Thunder's seven-game unbeaten home run ended by Solent

Worthing Thunder were narrowly beaten 90-85 by NBL Division 1 leaders Solent Kestrels in-front of a sell-out crowd at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

In an exhilarating, top-of-the-table contest, the hosts looked to be in control after an 11-0 burst put Worthing 47-41 ahead at the half.  But then Solent fought back in the third quarter as they went on a game-changing 19-0 run themselves to race into a 72-59 lead heading into the fourth quarter and despite pressure towards the end from Thunder, the league leaders hung on.

Thunder’s seven-game unbeaten run at home comes to an end. They now have a week off to prepare for a vital home game against Reading Rockets on February 3.

“This was a hard loss for us tonight and our title dreams now rest on other results after this one,” Coach D said afterwards. “I thought we had things figured out when we went on a run in the second.

“But they went on a run themselves in the third and it changed things. Their point guard, Herman Senor II set the tempo and everything went through him while Joe Tagarelli went to work and destroyed us inside. So with the loss now, we go back to the drawing board and prepare for Reading in a couple weeks and look to maintain the pressure at the top.”

Jorge Ebanks led Thunder with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Zaire Taylor flirted with a triple-double by adding 16 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds and Aiman Rezk posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Marquis Mathis scored 14 points on his debut.

Joe Tagarelli led Solent with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds.

The first quarter was fast-paced with both sides attacking the basket in the early going. Both teams traded scores early on until a three-pointer from Taylor and a lay-up from Ebanks gave Worthing an 11-6 lead. Back-to-back scores from Tagarelli tied the scores before a 6-0 run from the hosts handed the lead back to Worthing. However, a strong finish to the quarter from Solent, highlighted by a three from Jake Eynon gave the visitors a narrow 24-23 edge after the first.

Solent added to that three from Eynon to score the opening three buckets of the second to take a 30-23 cushion, Thunder’s James Grinham ended the cold spell with a triple before Coach D was forced into a timeout as the visitors took a 32-26 lead.

Solent would maintain their lead for the majority of the second before a quick-fire 11-0 burst from the hosts to end the second quarter, inspired by captain Brendan Okoronkwo led Thunder to a 47-41 lead at the half.

The high-intensity start that was witnessed in the early stages of first quarter began the third period as both teams traded three-pointers in the first three possessions. As the quarter progressed though, a 19-0 run from the visitors saw their lead balloon to 70-55 before free throws from Rezk broke the run, but the damage looked to be done as Worthing trailed 72-59 after three.

Scores from Louie Kirkman and Herman Senior II increased the lead to 76-59 before Ebanks took matters into his own hand by scoring six points in an 8-0 run to bring Thunder to within nine points of the Kestrels. But the American duo of Senor and Tagerelli managed to steady the ship despite a furious comeback from the hosts at the end.

Thunder looking to make it eight-in-a-row against neighbours Solent

Nearly three weeks into 2018 and Worthing Thunder will finally be on their home-court for the first time on Saturday when they entertain NBL Division 1 leaders Solent Kestrels at the Worthing Leisure Centre.

Thunder have endured a mixed start to the New Year with a victory to Kent Crusaders followed by a narrow loss last weekend to the Leicester Warriors.

However, the early whispers of title contenders have not gone away, but Coach D knows that every game from now is a must win.

That trend of wins, which saw Thunder rack up seven straight until Saturday’s loss at Leicester must restart this weekend against a Kestrels side who have beaten Worthing twice already this season, once in the National Trophy and also in an NBL Division 1 clash at Fleming Park.

“I'm excited for the weekend,” said Coach D. “The league this year has been full of upsets and surprise results, it's been highly competitive and exciting.

“We've played Solent twice this year and lost both times so I feel we owe them one, we also haven't lost at home during league play mounted with the league standing implications, it's a big game.”

A particular stat that hasn’t been touched since Thunder’s last win at the Leisure Centre in December against Loughborough Student Riders is that Worthing will aim to protect an impressive undefeated seven-game home spell in all competitions.

Thunder will look to introduce Marquis Mathison Saturday. Mathis played for Solent last season. And former Solent guard Jorge Ebanks is fit to face his old club, as well.

The game tips-off on Saturday at 7:30 pm at the Worthing Leisure Centre.

Thunder boost forward line by signing Marquis Mathis

Worthing Thunder Basketball Club are delighted to announce the signing of American forward Marquis Mathis for the remainder of the NBL Division 1 season.

Mathis, who spent last season with the Solent Kestrels is available to make his debut on Saturday against his old side. Whilst at the Kestrels, he averaged an impressive 21.2 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, shooting 45 percent from the field. Mathis was a team-mate of current Thunder point guard Jorge Ebanks.

The Columbus, Ohio native spent a total of four years at college, spending two years at NCAA Division II school Cincinnati State and the last two at West Florida, averaging 16.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in his final year.

