Thunder dominate in second half to overcome Student Riders

Worthing Thunder advanced to the NBL Division 1 playoff final after a deserved 76-65 win over Loughborough Student Riders on the Loughborough University campus on Saturday afternoon.

In a game of two halves, crucially, Worthing’s time came in the third and fourth quarter where they came back from a ten-point deficit to take their first lead early in the third and despite a couple of lead changes throughout, Thunder were always in control of a physical contest.

Marquis Mathis led Worthing with 28 points with Zaire Taylor adding 21 and Brendan Okoronkwo posting a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“In the half-time team talk, I reminded the guys of their overall experience and what they have accomplished playing at high levels and how to use every inch of that going into the third quarter against a team that I feel can crumble under pressure,” said Coach D, who reaches a playoff final in his first season in charge said afterwards.

“We were a little flustered in the first half and we let Loughborough play their game but when we came out for the third, we were dominant and we played to our strengths and even though not everyone scored, everyone played a vital role in this win.”

Former Worthing Thunder forward Max Richardson along with Alex Roberts led Loughborough with 13 points. Former Thunder forward Hosana Kitenge amassed nine points.

Mathis scored Thunder’s first seven points in an intense opening where the referees let a lot of contact go. The hosts though got their first opening during the mid-way point as back-to-back three-pointers from Lucien Christofis and a rare triple from Kitenge gave the Riders a 17-9 lead, forcing Coach D to call a timeout. Thunder, thanks to Okoronkwo recovered but a deep three off the backboard from Richardson handed the Student Riders a 23-18 lead after one.

A further three-pointer from Roberts extended the home team’s lead before foul shots from Mathis and a first bucket of the game from Taylor put Thunder to within two points. The Student Riders responded with a 9-0 run to put them up by double-digits for the first time. Worthing responded with a 7-0 run themselves but the hosts had their noses in front 40-37 at the half.

The break in play helped Thunder as quick buckets by Mathis and Okoronkwo handed Worthing their first lead of the game. The Student Riders were rocked as the momentum was with Thunder as they led for the majority of the quarter. Loughborough, who were making basic errors to start the period came back into the game and a late spurt led by Kitenge narrowed the visitors’ lead to 58-56.

A three-point play by Taylor to begin the fourth was the start of a game-changing 6-0 run that gave Thunder a 64-56 lead and despite a brief spell by the hosts, Mathis and Jorge Ebanks handed Worthing their first double-digit lead at 68-58, which ultimately sealed the game and a spot in the NBL Division 1 playoff final in Manchester.

Thunder ready for Student Riders showdown

Worthing Thunder heads into Saturday’s NBL Division 1 playoff semi-final against Loughborough Student Riders full of confidence, as they bid to reach the final for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

No doubt, it’ll be a tough encounter for Coach D and his team as they face the newly crowned Division1 champions who have only lost four times in the league all season.

However one of those four losses came against Worthing at the Leisure Centre back in December as Zaire Taylor scored late on to hand Thunder an 82-80 win.

Loughborough exacted revenge in Thunder’s final away game of the season as they recorded a 91-76 win on their university campus.

“They gave us one of our more physical games at home this season,” said Thunder guard Jorge Ebanks, who missed their recent game with a groin injury, which he has since recovered from.

“It was a game that went down to the final possession and at that stage, we were on a high as a team. Since the turn of the year, we have lost some games and a bit of momentum but the playoffs is a new start and we feel like it’s a new season.

“It doesn’t really matter who we face really. We have beaten Loughborough before and they beat us when we were short-handed, which included me so we’ll hopefully be full strength and ready to go.”

Thunder reached the semi-finals by beating Team Northumbria. Loughborough edged Manchester Magic after overtime in their quarter-final tie.

The semi-final clash tips-off on Saturday afternoon at Victory Hall on the Loughborough University campus at 2 pm.

Thunder dial in with 18 three-pointers in win over Team Northumbria

Worthing Thunder advanced to the semi-finals of the NBL Division 1 playoffs thanks to a 98-89 win over Team Northumbria at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Thunder will now travel to Loughborough Student Riders in the next round after they edged past Manchester Magic after overtime.

In a match littered with fouls, Thunder overcame their visitors thanks to deadly three-point shooting. The hosts hit a season-high 18 triples, for 58 percent, which led the way to victory.

