Rockhampton Rockets under-18 mens players (from left) Leon Christensen, Malachi Shanahan, Trevor Corrigan, Bailey Meyers, Damon Christensen and Zac Smith are off to the Gold Coast next week for the Queensland championships. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Rockhampton Rockets under-18 mens players (from left) Leon Christensen, Malachi Shanahan, Trevor Corrigan, Bailey Meyers, Damon Christensen and Zac Smith are off to the Gold Coast next week for the Queensland championships. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

Rockhamtpon Rockets’ battle for finals berth this afternoon

BY 3.45pm today, Rockhampton Rockets under-18 boys basketball coach Paul Christensen will know if his team is in with a shot.

The Rockets tackle the No.1 ranked team, Ipswich, in their opening match of the Queensland under-18 championships at the Gold Coast.

A win over the 2012 under-16 Queensland champions would see the Rocky boys vying for a top-4 position at the carnival.

Despite boasting a young squad featuring six players aged 16 and under, it's not out of the question either.

Led by captains Zac Smith, 16, and Damon Christensen, 15, Rockhampton head into the carnival on the back of some promising form.

They've convincingly upstaged north Queensland rivals Townsville and Mackay in recent times to head into the carnival as the second highest ranked north Queensland team behind Cairns.

After a 30-point defeat at the hands of a team of former and current Rockhampton Rockets stars a fortnight ago, the boys won three out of four quarters before being pipped at the post by three-points in the rematch last Wednesday.

Combine that with the expected omission of Australian under-18 and Ipswich star Matineng-Iakah Leahy, who has an Australian Development Camp in Canberra this week, and they're in with a shot.

"They were champions from two years ago (but) at this stage one of their main players (Leahy) is away on an Australian camp so it's a good sign for us," said coach Christensen, whose team will be joined by a Rockhampton under-18 girls division one team and a boys division two team at the tournament.

"If we're a chance of beating them that's probably our chance then. They're currently tied first in the BQJBC (Brisbane-based competition) so they're a quality side.

"They've got a lot of quality players and a majority of their players are top age so the physicality might be a challenge for us."

One youngster who certainly shapes up is Gladstone's Trevor Corrigan.

Standing at 195cm, 16-year-old Corrigan loads his size-15 shoes into the car and travels to Rockhampton to train and play with the team as his home town doesn't have an under-18 team competing in the tournament.

Following their match against Ipswich, Rockhampton play Mackay Meteors and Sunshine Coast Rip tomorrow, before playing Brisbane Capitals Gold and Gold Coast Tides on Friday.

Finals will start on Saturday.



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