“I am looking forward to returning to the hardwood,” said Mathis. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to play for the Worthing Thunder.”

“When I spoke with Zaire and Jorge I became excited about the direction the club is headed in and really looking forward to coming in and doing my part to help the club.” 

Thunder unlucky as seven-game unbeaten run halted by Leicester Warriors

Worthing Thunder were unable to make it eight wins in a row as they lost 76-67 to the Leicester Warriors in an NBL Division 1 clash at the Braunstone Leisure Centre on Saturday afternoon. 

It was a physical encounter, but one that Worthing had the better of for the majority of the game as they led for large chunks of the first half, en route to a double-digit cushion in the opening stages of the third frame. But Leicester fought back to halt Thunder’s winning streak leaving Coach D disappointed but keen to regroup. 

“It’s a heartbreaking loss, especially when we held the lead for the majority of the game,” Coach D said. “Luke (Attfield) and Aiman (Rezk) had decent games but we needed to do more across the board. Leicester did a great job on the defensive end keeping us up to a season-low in scoring. All we can do now is watch tape and hope to regroup next week.” 

Thunder return home for the first time in 2018 when they take on league leaders Solent Kestrels, with Worthing looking to protect home court and build on their seven-game unbeaten run at the Worthing Leisure Centre. 

Zaire Taylor led Thunder with 20 points with big man Luke Attfield having a career-best 15 points, off the bench. 

Both teams were slow to get out of the blocks with neither side allowing easy looks inside, and it was reflected in the scoreline with the scores locked at 21-21. Thunder though would take the initiative in the second quarter in a physical contest to take a 38-33 lead. 

The physicality trend continued in the second half, but despite the pressure, Thunder were able to establish a 47-35 lead early on thanks to Taylor. Leicester were able to reduce the deficit thanks to some quick buckets and they brought it to within two points before timely scores from Josh Goddard and a triple from Naz McLoughlin handed Worthing a 57-50 lead, which shrunk slightly to 57-52 at the end of the third. 

An early score from Taylor followed by a hook shot down low by Attfield gave the visitors a 60-52 cushion but then Warriors turned up the defensive intensity and despite a three from Brendan Okoronkwo briefly giving Thunder a 62-59 lead, the Warriors took the lead. Coach D called a timeout with 2:58 left but even though Worthing attacked the basket and found themselves with opportunities at the line, they were unable to take advantage and the hosts sealed the win from the foul line.

Coach D hopes to continue winning run on Saturday

Worthing Thunder’s Coach D is not looking at his side’s opening day win over Leicester Warriors as motivation when they head to Braunstone Leisure Centre for an NBL Division 1 clash on Saturday afternoon.

Thunder won comfortably 72-57 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on the opening day but since then both Worthing and Leicester have drastically changed their line-ups.

The Warriors, normally a bit of an unknown quantity in terms of public news have changed their line-up with two Americans added to their roster.

Coach D though believes that Thunder’s form, which has seen them win seven games in a row will continue on Saturday.

“Leicester is definitely going to be an interesting game,” Coach D said

“They have changed quite a bit since we've last played them and despite being in the bottom end of the table they narrowly lost to Reading by five and won two in a row including, the then top of the table Hemel.

“We are playing at a good clip at the moment and our bench production has come at a much needed time so I'm hoping we can weather Leicester at their place."

Thunder’s road game against Leicester tips off at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon.

Thunder just make it past Kent Crusaders

Worthing Thunder were made to sweat, but they began 2018 with an 84-73 win over Kent Crusaders in the NBL Division 1 clash at Barking Abbey School on Saturday afternoon.

Enjoying a comfortable 70-54 lead after the third quarter, Worthing were pegged back by a dogged Kent side who put Thunder in foul trouble early and as a result, Zaire Taylor fouled out, midway through the fourth with captain Brendan Okoronkwo following later on.

As a result, Jorge Ebanks, who was supposed to be rested for this game as he recovers from a shoulder injury played the final 4:29 and was amongst the players that iced the game from the foul line as Worthing sealed their seventh straight win in NBL Division 1 and for the time being, leap into second.

Zaire Taylor led the scoring with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists with Aiman Rezk adding 21 points as well as pulling down a season-high 21 rebounds and swatting away four Crusaders’ field goal attempts.

“I felt comfortable during the entire game up until the last quarter I knew they’d make a run,” Rezk said afterwards. “I was unsure if we could maintain the lead just with the inexperienced guys we had but we pulled together and came out with the W.

“Kent are a young talented team I thought it was going to be another close game between us like our first encounter with them. I’m just happy we started the year off right.”

James Grinham shot 41 percent from three-point land as he scored 16 points for the Thunder, including a timely triple towards the latter stages of the fourth to restore a double-digit lead, when the hosts had Thunder seemingly on the ropes.

Caleb Fuller led Kent with 29 points.

