READING Rockets (8-6) dropped to sixth in the NBL Division One table after they slipped to a 70-59 at table-toppers Team Solent Kestrels (12-3) on Sunday.

The visitors began brightly and Sydney Donaldson scored off the glass to open the scoring before Jonny Foulds took a charge and then a dish to Scotty Hendricks to drain the first of his brace of trebles in the first quarter.

Declan Soukup went coast-to-coast and Ed Potter tipped in his own rebounded shot, and when Hendricks scored his second treble and the returning Danny Carter his first points for months, Rockets enjoyed a short lived 16-11 advantage.

However, Solent showed why they are league leaders and fought back tenaciously, hitting a pair of trebles to bring the game level at 22-22 at the end of the opening quarter.

The tightest of defences ruled the second period as both leaked very little and only scored 10 points apiece.

Hendricks hit his third treble against one from, before Soukup sent an assist to Tim Gill. He then made a steal before he took a charge and Carter showed the way inside as he took down an offensive rebound to score.

Rockets missed a pair of easy lay-ups when the players were unopposed, but still battled on against the title favourites and went to the locker room at 32-32.

A 5-0 opening run by Solent was replied to by Donaldson and Foulds before a typical Soukup pull-up score ensured this quarter was to be like the earlier ones, tight defences and no easy points.

Hendricks hit his fourth treble and Carter scored inside on two consecutive occasions, while Soukup hit a pair of free throws to level the scores at 48-48.

However, a wasted possession with just 5.6 seconds of the quarter remaining allowed Solent to edge ahead 52-49 as the final period beckoned.

Carter took down a defensive rebound to stop the hosts and Donaldson spun to score leaving the game tantalisingly close at the start of the quarter.

Two three-point efforts rimmed out for Rockets and Solent punished them with six quick unanswered points to lead 60-53 with just under three-and-a-half minutes to go.

Despite Soukup scoring with a pull-up treble, Rockets had to foul to try to get possession, but Solent stroked eight from 10 penalty shots in the last 90 seconds to take the win.

Top scorers for Rockets were captain Carter with 13 points and eight rebounds; Hendricks with 12 points and four steals and Donaldson with 12 points, five rebounds and five steals.

Rockets do not have a game this weekend, returning to action at Worthing Thunder at the beginning of February.

  • JOEL Keeble (pictured) has ended his fourth season with Rockets early to focus on his final preparations for his degree at Reading University.