By Daniel Renfrey

The North Adelaide Rockets have defeated the Forestville Eagles 79-61 on the back of a huge 15-point fourth quarter from MVP Jo Hill in her final game to win the 2018 Premier League Grand Final at Titanium Security Arena. 

Hill finished the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, taking over on both sides of the floor and leading her undefeated team to their most important win of the season. 

While the Rockets led for much of the game, it was the Eagles who had the early jump and led at quarter-time 18-17. Samantha Simons (22points, 7 rebounds) gave Forestville the early momentum in the opening term with 8 early points including 2 back-to-back triples 4 minutes in. 

The Rockets, through strong defence, managed to bring the deficit down to a single point by the end of the quarter. Despite strong performances by Olivia Thompson (21 points, 7 rebounds) and Simons, the Rockets’ fluid offence led by Leah Metcalf (14 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists), saw the team gain control of the term. 

With time running down, North Adelaide’s Kirsty Williams scored a buzzer-beating floater at full speed to close the half with a 38-31 lead. The Eagles failed to let the Rockets gain any momentum from this however, with Monica Bello’s side managing to claw their way back during the third quarter. Thompson and Simons turned up the intensity on offence and defence to start the term, managing to keep Forestville in it. 

The Rockets were able to launch another attack though, with a Jo Hill jump shot putting them up by 9 points with 1:57 left in the term. Thompson continued to apply pressure to the North Adelaide defence and get to the free-throw line multiple times in the last minute and a half of the quarter, bringing the Eagles within only 4 points before the final term. 

This was when final-gamer Jo Hill decided to take matters into her own hands. With the start of the championship-deciding last quarter being neck and neck, it was Hill who kept the Rockets ahead in a dominant display.

Samantha Simons responded, scoring 6 straight points in a quick spurt which saw her side cut the lead to a single point with 4:30 left. 

However, the Eagles struggled to cope with the Rockets’ defence, which recorded a huge 14 steals and 5 blocks for the game, during the final stretch of the quarter.

This defence combined with Hill’s completely dominant final minutes, in which she hit multiple acrobatic layups and free-throws, saw North Adelaide stretch their lead too far and take out the 79-61 win. This is the Rockets’ first Championship since 2014 and a huge achievement by Brenton Johnston and his side, as they have now gone undefeated for the whole 2018 season. 

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