ball, Alex threw a long pass and Aric had another massive one handed dunk!!! A poor pass and turnover then saw West hit a 3 pointer before Ray got involved again, with a tip in off a miss, before a Brad steal, saw Ray hit a long 3 from the corner, 19-5, with five minutes still to go. West then had two free throws, scored on the first, but missed the second, which Adam rebounded and the ball ended up in Alex’s hands who calmly sank a 3 from the top of the key, and it was 22-6.  West scored again, but unbelievably Alex had another dunk, (the 4th for us in as many minutes) again on a nice assist from Ray, and it was 24-8. Coach Hawkes then made a few subs, but no momentum was lost with Darcy, John and Leroy all getting involved. Quarter time score was 29-11 and every single spectator was buzzing with what they had just seen. Alex had 11 points and Ray Harding 9, but it was more about the way the points were scored as the Boys dominated both ends of the floor.


With such a massive start it was always going to be difficult to maintain the momentum, but the Boys did keep the scoreboard ticking, with Brad answering an early basket from West, then Darcy and Alex scoring in between a West 3 pointer to make the score 36-16 with three minutes gone. The lead did hover around the 20 mark for the remainder of the quarter, with Aric and Brad hitting big 3’s, and Darcy and Adam getting involved when the opportunity presented. Also worthy of note was the defensive job the Boys were doing, they pressured every West pass, denied their scorers any opportunity to get going and generally harassed them every time they caught the ball. Ray Harding was doing an excellent job on Oldham, a known scorer who had just 8 points by the half, Leroy, Adam, Alex and John were controlling West’s “bigs” and Aric, Darcy and Brad were making sure their shooters got no easy opportunities. By the time the siren went for the long break it was 55-32, by no means a match winning lead, and we were well aware of the talents West have and their determination to get themselves back in the game.


To their credit West did have a good 3rd quarter, but it was partially due (despite all warnings), to the Boys taking their foot off the pedal a little. The three quarter time margin was down to just 12, close enough to give West a sniff at 71-59. The quarter started with West (that’s Jordan West the player not West the team) hitting two big 3’s from the top of the key off two consecutive offences, which gave them some momentum, and just a glimmer of hope. Alex responded with a 2 pointer of his own, but Oldham shot two free throws, which despite only getting the margin to 18, just seemed to swing the pendulum away from the Boys and things appeared to be going West’s way. The fouls were starting to rack up and both teams were in the bonus early, which sort of worked in West’s favour as it slowed the game down, preventing the Boys from running as hard as they did in the first half. Having said that the margin was still 18 at the five minute mark. Basket for basket saw this status quo until with just over two minutes to go West had a run of 6 points and before we knew it the margin was 12 and they were a lot more confident about themselves. The statistics for the quarter confirmed the lost momentum, we shot just 4 of 16 for the quarter (25%), had just 6 rebounds and 1 assist, being outscored 16-27.


So the last was set for a decent finish, with a requirement to “dig in” and get the job done. The momentum continued to be with West early and they scored the first 4 points, making the margin just 8, before Darcy scored twice with nice mid-range jumpshots to make it 12 the difference again. West came again, scoring the next 4, margin again 8, up steps Darcy, this time with a nice driving layup, margin 10 again with just five minutes to go. Unbelievably Darcy scored our first 12 points in the last, getting himself to the basket or the line, or taking nice jump shots and he became the “go-to” man as we battled out for the win. In all he scored 17 points in the last!! He also created an opportunity for Alex to finish his night with a big dunk, harassing a ball carrier, diving on a loose ball and flicking a pass for Alex to complete the spectacular play. The lead built back to 16 with a few minutes to go and both Coaches decided to call it a day with the final margin being 19 (92-73).


Final stats saw Alex finish with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals; Darcy had 23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal; Aric had 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal; Brad had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals; Ray had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot; Adam had 2 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots; John had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and a steal; Leroy had 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot.


An excellent night, plenty of highlights, with every player playing a part, an opportunity to grind some of the game out and in general a finals atmosphere with the big crowd involved, which hopefully augurs well for the next few weeks. No game next Saturday, with the top team getting a first round finals bye, so next game will be at Hillcrest Saturday the 5th of August. But don’t forget the Ladies will be playing Saturday the 29th in Mount Barker, squaring up against Eastern for the right to play in the semi-final against Southern.


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