Cyclones shut down Power in semi-final thriller
ROCKHAMPTON’S Cyclones and Rockets have booked their places in the ConocoPhillips CQ Cup grand finals next week.
The Rockets qualified for the men’s decider with a commanding 93-65 win over Gladstone’s Port City Power in Saturday’s semi-final at Adani Arena.
They came out firing on their home floor and were up by 15 at the end of the first quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the contest.
The Cyclones’ semi, also against Gladstone, was a much tighter affair.
The lead changed 12 times in a see-sawing contest that had the vocal home crowd on the edge of their seats.
The Cyclones had a one-point lead heading into the final quarter and the teams went blow for blow, looking to gain the ascendency.
Inspirational skipper Katrina Clifford landed two vital three-pointers and Tori Rouse iced the 91-83 victory, knocking down four free throws in the final minute of the thriller.
Cyclones’ assistant coach Rachael Duncan said the “awesome win” came on the back of determined defence and a whole lot of heart.
“We knew it was going to be tough and that it was going to come down to our defence,” she said.
“We knew if we worked really, really hard on defence our offence would come.
“It was close; they had us at the first quarter, and then we were up at half-time and obviously the lead changed a fair bit in those two quarters.
“At the third quarter we were one point up and we went on and finished it off.
“We just showed heart at the end and that’s what the team’s all about.”
Gladstone’s Rebecca Haynes had a game to remember against her former club.
The experienced campaigner, who was part of the Cyclones’ back-to-back QBL title wins in 2015 and 2016, scored 37 points, had 23 rebounds and shot the ball overall at 52 per cent.
Cyclones coach Ben Greany said Saturday’s showdown was what finals basketball was all about.
“It was brilliant. It was a close game… it’s the perfect preparation for going into a grand final,” he said.
“We talked about Gladstone being a different team coming into this semi-final and they really put it to us.
“We were tested, and we had to fight hard.
“At the start of the game we talked about how defence was going to win the game, rebounding was going to win the game and being disciplined.
“It’s been a common theme throughout our season and at the end, it was a defensive set that got us that win.”
The Cyclones and Rockets will both play Mackay in the grand final after their teams registered comfortable wins against Bundaberg on Saturday night.
ConocoPhillips CQ Cup semi-final results
Women: Rockhampton Cyclones 91 d Gladstone Port City Power 83, Mackay Meteorettes 83 d Bundaberg Bears 59
Men: Rockhampton Rockets 93 d Gladstone Port City Power 65, Mackay Meteors 120 d Bundaberg Bulls 63