NBL1 North Players of the Week – Round 6

OVER the weekend, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 North competition delivered one of its most exciting rounds of the 2024 fixture to date, with all sorts of action taking place in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Now six rounds into the season, there are certainly some sides that look well placed for a crack at the title, while others will need to get a move on if they are to make a push into the finals race, which has definitely started to heat up over recent weeks.

With big names across the men’s and women’s competition, there was no shortage of eye-catching performances in Round 6, with some huge figures posted.

With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be taking a look at the standout performances from both divisions, after some big numbers were posted over the weekend. This time, Xavier Ford and AJ Johnson have taken out the honour by stuffing the stat sheet and standing above their peers.

Xavier Ford (Rockhampton Rockets) vs. Northside Wizards

37 points, six rebounds, one assist, six steals

Ford was simply outstanding for Rockhampton as the Rockets handed the Northside Wizards a 16-point loss when the two sides went head to head at Bravus Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The damage was essentially done in the first term, where the Rockets silenced the crowd with a 31-22 opening period to take a commanding lead on the road. It was a tight affair for the remainder of the match, with each run Northside made in a bid to try and make up some ground answered immediately by the visitors, who held on for a 110-94 win.

Ford was the standout for the winning side, having a massive impact on either side of the ball and keeping Rockhampton in front for the entirety of the match.

He had a whopping 37 points on 13/25 shooting, which included four triples to space the floor and take advantage of the defence sagging off when guarding him. Ford also conjured plenty of trips to the free throw line by forcing the defence to foul, and knocking down seven of his 11 attempts from the charity stripe.

Defensively, he was superb at forcing the opposition into turning the ball over and generating consistent transition offence for his side. Ford racked up six steals, making life extremely difficult for Northside’s starting unit across all four quarters.

Ford was terrific on both sides of the ball as the Rockets claimed an impressive win on the road, and should be vital to the team’s finals hopes this season.

AJ Johnson (Northside Wizards) vs. Rockhampton Cyclones

30 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block

Johnson was exceptionally strong for the Wizards, helping her team defeat the Cyclones by seven points at Bravus Arena on Sunday afternoon in a tense affair.

The Cyclones looked in control in the first half of the match, remaining ahead in a low-scoring affair to take a six-point buffer into the main break. However, the Wizards looked reinvigorated after halftime, storming out of the gates to take a one-point lead into the final term, before putting the foot down in the fourth to claim a 70-63 win.

Johnson was at their brilliant best in the win, dominating the paint to leave a true footprint on the match.

They poured in a game-high 30 points, an impressive feat given the Wizards only registered 70 points as a team, showcasing their importance to the side offensively. Johnson did their best work attacking the rim, but also stretched the floor to splash home two triples.

On the glass, Johnson was also a key figure as well, pulling down 16 for the match, with five coming on the offensive end and creating second chance scoring opportunities, many of which they ended up putting back in the hoop themselves.

It was a defining performance from Johnson, who put the team on their back and carried Northside to victory.

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