Worthing Thunder ended their two-game losing streak with a 90-86 victory over Reading Rockets in an NBL Division 1 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

In a closely fought battle, riddled with turnovers, totalling 48 altogether, Thunder edged the well-organised Reading unit to move to maintain their stranglehold of third place while Rockets drop to sixth.

The evergreen Zaire Taylor led Thunder with 28 points and seven steals with Marquis Mathis posting an impressive double-double of 27 points and ten rebounds, good enough for the Barkers Tarring MVP award.

“It was a tough game but we played well as a team and remained focused when they put pressure on us,” said Mathis afterwards.

“Credit to Reading though. During my time with Solent last season, they were so tough and it hasn’t changed. But we wanted to come out and take care of business, this is an important period for us and we need to keeping winning to stay in the title hunt.”

Jorge Ebanks posted 13 points with Josh Goddard taking advantage of his spot in the starting five by getting 11 points.

Ed Potter led Reading with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

After a slow start by both teams, Worthing broke the padlock and thanks to an 8-0 run, opened up a 16-7 lead, highlighted by a dunk from Mathis. Reading though recovered to reduce the deficit, thanks in part to their big man Tim Gill but Thunder still led 24-16 after the first quarter.

Any hopes of Worthing extending the lead were put on hold as Reading charged ahead for the first time in the game thanks to a 12-2 run, mainly due to their ability to get the ball inside for easy scores.  Following a timeout by Coach D, the hosts responded with a 10-0 spurt to restore their advantage to 37-28, eventually settling for a 42-36 cushion at the break.

That six-point lead though was quickly evaporated in the opening two minutes of the third as Reading exploited slack Thunder defence to take a 50-46 lead. However, Worthing recuperated and back-to-back three-pointers from Mathis restored the hosts’ lead at 61-57, forcing Reading coach Manuel Garces to call a timeout. The closely-contested period saw three foul shots by Tom Ward in the last seconds give Thunder a 69-66 lead heading into the final ten minutes.

Rockets though took the initiative in the fourth as they burst out of the blocks with a 9-0 run to take a 75-69 lead. Worthing regrouped later on and a 7-0 run put them back in the lead, which they never relinquished, despite pressure from the visitors.

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