Rockets pull away from hard-working Eagles
The Eagles hosted the visiting Birmingham Rockets on Saturday at the ECA in what was a close game early on. The first quarter saw both teams go on runs early in the quarter as the Rockets blasted out to a 7-0 lead before the Eagles soared back with a 9-0 run of their own before the game settled for the next few minutes and the teams traded baskets. The game was tied with just two minutes left in the first quarter at 18 apiece; the Rockets then went on a 12-2 run to end the quarter meaning the Eagles trailed by 10 going in to the second quarter 20 – 30.
The second quarter started with the Rockets continuing their run to break the game open as they took a 26-41 lead half-way through the second, fueled by great play by Olajuwon and Abushego as they attacked the rim without any regard for the hard-nosed Eagles defence. However, the Eagles managed to stem the tide in the closing 5 minutes of the half as they kept the deficit to 17 points thanks to some improved scoring from the home side. Going in to the half the Eagles trailed with the score sheet reading 37 – 54.
Out of the halftime break the Eagles seemed more locked-in defensively as they halted the Rockets offence forcing two 24 second violations in the first 5 minutes of the frame; unfortunately, the Eagles were unable to capitalise too much on the offensive end from their stingy defensive work as they went on an 8-3 run over that time to reduce the lead to 12. After some substitutions the Rockets again began to pull the lead back out slightly with both teams trading baskets on the way to a 52 – 67 score line entering the final quarter.
The final quarter saw the visitors pile on the Eagles to the tune of 6 – 24 as the fight seemed to leave the young Eagles side with little time gone in the quarter. The stand-outs during the game mainly came from the Birmingham side in the form of Abushego and Olajuwon, however a couple of bright spots for the Eagles as Jerrard continued his great run of play and Sheeran showed glimpses of a return to form throughout.
Eagles Academy Coach David Sayers said “We struggled to stem the tide defensively a little today. As a team we rely heavily on Clark and Hansom to provide us a backbone and when both fell in to foul trouble today we really struggled to stop their offense. There were definitely things we can take as positives though the first and third quarters were good in the main but in the 20 minutes where we looked the better team today we maybe took a 10 point advantage altogether whereas when we went off the boil we were nowhere. We just need to find a way to be more consistent over a full 40.”
Top scorers for the Eagles were senior captain Jerrard with 15 he was supported by Sheeran with 12 and Leperrier with 9. The Rockets were led by Olajuwon and Abushego with 34 and 23 respectively, whilst Anochie chipped in with 14 points of his own.
The Eagles Academy 16’s next match-up sees the youngsters take on conference leaders Manchester Magic away on March 2nd