Dynamic duo fires for Rockets in Power encounter
JARED Blanchard and Leon Christensen fired on the floor in the Rockhampton Rockets’ 16-point win over Gladstone Port City Power on Saturday night.
Blanchard was in blistering form, finishing with 27 points and 20 rebounds, while Christensen scored 24 points, which included several three-pointers at crucial times in the ConocoPhillips CQ Cup clash at Kev Broome Stadium.
The Rockhampton Cyclones were also too good for Gladstone, running out 95-51 winners, with Briana Bailey finishing with a game-high 26 points.
The Rockets and Cyclones have both won two of their three games in the intercity competition, which also includes Mackay and Bundaberg.
Rockets’ stand-in head coach Darren Richardson said it was an important win.
“It was a tough game,” he said.
“Gladstone’s a very hard court to win on, they’re very proud of their home floor so we were very happy to get the win there.
“That certainly keeps our hopes alive for home court finals as it stands.
“The boys were very aware that we couldn’t afford to drop that one or really any game because it is a short, quick-hit season so every game counts a lot.”
The Rockets were down 26-20 at quarter time, prompting Richardson to change from man-to-man to zone defence.
That had the desired effect, with the Rockets outscoring Gladstone 23-10 in the second quarter to take a seven-point lead into the main break.
They were never headed in the second half, the final scoreline 85-69.
“We were pleased with the victory but, from a coaching perspective, there’s a couple of areas we need to improve on.
“Certainly, defensively in our man to man, we gave away too many cheap fouls in the first quarter and that made us have to change our strategy.
“But we went from being down to being up at half-time so that was pretty pleasing.
“We had solid contributors right across the board, but Leon Christensen and Jared Blanchard were our two standout performers.”
The Cyclones and Rockets are up against Gladstone again this Saturday, with games at 6pm and 8pm at Adani Arena.
ConocoPhillips CQ Cup Round 3 results
Men: Mackay Meteors 74 d Bundaberg Bulls 64, Rockhampton Rockets 85 d Gladstone Port City Power 69, Mackay Meteors 80 d Gladstone Port City Power 66
Women: Mackay Meteorettes 72 d Bundaberg Bears 50, Rockhampton Cyclones 95 d Gladstone Port City Power 51, Mackay Meteorettes 90 d Gladstone Port City Power 62