Rezk and Grinham immediately got Thunder off to a perfect start before they were pegged back by Kent. Taylor, who was slow to get off the mark gave Worthing a little breathing space as he scored back-to-back buckets followed by a three from Grinham put the visitors up 21-13, leading to a 23-16 cushion after the first.

Scores from Taylor and Grinham quickly put Worthing up by double-digits in the second as they scored at will against a Crusaders defence that could not contain a bigger Thunder line-up.

The sizeable cushion allowed Coach D to rotate his players, giving Naz McLoughlin and Luke Attfield more court time. By the end of the half, Thunder led 44-29.

Kent though would not go away and led by Pierce Maslen, they went on a 7-0 run, early in the third to cut Thunder’s lead to 51-41, which was swiftly ended by great link-up play between Josh Goddard and Rezk with the former getting the score.

Worthing found their rhythm again as they frequently out-rebounded a much smaller Crusaders line-up and with the visitors scoring regularly; they took a commanding 70-54 lead heading into the final quarter.

Despite the margin, Kent continued to attack Worthing and their award was getting Taylor and Okoronkwo fouled out of the game. Because of this, Ebanks, who is still recovering from his shoulder injury came on and steadied the ship for the final four minutes as Worthing sealed the win.

Thunder settling into 2018 ahead of road game against Crusaders

Worthing Thunder returns to NBL Division 1 action on Saturday when they travel to Kent Crusaders, with the team settling into their rhythm after the Christmas break.

Thunder are currently the in-form side in the league with six straight wins. However, with the traditional two-week break for Christmas taking effect, the team chemistry might play a factor.

But upon the team’s return to training this week, players were quick to settle into their usual pattern ahead of the game against a Kent side currently struggling in the league.

“I feel that we've settled back into training nicely,” said forward Josh Goddard. 

“We've managed to stay in shape over the festive period as we are keen to continue our winning ways and start off the business end of the year just how we finished the first half.”

“I expect us to carry on from where we left off before the Christmas break,” added Thunder’s sharp shooter James Grinham. 

“I don't think it'll be a tough adjustment coming back but Kent are a team that gave us trouble in the trophy so we'll need to be ready. We won't take any team lightly.”

Crusaders are currently third from bottom in Division 1 on the back of five consecutive losses. The two teams have played each other this season in the National Trophy with Thunder coming away with a narrow 77-76 win thanks to a late bucket from Zaire Taylor.

Thunder’s trip to Barking Abbey School to face the Kent Crusaders tips off at 4 pm.

Taylor-made buzzer beater topples league leaders

Worthing Thunder ended Loughborough Student Riders’ eight-game NBL Division 1 winning streak with a physical 82-80 win at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

In a game that went down to the last shot, Zaire Taylor struck from close range with 0.7 seconds left to cancel out Lucien Christofis’ three-pointer, which he hit with two ticks left to originally tie the game at 80-80.

In perhaps one of the most physical games Thunder have had this this season, they record their sixth straight win of the campaign and their seventh consecutive victory at home.

“It’s moments like this that every basketball player loves, and I thrive on moments like this,” Taylor said following his game-winner.

“Back home, every kid on the street that had a basket would shoot hoops and count down in their head and make the winning shot. That’s the second time I’ve done that this season and it’s great to keep our unbeaten home record going. Credit though to the Riders, they were a tough, physical team. We got beat up tonight. But so did they.”

Taylor had one of his quieter games of the season, scoring 20 points as captain Brendan Okoronkwo paced the winners with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, which gave him Barkers Tarring MVP.

“This meant a lot to us,” Okoronkwo said. “It was a win that we needed to give us momentum going into the break but also to tell the league leaders that this is our court.”

Tom Ward produced a sublime display in the absence of Jorge Ebanks, who injured his shoulder early in the second quarter. The veteran posted 17 points on 50 percent shooting.

Lucien Christofis, a former student of Brighton and Hove Sixth Form, led the Riders with 23 points. On his return to the south coast, Hosana Kitenge posted 10 points and eight rebounds. Another ex-Worthing player, Max Richardson did not suit up for the visitors.

A blistering start to the game saw a 15-2 run from the hosts give them an early 17-9 cushion as Worthing forced the Student Riders into countless basic turnovers as they committed nine in all leading Thunder to a 26-20 lead heading into the second.

And right off the first minute, Thunder’s lead grew into a double-digit advantage thanks to scores inside from Aiman Rezk and Okoronkwo. But minor knocks to Ebanks and Taylor as the quarter progressed saw Riders gradually come into the game and an 8-0 run to end the half put them in a competitive position, but Thunder still had a 46-37 lead at the break.

That lead though shrunk in the third quarter as the Student Riders learnt from their mistakes in the first and kept the offence simple but effective as they scored regularly while Worthing began missing shots as the basket closed on them. Despite that, Taylor kept the hosts in control towards the end as they led 63-61 after three.