Marquis Mathis led Thunder with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds with James Grinham hitting eight three-pointers for a 24-point haul, and it was the latter who came alive down the stretch to ensure Worthing’s passage to the next round.

“You could tell from the start just by the atmosphere and how both teams came out that this was a playoff game,” said Grinham afterwards. “For us, we’ve been waiting for the playoffs for a while and all week we’ve been locked in on this game as we knew that if we slipped up that would be our season over so we’re pleased to overcome a strong team in Team Northumbria.”

This season’s club MVP Brendan Okoronkwo picked up the night’s Barkers Tarring MVP award with 22 points with Jorge Ebanks flirting with a triple-double as he picked up 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

“This was an intense match but all playoff games are going to be like this as it’s the best teams going at it,” said Okoronkwo. “There was not much in it tonight but we did enough to keep Northumbria at bay and I’m happy for the guys that we are still in it.”

Atif Russell led Team Northumbria with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

A very physical opening saw both teams rack up the fouls early on but despite the scrappy nature of the first quarter, Thunder stormed out of the gates as they quickly found their range from distance and a triple from Zaire Taylor gave the hosts a 20-9 lead, forcing Northumbria coach Marc Steutel to call a timeout. The break certainly benefited the visitors as they narrowed the gap to four thanks to eight points straight from Russell but led by Grinham, Worthing kept their composure to lead 26-21 after the first.

Worthing were able to keep their noses in front in the second quarter as Okoronkwo caught fire from three-point land and a further basket inside from Thunder’s captain restored their double-digit lead at 48-38. The visitors, guided by Malcolm Smith made the latter stages of the second interesting but Worthing took a 54-48 lead into the break.

The hosts held the visitors scoreless for the first three minutes of the third as Thunder retained their double-digit lead. Team Northumbria once again narrowed the gap, but that was followed by a scoring outburst from Mathis, who scored eight points in quick succession to hand Worthing a 73-60 lead, eventually settling for a 77-65 cushion after three.

Despite pressure from the visitors in the early stages of the fourth, Thunder managed to keep them at bay with Grinham having the last word with three triples in the final period to ice the game.

Thunder prepare for first home playoff encounter in six years against Team Northumbria

Worthing Thunder captain Brendan Okoronkwo admits that Team Northumbria will be a much different opposition to the one that they faced in the regular season.

This is because of the added pressure of the playoffs, where Thunder are making their first showing since the 2014-15 season where they lost 92-83 in the quarter-finals to the Derby Trailblazers.

Okoronkwo was in that squad on that night and wants this season’s team to go even further as the road to Manchester begins.

“We’re taking the playoffs one game at a time, and if we don’t prepare for this specific threat then our post-season will be over quick,” said Okoronkwo.

“Playoff games always come with added pressure, which is why our home court and fans will play a big part in helping us handle the occasion.”

Thunder ended the NBL Division 1 campaign in fourth place and Team Northumbria in fifth.

Both teams split the season series but it was Worthing who claimed the head-to-head as their win at home was greater than Northumbria’s at Sport Central.

Thunder’s first home playoff game since 2012 tips-off at 7:30 pm on Saturday at the Worthing Leisure Centre. The winners will face either Loughborough Student Riders or Manchester Magic in the semi-finals.

Thunder players honoured at end of season awards

Worthing Thunder Basketball Club held its traditional end of season awards following the team’s win over Manchester Magic on Saturday night.

Brendan Okoronkwo captured two awards including Players Player of the Year and the season’s Player of the Year.

“It’s a great honour to be named for two awards, it means a lot to me,” Okoronkwo said. “It was amazing just to be named as team captain at the start of the season but to be named MVP by both the players and fans is incredible.”

Okoronkwo was one of the very few that remained from last season’s squad and admits that the basketball club still has a long way to go, but they are going the right way.

“I have learned that change is good and I think we as a club needed to hit the reset button,” he said. “I have been here for five, six years and we have got a home court game in the playoffs, and I feel that we can only get better.”

Zaire Taylor, who averaged 25.7 points a game this season along with leading Thunder with 34 points and 10 assists in the win over Manchester, claimed the Director’s Player of the Year with James Grinham deservedly scooping the Coach’s Player of the Year.

