Capitals unearth a gem in Maddi Rocci in another win

The Canberra Capitals have unearthed a gem in emerging point guard Maddison Rocci after the young star guided her side to a third-straight win.

Nineteen-year-old Rocci was forced to shoulder the load with Capitals captain Nat Hurst ruled out on the morning of the game with a middle ear infection.

She didn't let anyone down, scoring 10 points and dishing off three assists in a thrilling 88-87 win over the Adelaide Lightning at the National Convention Centre on Sunday.

Kate Gaze took the captaincy reins with Hurst joining Rachel Jarry courtside, but it was Rocci that sparkled as she finally got the minutes she's been craving all season.

Rocci is considered an Opal-in-waiting, which is why Capitals veteran Mistie Bass [21 points] wasn't the least bit surprised by her brilliant outing.

"Maddi, she's a fighter. She may be short but she's got a big, big heart so she plays much bigger than herself," Bass said.

"She doesn't care how tall anybody is, she's going to go in there and try to make her lay up and I just love that about her.

"Over the years I'm sure she'll become quite the player... a lot to learn but she's got a lot in her toolbox."

Capitals guard Abbey Wehrung [10 points, five rebounds, eight assists] scored inside the opening two seconds to spark a 9-0 run, but turnovers started to creep in as the Lightning struck back.

Though disappointed with Canberra's 20 turnovers, coach Paul Goriss remains ecstatic with the effort that proves the adage "winning is a habit".

"We knew [Rocci] was going to come in and do a good job because she was in good form and that's part of the thing," Goriss said.

"She got a great opportunity against Bendigo to finish off the game and came in [against Adelaide] and led the team really well."

Adelaide piled on 30 points in a mammoth third quarter fightback and scores were tied when Jordan Hooper was fouled with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game.


The Capitals' star import knocked over one free throw to nudge Canberra in front, but controversy swirled around the arena when the clock didn't restart after the second free throw rebounded into open play.

After a lengthy delay Adelaide were gifted a time-out with the clock reading 1.4 seconds left - a ruling met with a chorus of boos - but Canberra held on for their fifth win of the season.

"It was just one of those things??? it's happened to us so many times this season where it's come down to the wire and the scale never tipped in our favour," Bass said.

"You would think a team that has lost as much as we have would fall apart, give up and throw in the towel.

"This team has really fought and I'm really proud of them for doing that. Every day we're trying to get better and we've just actually gotten a lot closer over the season through this."

Goriss hopes Hurst will be fit for a hectic week that will see Canberra host Townsville on Thursday, before travelling to Dandenong for the penultimate game of the season on Saturday.

CANBERRA CAPITALS 88 (Mistie Bass 21, Kate Gaze 14, Jordan Hooper 11) bt ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 87 (Aimie Clydesdale 18, Colleen Planeta 18, Abby Bishop 16) at National Convention Centre.

This story Capitals unearth a gem in Maddi Rocci in another win first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.