Scores from Okoronkwo and Taylor kept Thunder ahead to start the fourth period as the Student Riders kept pressing and led by the hot shooting of Christofis, the visitors were knocking at the door until the very end. But Thunder had enough in them in-front of a near sell-out crowd of 625 to claim their seventh team in a row at home.

Different opinions, same goals for Thunder ahead of Student Riders visit on Saturday

Worthing Thunder captain Brendan Okoronkwo and guard Jorge Ebanks have different opinions but share the same goal ahead of the vital NBL Division 1 home clash against Loughborough Student Riders on Saturday night.

Thunder come into the game against the Division 1’s league leaders on the back of five straight wins and six straight at the Worthing Leisure Centre this season.

But the Student Riders, who boast former Thunder players Hosana Kitenge and Max Richardson along with one-time BHASVIC student Lucien Christofis, head to the south coast on the back of eight straight victories.

“We're out to prove we belong with the leagues best,” Okoronkwo said. “We're excited and ready to give what it takes to come out with a win and keep our streak alive going into the December break. Who better to do that against than the current number one team and familiar faces.

While Okoronkwo goes into Saturday’s game with those familiar faces on the other side of the court, Ebanks, who is enjoying his first season with the Thunder claims that it is slightly different for him.

“It’s different for him because he knows them as for me it’s more of a business game as usual and us hunting for the first place spot,” Ebanks said. “And if we want to get there we have to beat the first place team.”

Thunder’s final home game of 2017 against the Student Riders tips-off at 7:30 pm on Saturday night.

Worthing put on defensive show and eventually see-off Derby

Worthing Thunder secured its fifth NBL Division 1 win in a row with a 92-81 win over Derby Trailblazers at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre on Saturday night.

Despite a lapse in the third period, Thunder were in firm control, racing into a 32-9 lead after the first quarter and never looking back, leading for the majority of the contest.

Zaire Taylor led all scorers with 36 points with Jorge Ebanks adding 15 and James Grinham 13 points, as Coach D’s men scored their second away win of the season.

Worthing improves to 7-3 in NBL Division 1 with a home fixture against league leaders Loughborough Student Riders coming next Saturday.

“First quarter we played the best defence we've played all season and that put us in a great position for the rest of the game,” Coach D said. “Derby showed great resilience and it was hostile environment, but the guys stayed focus.”

Matt Ward-Hibbert led Derby with 18 points, as they slip to 3-7 in the standings.

Defence was a major highlight for the visitors to start as they led 8-3 early, before holding the hosts to just nine points in the first quarter, taking a commanding 32-9 cushion. Taylor managed to outscore the entire Derby team on his own with 12 first quarter points.

Derby started to find their rhythm in the second period, but it seemed that Worthing’s lead was too much for the hosts, as Thunder took a 56-37 lead at the half.

It was the third quarter where Worthing started to show gaps in their defence, with Derby executing on their outside jumpers, as they trimmed the lead to single-digits with Ward-Hibbert scoring nine of his team-high 18 to bring Derby to within 75-64 after three.

But despite the added pressure, Thunder managed to maintain their advantage and restore their double-digit lead to seal the win.

Thunder head to Derby in search of vital road win

Worthing Thunder are aiming for A fifth straight win in the NBL Division 1 on Saturday as they travel to the Derby Trailblazers with forward Josh Goddard believing that road victories can make or break a team.

Thunder secured their first away win in five attempts in all competitions, two weeks ago in Manchester against the Magic with Goddard beginning to settle into the rotation.

Now the 21-year-old has progressed and is a key contributor to the Thunder team with the humble big man just wanting to make the club proud.

“I'm settling in well to the team; especially my role within the rotations on the court, as well as supporting from the bench,” Goddard said.

“I've found the club extremely welcoming, especially being from the Solent set up; the guys on the team and all the staff behind the scenes have given me an experience I couldn’t have imagined.

“It's a great feeling to be part of something as big as Worthing Thunder and I just hope that I can do the fans; staff and my team-mates proud.”

Fresh off perhaps his best performance in the Thunder uniform last week against Bradford, where he recorded 12 points off a perfect 6/6 shooting, Goodard and the Thunder head to face a Derby team that are currently struggling in NBL Division 1 with a 3-6 record.

But a losing record means nothing on the night and Goddard is aware of that, knowing that getting wins on the road are perhaps even more important than protecting home court.

"Road wins throughout the season can make or break a team’s chances of success at this level; whether it's a one-point win or a 20-point win, the effect it has on the league and the team is massive,” Goddard says.

“We managed to get a good win away to Manchester two weeks ago with everyone playing their role well.

“We have exceptional players in Zaire and Jorge, who always find themselves in the top performers of the week category but I feel players like Brendan and Aiman often have their efforts go unseen, with their leadership skills and defensive influences respectively, that have helped this team be as successful as it has been this year.”

Thunder’s game against Derby tips-off at 7:15pm at Clarance Wiggins Sports Centre.