“I am surprised but really blessed and honoured,” said Grinham. “This team has changed a lot this season and a number of us have had to change our roles within the team, but I have enjoyed every minute of being in a Thunder vest and I’m blessed to get this award.”

Thunder clinch home court in playoffs after Magic win

Worthing Thunder were made to sweat but secured home-court advantage in the first round of the NBL Division 1 playoffs by beating Manchester Magic 103-95 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

As a result, Thunder have finished in fourth place in the NBL Division 1 table and will face fifth-placed Team Northumbria in the first round of the playoffs next week.

Zaire Taylor led Thunder in victory with 34 points and 10 assists, with James Grinham draining six triples on his way to 18 points as Thunder were once again without guard Jorge Ebanks.

“It was important for us to get the win tonight and stay at home for next week,” said Grinham afterwards. “Obviously without Jorge, we had to step up and we’re happy with how we played.”

Marquis Mathis added a second straight double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds with Tom Ward playing all 40 minutes, en route to 13 points.

Stefan Gill hit eight three-pointers as he led Manchester with 34 points.

Thunder raced out to a quick 9-0 lead before the visitors got off the mark with a three-point play from Ryan Lewis. A three from Ward followed by another long-range jumper from Mathis gave Worthing their first double-digit lead at 15-3 and apart from a minor blip half-way through the first, the hosts maintained a comfortable 34-25 lead, where they hit six three-pointers out of ten attempts.

Taylor retained Worthing’s double-digit lead and it was the duo of Grinham and Mathis who preserved the double-digit cushion before Manchester cut the deficit thanks to a 6-0 burst, led by veteran Gill. However, Taylor was able to put more breathing space between his side and Magic as they went into the break, 56-48 to the good.

Lee Goldsborough narrowed the gap to six points to start the third quarter as Magic threatened to close in on Thunder’s lead. Taylor though single-handedly kept Worthing ahead as he scored 13 points in the period to give Thunder a 76-68 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Worthing though were rattled early in the final quarter as a 6-0 start from Thunder made it a two-point game before Mathis ended Manchester’s spell with a basket. The visitors tried to keep in touch but late three-pointers from Grinham settled the game and ensured Worthing would stay at home in the first round of the playoffs.

Thunder look to tame Magic in regular season finale

For Worthing Thunder, the plan on Saturday is simple: Beat Manchester Magic in their final NBL Division 1 encounter at the Worthing Leisure Centre.

This rearranged fixture will be the only game played in the league as it is the only one left to be played following the postponement due to severe weather in early March.

For Magic, their fate is confirmed as they have finished in eighth place and will travel to top-seeded Loughborough Student Riders in the first round of the playoffs.

But for Thunder, they simply need to beat Manchester on Saturday to finish fourth and secure home-court advantage in the first round, where they would face Team Northumbria.

If Thunder were to lose to the Magic then they would end up in fifth where they travel to Newcastle themselves to face Team Northumbria.

“We have a great home record, you could say we have made the Worthing Leisure Centre a fortress, but none of that matters on the day of the game,” said Coach D.

“Manchester are a strong team that are very well coached and will capitalise on any mistake you make so we will have to be on our guard in order to get the win.”

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

   

Thunder breeze past Kent in penultimate league game

A clinical Worthing Thunder eased to a 74-55 win over Kent Crusaders at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Thunder led from start-to-finish in a dominant display that saw their lead peak at 30 points. One positive for Coach D and his side was defence, which he highlighted as a positive after the game.

“It was a step in the right direction,” Coach D said. “Our help-side defence was brilliant when at times this season, it’s been a bit suspect and everyone contributed but saying that Kent were a depleted team, missing players and their head coach too so we had to stay professional and get the job done.”

Marquis Mathis led Thunder with a double-double of 20 points and 20 rebounds, which saw him claim the Barkers Tarring MVP award. Zaire Taylor added 15 points with Brendan Okoronkwo getting a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Tom Ward also got in on the scoring with 14 points for a Thunder team that were themselves without Jorge Ebanks and James Grinham.

“Happy with the win and happy that it was a total team performance,” said Mathis afterwards. “We were comfortable with every possession we had, we felt good about ourselves and we need one more win to stay at home for the playoffs, which we want because we love playing in front of our home fans.”

Micah Savery-Richards led Kent with a game-high 22 points.

