In a gripping KitKing Trophy quarter-final at Loddon Valley, Rockets defeated a talented and determined Essex Rebels team 102-85.

Having seen off Rockets in a pre-season friendly the Rebels hit the court confident. But Finleigh Porter making a slam dunk and the returning Taylan Rowe stroking the first of his four rebles soon saw the hosts hit back and take a comfortable 31-19 lead at the first break.

The tight defence that the Rockets were showing saw Zack Powell take a charge before he received an assist from Porter to slam home and see Rockets 15 points ahead within two minutes of the re-start.

Christain Alexander enjoyed a customary slam for the 6’8 forward before he got back quickly to pull off a big rejection as Rebels threatened. But the visitors went on a 7-0 run seeing the Rockets' advantage reduce to just nine points, causing Rockets Head Coach Samit Nurazade to call a time-out.

His team then finished the second period strongly as Porter made a three-point play, Rowe hit a treble and Lewis Champion drove to score giving Rockets a halftime lead of 56-42.

The third period again reflected the Rockets' grip on the game, though Rebels fought tirelessly to disrupt the Rockets' offence whilst scoring themselves.

The quarter was edged by Rebels 21-20, though some great team basketball saw Porter finish and Rowe hit a downtown treble. Champion hit seven from seven from the free throw line, with the returning from injury Reis Pinnock also secured from the same spot.

Powell extended the lead to 20 points but another 7-0 run, including a brace of trebles by Rebels, saw Rockets with just a 76-63 going into the last quarter.

The fourth period was a joy to watch for Lewis Champion fans as he stroked 17 points, including three trebles, made a steal to score and drove and finished twice.

Porter enjoyed a dunk and three-point play whilst Powell took down a big defensive rebound and Elijah Maynard made a pair of lay-ups.

Champion led the team by example and thoroughly deserved the Player of the Match award before an adoring crowd, who enjoyed seeing the Rockets extend their KitKing Trophy journey to the semi-final.

Rockets begin their league campaign at Loddon Valley on Sunday, October 15 at 4 p.m. as they welcome Bradford Dragons to Reading.