POWER PLAY: Ray Willis scored 18 points and finished with 14 rebounds in a dominant performance for the Rockets in their win over Mackay on Friday night.
POWER PLAY: Ray Willis scored 18 points and finished with 14 rebounds in a dominant performance for the Rockets in their win over Mackay on Friday night. Chris Ison ROK190518crockets2

Rockets dig way out of 'big hole' to topple QBL leaders

BASKETBALL: The Rockhampton Rockets have stormed back from an early 15-point deficit to beat competition leaders Mackay in a QBL thriller at Hegvold Stadium.

By contrast, the Rockhampton Cyclones led from start to finish to register a 15-point win over the Mackay Meteorettes.

In the men's game, the visitors jumped away to a 15-point lead and it was five minutes into the game before the Rockets registered their first points.

But they found their rhythm late in the first quarter and dominated the second to lead at the main break.

The Rockets maintained their performance through the second half to run out 84-79 winners and inflict the first loss of the season on their highly fancied rivals.

Coach Neal Tweedy said it was an important win, and would set the Rockets up well moving into the next phase of the season.

"We didn't start the best, it was a case of they made shots and we missed shots and before we knew it it we were down 15-0.

Jack Lopez was one of the Rockets best on Friday night.
Jack Lopez was one of the Rockets best on Friday night. Chris Ison ROK190518crockets1

"We dug ourselves a big hole but we worked our way back into it to be up five at half-time.

"We had a big turnaround through the end of the first and the second quarter. Defensively we got some back-to-back stops and then started getting into a bit of a flow ourselves.

"We talk about how important our defence is with our length and our size through the 1, 2, 3 and I think that was a big reason last night.

"We scored 40-something points in 15 minutes of basketball there at the end of the first quarter and in the second quarter which is pretty good going against a quality team like Mackay.”

Malcolm Bernard led the scoring with 27 points and Ray Willis topped the rebounds with 14.

Jack Lopez was good again, going five of eight from the three-point line, while Peni Nasalo made some big plays down the stretch.

Rockets young gun Leon Christensen earned praise from coach Neal Tweedy.
Rockets young gun Leon Christensen earned praise from coach Neal Tweedy. Chris Ison ROK190518crockets6

Tweedy also praised the commitment of Leon Christensen and Trevor Corrigan, who were instrumental in helping turn the early deficit around.

"It really was a team effort. Every player that's hitting the floor at the moment is giving us a great contribution,” he said.

"That always sets you up when you can beat the leaders. We're now three and one so we're in touch with the top group.

"We've had a very tough start to the year.

"I'd say we've played four teams that are all going to be in the top eight at the end of the year so to be three and one with the northern round trip out of the rode we wouldn't have asked for a better start.”

The Rockets and Cyclones are at home again on Friday night against Gladstone.



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