Thunder got off to a solid start as an early three from Ward gave the hosts a 10-3 lead. Worthing’s patient defence led to easy scores at the other end as they built a sizable advantage. The visiting Crusaders threatened briefly but Worthing enjoyed a 24-14 cushion after the first quarter.

Worthing scored the final two buckets of the first quarter, and they carried on for a 13-0 burst, bridging to the second quarter to give the home side a 33-14 lead. A 7-0 run later on in the period, guided by Taylor handed Worthing a 46-22 lead, and Thunder settled for a 48-25 cushion at the half.

Mathis, who grabbed 11 rebounds in the first two quarters, got his double-double, two minutes into the third with a score inside, as Worthing’s lead grew to 30 points in a very one-sided period until Caleb Fuller took matters into his own hand to single-handedly instigate a 6-0 run for Kent, but Thunder still led 65-40 after three.

The Crusaders began to take advantage of missed Worthing opportunities to narrow the gap to 19 points. But Thunder, now regularly rotating the bench kept the visitors at bay, led by Mathis as the eased to the win, leaving them with just Manchester left with a win confirming home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Thunder aim for nothing but the W against Kent

Worthing Thunder hosts Kent Crusaders at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday in the penultimate game of the NBL Division 1 regular season as they continue their bid for a top-four place.

Coach D’s men need to win their remaining two games in order to stand a chance of securing home court in the first round of the playoffs, but any kind of slip up could mean a potential road game against Team Northumbria in the opening game of the post-season.

However, Coach D is not focusing on the Newcastle-based side, but rather Saturday’s opponents Kent Crusaders, who have nothing but pride to play for as their season winds down until September.

The last time the two teams locked horns, Thunder came away with a hard-fought 84-73 win at Barking Abbey School as Zaire Taylor led the winners with 30 points.

“Kent are a young, hungry side that plays every possession as if it’s their last,” says Coach D. 

“They will challenge us in every aspect so we can’t get caught up with events elsewhere, otherwise Kent could catch us out. It’s vital that we remain focused on the task at hand.” 

Saturday’s game promises to be an exciting night’s entertainment with the game tipping off at 7:30 pm. But before that, there will be a special junior game between Worthing Thunder and Sussex Bears that gets underway at 5 pm. There is also an appearance by dance troupe Visual Poets.

Second chance points hurt Thunder in loss to Student Riders

Worthing Thunder battled in the fourth quarter but ultimately lost out to Loughborough Student Riders 91-75 on the Loughborough University campus on Sunday afternoon.

Trailing 78-56 at the end of three quarters of play, Thunder were struggling. But they fought their way back into contention, narrowing the gap to 12 points at one point. However, the Student Riders held Worthing at bay for the remainder as they consolidate top spot in NBL Division 1.

Thunder, despite a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds from Zaire Taylor were undone in rebounds and second-chance opportunities as the Riders outrebounded Worthing 48-34 and conceded 21 second-chance points.

Brendan Okoronkwo posted 21 points and Marquis Mathis added 20 in a day to forget for Worthing who were without starting point guard Jorge Ebanks, who had a groin problem.

“Credit to Loughborough today, they executed really well and spread the ball around so that everyone got good looks and defensively they were strong, they jammed the paint making it hard for us to get good looks,” Coach D said afterwards.

“We had moments where we played good basketball but we were not consistent enough at both ends, whereas they were and they got the job done.”

Former BAHSVIC student Lucien Christofis led Loughborough with 19 points. Former Thunder players Max Richardson and Hosana Kitenge put up 12 and four points, respectively.

Both teams traded buckets as Loughborough’s inside presence was matched by Worthing’s mix of individual drives to the hoop and three-point execution. However, the hosts used their quickness to gain numerous second-chance opportunities and a triple from Taylor was met with an 8-0 run from the Student Riders allowing them to build into a 29-16 lead after one.

Thunder were slow to get out of the blocks in the second quarter as Student Riders’ lead ballooned to 39-19 thanks to a score from Sesan Russell. Worthing though gradually chipped away at the deficit, slowly getting more and more stops guided by Okoronkwo and as time expired at the end of the half, Taylor drained a step-back jumper to narrow Loughborough’s lead to 53-44.

