Worthing Thunder Basketball Club is delighted to announce that former BBL MVP Zaire Taylor has joined the team ahead of the 2017-18 NBL Division 1 season.
In preparation for next season, Worthing Thunder Juniors will be holding open trials for next season, welcoming new or returning players.
Worthing Thunder under-14 won the national title as they defeated London Thunder Lewisham 87-72 in the NBL Playoff championship game at Belle Vue on Sunday afternoon.
Cameron Hildreth led Thunder with a game-high 34 points and seven rebounds. Abdou Gaye added a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double for the winners who made it a double winning weekend for the Worthing Thunder junior program.
Saul Iwowo led London in defeat with 13 points.
Like their under-16s before them, Worthing fell behind early but responded in the second quarter as a basket by Cameron Hildreth tied the score at 24-24 and even though the London side regained the lead, Worthing were close behind. A score by Josh Hicklebottom gave the Thunder the lead, which grew to double-digits at the half.
Worthing’s momentum carried onto the third quarter where they led by as many as 16 points thanks a score from Hicklebottom. However, Lewisham finished the quarter strong, narrowing the deficit to single digits at the end of the period. Worthing still enjoyed a 63-55 advantage heading into the fourth.
Worthing though quickly restored their ten-point lead early in the last period thanks to a bucket by Hildreth and from there; Worthing’s lead remained in double-digits as the boys from London fatigued.
Worthing Thunder under-16 boys became national champions after they beat the Haringey Hawks 80-68 in the NBL Playoff final at Belle Vue on Sunday lunchtime.
Leonard Musahl led Thunder with 17 points and 11 rebounds as he shot 73 percent from the field with Hosana Kitenge adding 16 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks and five assists which was good for the MVP award.
The season ends with a trophy as well as a joint regular season best record of 19-3, which a testament to the enthusiasm and commitment to the Thunder junior program.
Spyridon Kapsalos led all scorers with 39 points for Haringey but he had little support as he was the only Hawks player in double figures.
After trailing 19-18 at the conclusion of the first quarter, Thunder found their rhythm in the following period as a score by Musahl handed Worthing the lead. Both teams wrestled with that lead in the early stages until a three from Blaize Sagna gave Thunder a 29-27 lead, which they would not relinquish.
Despite narrowing the gap and gaining momentum Haringey trailed 53-51 after three quarters. But Worthing showed tremendous professionalism and with 4:52 left, a triple from Lewis Jee gave Thunder a double-digit lead and from there, the lead peaked at 16 securing a title-winning victory.
Worthing Thunder’s under-14 and under-16 boys teams have made their respective Playoff finals after picking up deserving victories at Belle Vue in Manchester.
The under 14 boys got off to a good start and never looked back as they comfortably dismissed the challenge of City of Birmingham 99-72.
Leading 26-18 after the first quarter, Thunder’s lead grew as the second quarter progressed as they took a comfortable 49-34 cushion and their opponents were unable to mount a comeback.
Cameron Hildreth exploded for 37 points to lead Thunder.
Worthing will play London Thunder Lewisham in the final on Sunday.
The under-16 boys overcame the Newham Youngbloods 62-52 to set up a final with the Haringey Hawks tomorrow.
Leading 19-11 after the first quarter, Worthing’s lead shrunk to just two points at the half as they struggled to pull away from a physical Newham side. In the end, Worthing finally broke through in the fourth as the Youngbloods defensive power weakened for good.
Blaize Sagna paced the winners with 16 points, supported by 13 from Hosana Kitenge.
Now that the season has reached its conclusion Worthing Thunder will be starting their search for a new coach.
Club Chairman Frank Gainsbury said:-
“After another disappointing season, we now embark on the work to find and appoint a new high-calibre coach. The Club’s position in the league has declined steadily year-on-year over the last five campaigns - in every season during this period we have never won more league games than we have lost. This season we only managed to avoid relegation in the last few weeks of the season as a consequence of the results and performances of other teams around us. This is not a position with which we should be satisfied. Worthing Thunder is one of the best organised teams in the league with great supporters and an amazing workforce of volunteers that contribute to the successful running of the club and provide one of the best match-night experiences in the league. In addition, we have a well-supported junior organisation which continues to find and develop young players bringing them through to play at the highest level in our senior team and beyond. For these players to reach their full potential it is essential that they are regularly engaged with the senior end of the organisation.
Whilst it is always gratifying to hear favourable comments about our organisation from other clubs and indeed Basketball England, quite frankly Worthing Thunder and it’s supporters deserve the team to be more successful than it has been over the past few years. Appointing a new head coach is part of the process needed to improve our club and to strive for more success on court.
We have had many expressions of interest in regard to the vacant head coach's post and we will take our time to carefully assess and appoint the right candidate, ensuring amongst other things, that they are fully involved with and to continue to develop the Junior Organisation and the schools and community coaching programmes in and around Sussex
I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the army of volunteers and in particular the Supporters Club without whom the club would simply not exist.
We are enthusiastically looking forward to a new season when I hope we will be able to strengthen our playing squad, welcome back many of our current team and strive for greater success”.