Rockets women recorded an emphatic 91-38 victory over Liverpool on a very hot day in their first pre-season outing ahead of their inaugural WNBL Division One campaign, in front of a decent crowd at Nechells Wellbeing Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The tone was set right from the outset, with Preccila Ocrah securing the tip to Michelle Turner, before racing down the other end to receive the pass and lay-in for an easy two on the fast break. Rockets’ starting five were all quickly involved, forcing turnovers through interceptions, steals and wayward passes.
Liverpool were forced to call an early timeout with Rockets racing into a 13-2 lead. Ellie Pierpoint led the scoring for Rockets with five, her highlight of the game coming early on as she expertly finished an alley-oop pass from Turner, while Ocrah had chipped in with an early four to see Rockets take control of the early exchanges.
Following the timeout, Birmingham rotated their squad but the intensity remained the same.
Coach Emery’s team deployed the full-court press, playing with a great deal of energy despite the heat. Through quick ball movement and great decision-making, Rockets built an impressive 32-15 lead by the end of the first. Katie Adamson was impressive on her debut while both Sarah Mullgrave and Nuri Seyedagha-Calderon were fantastic under the basket, both with numerous steals and rebounds.
It was a frantic start to the second quarter, with six fouls committed before Enkeleda Pashaj added the next score from the line. From there, the game settled again and Birmingham slowly increased their lead. Danielle Wallis enjoyed a productive quarter with several steals and fast-break points.
It was clear that the girls have been working on some set moves in training, with several inbound passes leading directly to open shots. This included Rhianna Shackleton scoring her first points for the senior team.
By the halfway point, Rockets had opened up a commanding 49-22 advantage.
Rockets started the third quarter impressively with Seyedagha-Calderon netting 3 points early on, assisted by Catarina Seixas. Liverpool reverted to zone defence in an attempt to stem the flow, but Rockets’ full court press and fast-paced attacking play was too much for the visitors to handle. Georgia Darby, Mullgrave and Pierpoint all made key contributions as the lead stretched to 66-28.
The first six points of the final quarter came on the back off some excellent shooting from Seixas, who secured two 3 pointers in quick succession, assisted by Seyedagha-Calderon and Pashaj respectively.
Pierpoint grabbed an offensive rebound and the high energy of the team was forcing the opposition to make mistakes time and again. As the game entered its final stages, Rockets were ruthless with their ball movement, continually finding the open player and draining their jump shots. Milly Harrison, Shackleton and Darby rounded off the scoring, with baskets in the closing seconds.
The game ended with a commanding 91-38 win for Rockets, who had ten different scorers and five players in double figures. Everyone contributed to a great team performance with the new additions to the roster seamlessly adapting to Coach Emery’s style of play.
After a promising first outing, we now look forward to further friendlies before our first league game of the season at home against Manchester on 30th September.
Match report by Jess Ellicott
Photography by Adelie Media (Martin Lansley)