The hosts though scored the first eight points of the third quarter, led by Richardson. Okoronkwo hit back but for Thunder - nothing was falling - as Loughborough’s lead increased once again as they headed into the fourth quarter 78-56 ahead with the visitors, having it all to do.

Worthing though were not letting the giant task overcome them. Led by Taylor and Mathis, they narrowed the gap to 82-70 thanks to a lay-up by the latter with 4:20 to go. But despite renewed belief, Thunder couldn’t add much more to their total, as Loughborough came away with the spoils.

Guided by captain Brendan, Thunder see-off stubborn Trailblazers

Worthing Thunder defeated Derby Trailblazers 81-74 in a physical NBL Division 1 battle at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

Once the game began, 40 minutes later than the originally planned time of 7:30 pm due to Derby being stuck in traffic, Thunder gained the upper hand early but were constantly pegged back by a stubborn Trailblazers outfit who took the lead in the fourth quarter, but guided by captain Brendan Okoronkwo, Thunder regained the advantage and sealed the win.

“It was a funny game,” Coach D said afterwards. “I’m glad we came away with the win in the end but we were made to work hard. We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we could have but we made our run in the end and it gives us momentum heading into tomorrow’s trip against Loughborough.”

Okoronkwo led Thunder with 27 points, shooting 73 percent from the field, good enough for the Barkers Tarring MVP award. Zaire Taylor added 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals with Jorge Ebanks amassing 11 points and five steals.

Kadeem Thompson led Derby with 18 points.

Thunder understandably took advantage of a Derby team that only had 20 minutes to warm-up and pressed them for the majority of the first quarter. And the press worked at the start as they scored in transition and off numerous Trailblazers turnovers. However, Thompson was on fire for the visitors as he scored his team’s first 11 points to tied the scores at 11-11. Worthing though had the lead at the end of the first at 24-18 thanks to Taylor scoring near the end of the buzzer.

Worthing carried on where they left off to start the second as they scored the first three baskets of the quarter to lead 31-18. The Trailblazers though settled into their rhythm as they scored inside to keep the deficit to ten points. A score from Tom Ward followed by a basket inside from Josh Goddard though gave the hosts a 48-37 lead at the break.

Coach D though was forced to call a timeout just a couple of minutes into the third quarter as a triple from Matt Ward-Hibbert reduced the gap to single figures at 50-43. The timeout though had no effect as Derby attacked the basket and found the basket as well with a score from Leome Francis narrowing the gap to just a point. Scores from Marquis Mathis and Taylor though made sure that the hosts had a two-shot lead after three quarters at 65-61.

That four-point lead though was wiped out by Francis, who scored back-to-back to hand the visitors their first lead since the first period. Thunder though responded with a game-changing 12-3 run to give them the lead at 81-72, which they would not relinquish.

Thunder ready for vital double-header weekend

Worthing Thunder heads into this weekend’s double-header against Derby Trailblazers and Loughborough Student Riders aiming to secure home court for the NBL Division 1 playoffs.

Thunder dropped out of the top four last week, with an overtime loss on the road to Bradford Dragons. It was their seventh loss of the season and Coach D says that his side cannot afford any more slip-ups in the final few weeks of the campaign.

“It's absolutely imperative that we win out for the rest of the season if we want to have home court advance in the playoffs,” Coach D said. “We have to do a better job in keeping focused in the second half of the game.”  

Coach D admitted that his side needs to tighten up defensively ahead of this weekend’s double-header where they host the Trailblazers, who currently ranks second from bottom in the NBL Division 1 followed by a road trip to Loughborough University to take on the Student Riders, who are chasing for the title along with Solent Kestrels. 

Thunder have beaten both sides in the league this season. Easing their way to a 92-81 win in Derby followed a week later with a thrilling 82-80 victory against the Student Riders at the Worthing Leisure Centre. 

Coach D though doesn’t want any lapses, defensively ahead of the two crucial clashes. 

“Our defence hasn't been great this season, we've had so many lapses on that side of the ball,” said Coach D. “As a unit, we have to stick to our principles and be unified. That's the only chance to win, at any level, secure home court, win the rest of games, win the playoffs. We have to play together on the defensive end of the floor.” 

Thunder tip-off their weekend against Derby at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night at 7:30 pm, with the trip to Loughborough on Sunday beginning at 2 pm. 