Thunder make it a perfect six with hard fought win over Bradford

Worthing Thunder made it six home wins in a row and maintained their unbeaten NBL Division 1 record at the Worthing Leisure Centre with a hard-fought 93-87 win over Bradford Dragons on Saturday night.

In a physical battle between two teams with contrasting styles of basketball, Thunder had to come from behind to claim their sixth win of the season against a Dragons side who will count themselves unlucky.

Worthing improve to 6-3 and until Sunday’s fixtures are up to fifth in the NBL Division 1 table.  But while the win is the most important thing, Coach D knows that his side were in a battle tonight.

“This was definitely a tough test for us tonight,” said Coach D. “Bradford are one of the most well-drilled sides in the league and we knew that we were in for a tough match up. First half, we couldn’t take the lead and couldn’t break them down. They played outstanding basketball. But we stick at it, and finally got to playing our brand of basketball, got the lead and we worked hard for the win.”

Zaire Taylor led all scorers with 36 points and 12 rebounds to claim the Barkers Tarring MVP. Jorge Ebanks added 23 with Josh Goddard getting 12 points, off the bench in the win.

Marcus Gooding led Bradford with 23 points.

And it was the visitors who got off to a quick start as two triples and scores inside from Jermaine Laing, Rafael Saipe and veteran Ricky Fetske cancelled out a three-point play from Ebanks for a 10-3 lead.

Goddard hit back-to-back buckets to narrow the gap but it was a first quarter that didn’t favour the defence as both sides scored often. After one though, it was Bradford that held a narrow 31-28 lead.

The scoring trend for both teams continued in the second quarter and despite Thunder’s efforts and attempts to break in transition, Bradford maintained a slight advantage throughout. It wasn’t until the final seconds when a single free throw from Taylor tied the scores at 52-52 and that was the score at the break.

Despite a score early in the third quarter from Fetske, Thunder responded quickly with a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game. A 7-0 burst from the visitors, inspired by veteran Rihard Sulcs restored Bradford’s advantage at 63-60 only to be answered by a second 6-0 spell by the hosts, led by Ebanks to give Worthing a 66-63 lead. Bradford though finished the third strong to take a 71-68 lead heading into the final quarter.

A bucket to start the fourth from Ebanks was cancelled out by a three from Eisley Swaine, who gave the visitors a 74-70 lead. This was the last time that Bradford would enjoy the advantage as Aiman Rezk restored Thunder’s lead with a triple from Ebanks with 3:47 remaining extending the cushion to 82-77 and from there, the result was never in doubt.

 

Tom Ward and Thunder looking to protect Leisure Centre fortress

Worthing Thunder guard Tom Ward is keen to protect the team’s unbeaten NBL Division 1 home record this Saturday when the Bradford Dragons visit the Worthing Leisure Centre.

Ever since the home loss to Reading Rockets in September, Thunder have won five straight fixtures at home, including four in the league.

Ward made his season debut for Worthing in their opening day win over Leicester Warriors and is enjoying his role within the club this season.

“I’m settling in well into the rotation and my role within the team,” Ward said. “We have some amazing scorers and I enjoy my role helping to facilitate at the offensive end and being vocal defensively.”

It’s a different role to what the Brighton-based guard has been accustomed to with Worthing, as he has been one of the main options on the offensive end. This season, he has mixed his strong, all-around game to help players like Zaire Taylor, Jorge Ebanks and Brendan Okoronkwo more plus he can still knock his trademark pull-up jumper down, as well.

All in all, Ward is enjoying his role with Thunder as they prepare for a tough encounter with the Dragons, who begin their double-header this weekend, with a game against Solent Kestrels rounding off their south coast odyssey. 

“We are feeling great going into the Bradford game and full of confidence,” Ward said. “The Thunderdome is a fortress right now that we will continue to protect.”

Thunder hosts the Dragons on Saturday at the Worthing Leisure Centre, with tip-off at 7:30 pm. The Worthing Thunder under-14 are also in action against Feltham Warriors in a rearranged fixture, with tip-off at 5 pm.

Thunder use Magic fourth quarter to beat Manchester

Worthing Thunder made it three wins in a row and secured their first away victory of the season in NBL Division 1 as they produced a perfect fourth quarter to see-off Manchester Magic 98-83 at the Amaechi Basketball Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Having been pegged back to a narrow 67-65 lead at the end of the third quarter, it was still all to play for. But Thunder took the advantage early thanks to a 10-0 run, which gave them a double-digit lead and sealed the win as Manchester couldn’t close the gap any closer than seven points.

Zaire Taylor led Thunder with 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists with Jorge Ebanks posting 26 points and eight assists and Brendan Okoronkwo adding 16 points, six rebounds and five assists as Thunder took the win despite being short-handed.

“Top teams win away from home, something we hadn’t done until today,” said Okoronkwo.

“This weekend was a key one in the calendar to prove we belong at the top with the best. Both sides were missing key pieces, we showed we can come together as a unit and get the job done. We have some great momentum going into December.”

