Rocky Rockets blast Heat, Meteors to stay top of ladder
TWELVE-SEATER buses and basketballers aren't typically a good combination.
But the McDonald's Rockhampton Rockets proved they were a winning combo with the reigning QBL men's champions returning to the Beef Capital in the early hours of yesterday morning with wins over Townsville Heat and Mackay Meteors to remain at the top of the QBL ladder.
In a couple loaded-up 12-seater buses, the Rockets tackled the 721km journey north on Thursday and arrived in Townsville in the early hours of Friday morning.
Predictably, they started slowly in their clash against the Heat at Townsville Basketball Centre on Friday night, but stormed home late in the second quarter to set up a 99-83 win over the home side.
New recruits Ray Turner (26), Chehales Tapscott (24) and Townsville junior and former Townsville Crocs NBL player Chris Cedar led the way for the Rockets in Friday night's win.
Starting the match in front of his family and friends, Cedar shot at just over 70% from the field on his way to scoring 18 points.
"Chris played great on both nights," Rockets veteran Glenn Scott said.
"Chris hails from Townsville and he got to start on Friday night and put on a show for his family and friends up there, and playing against his brother Michael Cedar for Mackay on Saturday he did it again."
Cedar said Saturday night's 101-86 win over the Meteors provided an opportunity to claim bragging rights over older brother Michael, who injured his ankle during the match.
ROCKETS 99 (R Turner 26, C Tapscott 24, C Cedar 18) def HEAT 83 (M Norton 14, L Brennan 12, M Rees) at Townsville Basketball Centre on Friday night.
ROCKETS 101 (C Tapscott 30, R Turner 23, C Cedar 19) def METEORS 86 (M Adekponya 21, T Blanchfield 18, D Heuir 17) at Candlestick Park, Mackay on Saturday night.
LADDER: Rockhampton 4, Cairns 3, Brisbane 2, Northside 2, Suncoast Clippers 2, Townsville 1, Mackay 1, South West Metro 1, Toowoomba 1, Gold Coast 1, Bundaberg 1, Ipswich 0, Gladstone 0.
A 2014 preseason match aside, they last played against each in the 2012 QBL season. Chris was in Townsville and Michael in Mackay.
"I let him know that (Mackay's preseason) win didn't count and that I'm now ahead by one," Cedar said of the brothers' friendly rivalry.
"And I will be for the rest of the regular season because we'll both miss the next match because of a family wedding."
Pushing his own post-match soreness aside, Scott said the Rockets completed the 1446km round trip at 3.30am yesterday with exactly what they had set out for - two wins.
"It was good to get the two wins on the road, against Townsville and Mackay especially after bussing it up on Thursday," Scott said.
"It's always tough playing in Mackay especially getting them on the second night when you're tired."
With road trip from hell No.1 done and dusted, the Rockets begin preparations at training tonight to travel again on Friday.
The Rockets meet Cairns Marlins for the second time in a month on Friday night before flying to Brisbane to take on 2013 grand final opponents, Brisbane Capitals on Saturday night.