Thunder edged out by Bradford in OT

Worthing Thunder lost a heartbreaker 127-126 to Bradford Dragons after an intense period of overtime in an NBL Division 1 clash at Bradford College on Saturday evening.

In an exhilarating, high-scoring encounter, Worthing had their chances to get the win in regulation, but with no time on the clock, Zaire Taylor took the game to overtime with free throws. And with the Dragons leading the final seconds of the extra session thanks to foul shots from Disraeli Lufadeju, Thunder had the last possession.

But Taylor’s drive to the basket seemed to cut off by a sea of Bradford players which forced Taylor’s shot to be off-balanced. No foul was called by the referees as time expired.

Taylor led Thunder with 37 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Marquis Mathis added 26 with Brendan Okoronkwo getting 24 but the loss has no doubt put a massive dent in Worthing’s hopes of a top-three place, especially as Team Northumbria beat Derby Trailblazers earlier in the day.

“It was a crushing loss,” said Coach D. “We had a few times to ice the game but our defence let us down and to give Bradford credit, they hit some remarkable shots. This loss cost us a top-two finish in the table so we have to dig deep to hold on to home court advantage in the playoffs.”

Marcus Gooding and Rihard Sulcs both had 34 points to lead Bradford.

The first quarter was free flowing with both teams scoring quickly. Thunder broke clear first as a three-pointer from Mathis gave the visitors an 11-5 lead in the first two minutes of the period. Bradford hit back, but led by Taylor and Mathis, Worthing maintained their lead and they maintained it throughout the opening ten minutes where they took a 32-29 lead.

The second period was slightly more of a tighter affair but despite it being closely-fought, both teams found no problems in putting the ball in the hoop. Gooding quickly tied the game up at 32-32 with a three-pointer, and Gooding again struck from distance to give his side the lead. Okoronkwo though levelled matters with a triple of his own.

Both teams played tug-of-war with the lead throughout the second, but Thunder held their own, holding a slender 58-55 advantage thanks to 19 points from Taylor.

Thunder kept hold of their lead and Okoronkwo stretched the advantage to six points in the first minutes of the third. But the hosts stepped up the gears and a score from Lufadeju gave Dragons a 74-73 lead. Jorge Ebanks momentarily handed the visitors pole position again, but Bradford simply couldn’t miss from the field, and at the end of the third, Worthing trailed 94-85.

However, Worthing clawed their way back in the fourth quarter, despite trailing for the majority of it. They levelled the game up late on, but the overtime session was to be in favour of Bradford, even though Taylor had the chance to win it at the end.

Thunder in relaxed mood ahead of Bradford trip

Having an unexpected week off following the postponement of the Manchester Magic game last Saturday, some Worthing Thunder players have been relaxing ahead of this weekend’s clash at the Bradford Dragons.

While for most, it’s been business as usual in terms of getting mentally and physically prepared for a vital NBL Division 1 game on the road, Brendan Okoronkwo and Jorge Ebanks have chosen a slightly different path.

The week off has allowed extra time for both players to take in sights around other parts of Europe as Ebanks and Okoronkwo both visited the Italian capital of Rome for a mini holiday to recharge the batteries.

“It’s been a great week away and it’s been nice to recharge the batteries,” said Okoronkwo.

“I’m feeling refreshed and feeling great ahead of the long trip to Bradford, they’re a difficult team and we will be ready for them.”

The last time Worthing and Bradford met Zaire Taylor, exploded for 36 points and 12 rebounds as Thunder scored a narrow 93-87 win in early December.

Tip-off is on Saturday evening at Bradford College, tip-off is at 6:15 pm. 

Statement: Worthing Thunder vs Manchester Magic NEW DATE

Worthing Thunder’s NBL Division 1 home game against Manchester Magic will take place on Saturday, March 31 with the game tipping-off at 7:30 pm.

The game was scheduled to take place last Saturday but it was called off due to the severe weather, which prevented Manchester Magic from travelling.

Thunder-Magic postponed

Worthing Thunder Basketball Club regrets to inform its fans that tonight’s NBL Division 1 clash against Manchester Magic has been postponed.

This is due to the adverse weather conditions that are happening around the country at the present time, with the Manchester Magic team concerned about conditions en route to the south coast and especially travelling back up north after the game has concluded.

We also regret to inform you that the pre-game coaching clinic has also been cancelled.