The win moves Thunder up to sixth in the table, as they move above Manchester, who falls into seventh.

Hamad Ali led Manchester with 27 points, as they too were without the services of Stefan Gill and Donte Gittens for this game.

After an even first quarter, where both sides traded buckets for the majority, it was Thunder who took the early initiative as Ebanks and Taylor combined to give the visitors a 24-20 lead, heading into the second.

And Worthing managed to extend their lead at the start of the second thanks to a three from Taylor and a score inside from Ebanks, which gave them a 31-22 cushion. Manchester though started to find their rhythm and after a brief cold spell from Worthing, a long two from Ali handed the hosts a 40-38 lead with 2:03 left in the half. But the visitors recovered from their cold spell and they went into the locker rooms, 48-44 ahead.

And the interval did not deter Thunder as they quickly established a double-digit lead, two minutes into the third as a lay-up from Ebanks handed Worthing a 57-46 cushion. Manchester though hit back and a 14-3 run tied the scores at 60-60 before Taylor guided Thunder back into the lead at 67-65 after three.

Manchester had the momentum heading into the fourth but they were unable to get their shots to drop and as a result, Thunder took full advantage with a 10-0 run that ultimately sealed their first road win of the season.

Thunder continue unbeaten home run with win over Spinners

Worthing Thunder extended their unbeaten NBL Division 1 home record to five games with a 90-69 win over the Lancashire Spinners at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Zaire Taylor led all scorers with 35 points, eight rebounds and five steals with Jorge Ebanks winning Barkers Tarring MVP honours for the night as he added 27 points, shooting 52 percent from the field.

James Grinham hit 14 points and Brendan Okoronwko amassed 10 points and four assists to complete a good night’s work for Thunder whose lead peaked at 23 points, with 29 of their 90 points total coming from 27 Lancashire turnovers.

Coach D though was happy with the win as this game gave him a chance to experiment with different line-ups, successfully but admits that there was room for improvement.

“I wanted to see what our guys were capable of and we focused on our execution all week in practice but even though we won, I’m not entirely happy, I feel we that we can perform a lot better,” Coach D said.

“We broke out in transition well and took advantage of their turnovers, and scored off them but a win is a win.”

Loick Pouale led Lancashire with 23 points,

After a slow start where Thunder trailed 9-3, early on, Taylor found his groove inside as he brought his side to within two points, followed a tip from Aiman Rezk, which tied the scores at 9-9.

Lancashire though settled with three-point attempts, which worked for them as a triple from George Davis gave the visitors a 20-15 cushion.  It was at that point where Worthing stepped up a gear as a 12-2 finish to the first quarter gave Worthing a 27-22 lead.

Thunder then firmly established their dominance as an 11-0 run ballooned their lead to 45-26, thanks in part to the hot shooting of Grinham who had 14 points in the first half. Spinners were held to just ten points in a solid second period as the hosts led 48-32 at the half.

With Thunder trying to put Spinners away, the hosts scored freely in transition and a breakaway score from Ebanks put Worthing up 58-38. Spinners responded with a 7-0 run but the hosts answered back with a 10-0 burst to end the third quarter 70-47 ahead.

With a comfortable lead, Thunder began to get comfortable, and as a result the Spinners reduced the deficit to 11 points, taking advantage of some defensive lapses, but led by Ebanks, Thunder went up the gears again and coasted to the victory.

Thunder preparing for tricky double-header

Worthing Thunder’s Coach D is expecting two tough NBL Division 1 contests this weekend as they embark on a tricky double-header starting with a home game against basement side Lancashire Spinners on Saturday.

The Spinners are currently still searching for their first win of the campaign, having lost their opening seven games but despite Lancashire’s record, Coach D is not taking them lightly and does not want his side to be the first victim of the season.

“I'm expecting a team that hasn't won a game to be desperate and hungry for some success,” Coach D said. “They have just made a new signing so we are definitely not trying to be the first team to be caught out.”

On the other hand, Worthing will want to travel to Manchester on Sunday to face the Magic with a winning record on their shoulders.

Manchester are lying in fifth with a 5-2 record and boast players like veteran Stefan Gill and free scoring Donte Gittens on their roster.

“It will be a challenge given our bench and on a back to back, Manchester has had some good results this season so we need to be very aware of what they are capable of,” Coach D said.

Thunder’s game against Spinners tips off at 7:30pm, with their trip to Manchester tipping off at 5pm.

Thunder topple the champions

Worthing Thunder kept their unbeaten home record in NBL Division 1 as they defeated reigning champions Team Northumbria 85-76 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Zaire Taylor led Thunder with a game-high 36 points and pulled down seven rebounds, capturing Barkers Tarring MVP honours as Worthing made it three wins out of three on their home court and four straight in all competitions.

“It was a good game,” said Taylor afterwards. “I think we came out and fought, it was an even first quarter, I like the way we came out in the second quarter, defensively.

