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.


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