Anyone who has pre-paid their tickets for tonight’s game can contact the club at and they can be used for the re-arranged game, which we will announce in due course.

Thunder look to bolster top four hopes with win over Manchester

With five games remaining until the end of the NBL Division 1 season, Worthing Thunder’s goal is a top-four finish, as they get ready to host Manchester Magic on Saturday. 

Thunder have won two games in a row with wins over Hemel Storm and last week away to Lancashire Spinners with those wins securing a spot in the NBL Division 1 Playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season. 

However, Coach D and his group are aiming for home-court advantage in the Playoffs, something that Thunder have not achieved since they returned to the National League from the British Basketball League in 2011. 

“We are striving to keep the pressure on the teams above, securing home court and bettering our brand of basketball as we enter the post season,” Coach D said. 

“I think it’s mathematically impossible to fall out of playoffs at this point but we still have a long way to go to achieve our full potential.” 

The two teams met up in Manchester back in November, with Thunder winning 98-83, their first away win of the season, which came part of the seven-game unbeaten run they enjoyed until January 13, when Thunder lost to Leicester Warriors. 

Despite the comfortable win in the north-west over the Magic, who are fighting for a spot in the post-season, Zaire Taylor warned the team that they can’t overlook anybody, especially during this stage of the season. 

“I don't think we're a team that can overlook anybody,” Taylor said. “We've shown we can lose to anybody as easily as we can beat anybody so we just need to make sure we take care of each game one at a time, and the only thing that matters is the one in front of us.” 

Thunder’s game against Manchester Magic tips-off at 7:30 pm at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night. 

Strong third quarter sees Thunder ease past Spinners

Worthing Thunder used a strong third quarter to record a convincing 106-75 win over NBL Division 1 basement side Lancashire Spinners at Castle Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon.

After taking a comfortable 51-40 lead at the half, Thunder put the game out of reach in the third by holding Lancashire to just six points, as their 11-point lead ballooned to 81-46, heading into the final period, sealing the win.

Worthing moves into third with the win as Team Northumbria were involved in the National Trophy final today.

Jorge Ebanks led a balanced scoring effort with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Marquis Mathis posted 24 points and 14 rebounds with James Grinham adding 17.

Zaire Taylor secured the first triple-double of the season as he amassed 13 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.

“It was so good to get that game out of the way,” Ebanks said afterwards.

“That type of game is always difficult because it’s all about your team. Do you play down to their level or do you play up to yours? But we played professionally as a unit and we’re glad we got the win.”

Harold Trobo led Spinners with 24 points. 

Brendan Okoronkwo and Ebanks scored Thunder’s first nine points in a scrappy start where they were never really able to break away early as the first quarter was closely-fought. Worthing led by as many as six points, thanks to a lay-up from Okoronkwo but the Spinners fought back to narrow the visitors’ lead to 27-25. 

The hosts maintained the pressure in the second quarter, and it paid off, four minutes into the period as a score from Trobo gave them a 34-33 lead. However, the narrow advantage did not last long as Worthing raced clear with a 14-0 run, which turned into a 51-40 lead at the break. 

But it was the third period where Worthing asserted their true dominance as they shut down the Spinners while going down the other end and scoring freely. Ebanks and Grinham were the main inspirations behind Thunder’s surge as they led 81-46 heading into the fourth. 

Luke Attfield scored the first points of the fourth quarter as it peaked at a 39-point cushion in what turned out to be a routine win, despite the slow start in the first quarter.

Thunder look to pile on the losses on strugglers Lancashire

Worthing Thunder faces a potential banana skin on Sunday afternoon as they travel to the north-west to square-off against NBL Division 1’s bottom side Lancashire Spinners.

Thunder come into Sunday’s clash on the back of a narrow 78-72 win over Hemel Storm, which secures the head-to-head between the two teams should the final league standings be decided by that when the regular season concludes.

They face a Spinners side that looks set for relegation following a winless league run of 18 games. However, Coach D is still not going to take them lightly, especially at this important stage of the NBL Division 1 season.

“Spinners haven’t lost all their games by big margins, they have been close in a lot of them as well and chances are they will have their full squad too so we can’t take anything for granted,” Coach D said.

“I want us to play with pride, professionalism and discipline on the day. I don’t want to be that first team that lost to Lancashire this season. It’s important that we focus on our strengths and play together.”

