ESSEX Rockets have become the first Southend-based boys basketball side to reach a national final.

The Rockets’ under-12 boys side will take on Leeds Beckett University on July 15.

And the up-and-coming basketball stars qualified for their first ever national final after impressing in the East of England Under-12 Championships, which was held at Oaklands College, in St Albans.

Josh Prentice’s side made it to the final of the competition, seeing off some tough competition en route.

But the under-12s were defeated by the impressive West Herts Warriors in the showpiece, to come away as runners-up.

But Prentice was full of praise for his charges after winning four games at the competition to reach the final and qualify for the national final in the process.

Prentice, 20, said: “We defeated Luton and Oaklands in the group stage, as well as a dominant win over reigning national champions Brentwood Fire.

“That put us through to the semi-finals, where we dethroned the undefeated Essex League champions from this season, Brentwood Leopards, following a hot 14-2 run to open the game.

“In the final we came up against familiar rivals West Herts Warriors, who our under-14s finished runners-up to in the under-14 league.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for our boys, who eventually fell to the nationally renowned Coach Marmo’s side.”

The Rockets’ success comes after a difficult first season.

The under-12 boys side was formed in September, with most of the players having never shot a basketball before.

Rockets’ inexperience told as they lost all ten of their league matches.

Prentice is looking forward to seeing his side in their first ever national final after a difficult league campaign.

“This will be our club’s first ever national final, and it makes us the first boys team in Southend’s history to make a national final,” added Prentice, who formed the basketball club two years ago.

“We are going to take the boys up there the night before and treat them to some activities and a meal, as well as a well deserved kit stash for their achievement.

“The achievement is made even more impressive when you realise that the team was formed in September with most of the boys having never shot a basketball before.

“Being a brand new and inexperienced team, the boys actually went 0-10 in the league this season, losing every single game.

“This is where the Rockets mentality that we all share shone through.

“The boys defied failure, remained focused and hungry and continued to work hard behind the scenes in training.

“After the close of the under-12 league season in January, the boys returned as a completely different side as they produced two double digit wins against Oaklands and fellow Essex side Chelmsford Lions in qualification for the East Championship tournament.

“To go from losing all of their league games to securing a runners-up finish in the East of England and a place in the national finals gave me the single proudest moment I’ve ever felt for the achievement of any of our Rockets teams.

“It really is a testament of their hard work and fortitude.”

The Rockets will be hosting National League trials as they look to build on their recent success. A variety of programmes are on offer and the trials will be held on June 23rd and 24th.

For more information about joining any age group, email