“We had trouble containing (Malcolm) Smith, he was a tough match-up for us, he did his thing, but all in all, we stick together, we fought we had guys playing their roles more and at the end of the day we got the (win).”

Jorge Ebanks added 18 points, eight rebounds and team captain Brendan Okoronkwo got 15 for the winners, but despite a big win against the NBL Division 1 champions, Coach D is adamant that it wasn’t a statement win and that there’s still a long way to go in the season.

“It wasn’t a statement but more an important win to keep our home record going,” Coach D said. “We are an above .500 team. We want to be competing for Playoff spots and we wanted to bounce back from last week, we were eager and tonight, everyone played their part.”

Malcolm Smith led Team Northumbria with 32 points and 14 rebounds.

After a slow start, Taylor got the hosts going with a drive inside. Smith though went on a personal one-man tear for Northumbria as he scored their first ten points, leading them to an early 10-6 advantage. Worthing though began to find their rhythm and finished the first quarter on a 7-1 run to keep the score deadlocked at 22-22 heading into the second.

Baskets to begin the second by Taylor and Jorge Ebanks gave Worthing their first lead of the game but a 6-0 run by Team Northumbria restored their cushion to 28-26 only to be matched again by the hosts, who hit two three-pointers in their quick-fire 8-0 run to wrestle the lead back and further scores from Okoronkwo and Luke Attfield gave Thunder their biggest lead of the first half at 42-30 before settling for a 44-33 advantage at the half.

Despite pressure from Northumbria, Thunder managed to maintain their double-digit cushion throughout the third quarter and a three from captain Okoronkwo handed Worthing a 58-43 lead. The visitors though took advantage of some defensive lapses towards the end of the period as the Newcastle-based side went on a 7-0 run to keep them in touch, going to the fourth with the hosts holding a 61-55 lead.

And Northumbria’s momentum carried into the final period as they narrowed the gap to 65-63 thanks to Smith. Worthing though kept their composure and the Staten Island duo of Taylor and Ebanks guided the hosts to the win.

Worthing out to protect home court on Saturday

Worthing Thunder’s Coach D has called for his guys to protect the home court when the reigning NBL Division 1 champions Team Northumbria visit the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Thunder came within inches of defeating Hemel Storm on their home floor last Sunday but fell just short. As a result, they enter Saturday’s home fixture with a 2-3 record, where Northumbria sit just outside the top four with a 3-2 mark.

“Northumbria’s going to be another tough, physical encounter and with Manchester coming up the week after as well, we need everyone to be on the same page,” said Coach D

“We need to be executing at both ends because at the moment we have far too many lapses. But saying that, like we did against Hemel, we can compete against the best teams so when Northumbria visit, we would like to protect our home record and make it four straight wins in front of our home fans.”

It’s another one-game homestead for Thunder, who are searching for their first win over Team Northumbria since February 2016.

Worthing’s NBL Division 1 clash with Team Northumbria tips-off at 7:30pm.

Thunder pipped to the post by Hemel

Worthing Thunder narrowly lost 91-89 to Hemel Storm in a physical encounter played at Sport Space on Sunday afternoon.

And it was a game that got away from Thunder after an 18-0 run between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth had them in the driving seat, leading 79-69.

But with Hemel’s overall height and physicality wearing heavy on Thunder’s players, they conceded a late 9-2 run by the Storm who claimed victory with a basket from Wayne Yeboah with 15.1 seconds left proving to be the game-winner. Jorge Ebanks missed two foul shots with 14.6 left and a late half-court heave by Zaire Taylor missed it mark in a thrilling battle.

After being held to just two points in the first quarter, Taylor led Thunder with 31 points, Ebanks added 18 and Brendan Okoronkwo had 17.

“It was tough, we had the lead but fatigue due to Hemel’s physical nature played it part,” Coach D said afterwards. “Scoring wise it seemed that we had no-one else to relive Zaire, Brendan and Jorge. Some of the stuff they did was outstanding. The others played their part but couldn’t seem to put the points on the board.

“However, we had our lapses as well which played a factor in our loss. We played a Hemel side that look like they will be up there this season, and came within seconds of beating them. We just need to focus on being solid at both ends.”

A fast start from both sides saw Ebanks hit the first eight points for Thunder but Hemel hit four three-pointers in the first four minutes for a 12-10 lead, early on. Defence was hardly a factor as both teams found great freedom from beyond the arc as the two teams hit a total of ten triples but it was advantage Storm, as they held a 33-24 advantage after the first.

After being held to just two points in the first quarter, Zaire Taylor finally found his stride as he single-handedly brought Thunder back in the first three minutes of the second. Hemel however made it a 44-34 cushion, thanks to a score inside by veteran Dave Ajumobi.