It’s just the one game this weekend for Thunder whereas the Spinners will play a double-header at home with playoff-chasing Leicester Warriors visiting Bury, the night before Worthing.

Thunder’s clash against Lancashire tips-off at 3:45 pm on Sunday afternoon at the Castle Leisure Centre.

Thunder overcome Hemel to secure head-to-head

Worthing Thunder climbed back up to third place in the NBL Division 1 table as they defeated Hemel Storm 78-72 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

In a good night’s work for Thunder, as not only did they take advantage of Team Northumbria’s loss at Reading Rockets earlier tonight, but they also secure the head-to-head over Hemel with a greater winning margin.

Brendan Okoronkwo led Thunder with 21 points and eight rebounds. Jorge Ebanks added 17 with five steals and Marquis Mathis collected a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds.

“It was scrappy tonight but a win is a win, that’s all that matters to us, especially at this stage of the season,” said Okoronkwo, who collected Barkers Tarring MVP honours in the win.

“Being truthful, our gameplan wasn’t exactly executed how we wanted it to be tonight, but we bonded together as a team and pulled it out against a very strong Hemel side.”

“We had to switch it up a bit tonight,” Coach D explained afterwards. “We are trying to implement a few things so we’re adjusting. However, we needed a win tonight and now we need to string together some wins as we are entering a vital stage in the season.

“We have the head-to-head now over Hemel which could prove vital, so we’re in good form now heading into next week’s trip to Lancashire.”

Bode Adeluola led Hemel with 18 points.

Both teams went inside early as Okoronkwo had four quick points to give Thunder an early 6-2 lead. Hemel hit back as neither team was having much luck from three-point land. Worthing enjoyed the lead for the majority of the opening exchanges, however, the visitors answered back with back-to-back baskets by Courtney Van-Beest to give the Storm a narrow lead only for Josh Goddard to score, tying the scores at 24-24 at the end of the first.

Jack Burnell got the second underway with a three-pointer as the visitors enjoyed the lead for the first few minutes of the quarter before a quickfire 6-2 run from Thunder gave them the lead back at 32-30. With only one timeout called in the entire first half, both sides looked fatigued, as offences were sloppy, with a lot of missed shots. Despite that, Thunder were able to take a 43-39 advantage at the break. 

And Worthing’s cushion grew in the early stages of the third as a 9-0 run, six of those coming from Ebanks handed Thunder their first double-digit lead at 57-44, which was ended by a score from Hemel’s AJ Roberts. Worthing though would maintain their double-digit cushion throughout the period to take a 64-54 lead heading into the final quarter. 

Hemel though raced out of the gates in the fourth period, by scoring the opening seven points, which was halted by a corner two from Okoronkwo. Further scores from the Thunder captain along with a three-pointer from James Grinham put the hosts up 73-66 and despite pressure from the visitors, Worthing used up the clock to seal the win.

Worthing looking to overcome the Storm

Worthing Thunder will be looking to take advantage of Hemel Storm’s recent dip in form when they visit in Saturday’s NBL Division 1 clash at the Worthing Leisure Centre.

The two teams have met once this season with Hemel coming away with a 91-89 win in November, with Worthing giving away a ten-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

Since that game though, Worthing have enjoyed a steady surge up the standings with Coach D’s side landing as high as second before losses to Leicester Warriors, Solent Kestrels and more recently Team Northumbria leaving them fourth in the table.

Thunder though will be looking to continue their solid home form this season, which has seen them lose only once in the league all season. And if they defeat the Storm by more than the two points that Hemel beat Worthing by, then the south-coast outfit will own the crucial head-to-head.

Hemel will be coming into this game having suffered two losses in their last three games. Before that, they captured the National Cup by disposing of the Manchester Magic.

Coming off last weekend’s trip to the north-east, where Thunder split their two games, captain Brendan Okoronkwo believes that his team are better on their home floor and that they need to gain momentum, heading into the post-season.

“Building moment in the second half of the season and into the Playoffs is key,” Okoronkwo said.

“We’re a much better team protecting our home court and with Hemel’s recent form after winning the cup, we should have the upper hand going into the weekend.”

Thunder’s NBL Division 1 game against Hemel Storm, tips-off at 7:30pm on Saturday evening.

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