Worthing smartly though took advantage of a very over-enthusiastic Hemel defensive line, putting them in the penalty with 6:50 left in the second and led by Taylor, the visitors gradually pulled the deficit back and a score in heavy traffic by Taylor late in the period tied the scores at 48-48. Storm though recovered and took a 56-50 lead into the break.

Thunder started the third quarter with a purpose but despite solid play at both ends, couldn’t seem to cut properly into the Hemel lead in the early stages of the third.

That was until Okoronkwo stepped up as he led the strong finish to the third that saw Worthing go up 72-69 heading into the fourth quarter. And it in the early stages of the final period, the visitors completed an 18-0 burst with a three-pointer by Taylor, giving them a 79-69 lead, forcing Storm coach Robert Youngblood to call a timeout.

And as the game wore on, Storm creeped back into the contest and they sealed a last gasp win, which was harsh on Coach D’s men. 

Scorers might not accurate, as Hemel Storm did not provide any stats.

Okoronkwo looking to Hemel as a benchmark to where they are

Worthing Thunder captain Brendan Okoronkwo believes that Sunday’s NBL Division 1 clash away to Hemel Storm will give them a good indication of where they are at in terms with the top teams in the league.

Thunder are currently sitting in mid-table on a 2-2 record but have yet to register an away win this season. Something that Okoronkwo is hoping to change.

Worthing scored a much-needed 84-77 win over Team Newcastle University last weekend, which ended a run of three-straight losses but was their third straight home victory.

But playing Hemel, Okoronkwo believes will give them a benchmark to where they are as a team on Sunday afternoon. Plus, it’s a chance to shake the away day blues and move on up the standings.

Hemel themselves are currently second in the table with a 4-1 record and they return to their home court after two wins up the north-east last weekend to reigning champions Team Northumbria and Team Newcastle University.

“We’re happy with the win last week and have used this week to focus on the defensive end - we have room to improve that side of the ball,” Okoronkwo said.

“Hemel have been off to a great start. From watching tape, their physicality, size and speed of play have startled a lot of teams, typical characteristics of a team coached by Robert Youngblood, guess that comes from his playing days.

“This weekends game will be a good benchmark for us, we want to finish up with teams like Hemel, so we have to give a good account for ourselves, come out and compete.”

Thunder’s game against Hemel Storm tips-off at 5pm at SportSpace on Sunday afternoon.

Thunder secure second win of NBL Div 1 campaign

Worthing Thunder recorded their third straight home win with a hard-fought 84-77 win over Team Newcastle University in an NBL Division 1 clash at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Thunder improves to 2-2 in the league, dropping newly promoted Newcastle to 1-5.

Zaire Taylor recorded an impressive double-double of 29 points and 10 steals in the win with captain Brendan Okoronkwo adding 22 to along with seven rebounds, making him the Barkers Tarring MVP.

“It’s always good to protect home court,” Okoronkwo said. “We want teams to come here and be in a difficult game, especially with a number of supporters we have, being against them.

“We had a strong week in practice and it showed in the game, we read from the same page and executed well. We forced them into a lot of turnovers and despite a few hiccups, performed well.”

On his home debut, Jorge Ebanks posted 17 points and three assists to cap off a good night’s work for Thunder, as they forced Newcastle into 24 turnovers, scoring 19 points off those giveaways. The hosts also shot a solid 45 percent from the field.

“Newcastle are a good team, they play as a team and they have a high basketball IQ,” Coach D said. “Their record is not a reflection on them. They will certainly beat some teams as the season goes.

“We had to be mindful of everyone and everyone on the court played their part and it was a good all-around team performance from us and we protected our home court, which we need to be doing.”

Joey Bennett led Newcastle with 24 points.

From the get-go, Taylor attacked the visitors as he scored five quick points before Newcastle got off the mark in what was a frantic first few possessions.  Ebanks scored his first points as a home player at the Leisure Centre as the hosts took a 9-4 lead early on.

Newcastle though fought their way back into the game with Bennett connecting from deep for a 14-13 advantage, but Taylor and Okoronkwo inspired the hosts to a 24-23 lead after the first.

Both teams traded leads in the opening stages in the second quarter until back-to-back scores from Ebanks handed Worthing a 38-35 cushion. Thunder followed this with a 9-0 run with four of those points coming from Taylor that led to Worthing enjoying a 51-43 advantage at the half.

The visitors opened the scoring in the third, but it was followed by a 13-2 run by Thunder with Ebanks hitting five of those points for a 64-47 lead. Newcastle then answered with a 7-0 run to bring the deficit to 64-54 with three minutes left in the quarter. The hosts maintained the lead to end the third quarter at 67-59, with Newcastle keeping the game interesting following a positive spell towards the latter stages.

Okoronkwo though took it upon himself to keep Thunder on top in the early stages of the final period with back-to-back three-point plays to extend the lead to 73-61. Seven quick points from Joey Bennett kept Newcastle in it, but Taylor and Okoronkwo put Thunder out of reach as the game wore on, handing them their second win of the league season.

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