WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club exited the National Trophy at the quarter-final stage at home to Derby Trailblazers on Sunday evening.
Thunder had only arrived home, after their league win away to Derby, at 3.30am on Sunday morning, and Worthing coach Daniel Hildreth admitted that fatigue played a part in the defeat.
He said: “Fatigue played a massive factor. The guys got home at 3.30am and mentally and physically, we were fatigued.
“We had a few guys play a lot of minutes yesterday and we don’t have a deep bench.
“It’s very frustrating. We wanted the opportunity to get to another semi-final but credit to Derby, they found a little bit more in the tank.”
Thunder began brightly, with back-to-back three pointers from Milton Chavis and Dominic Baker to start the match and they finished the first quarter with a 22-18 lead.
Derby began to take control throughout the second stanza as Worthing were kept scoreless for the first five minutes, as the visitors built up a 29-23 lead.
Derby continued to extend their lead throughout the remainder of the quarter, which they won 27-9, to have a 45-31 advantage at half-time.
Thunder started the third period with a 7-2 run but Derby responded strongly throughout the rest of the stanza and led 67-45 with ten minutes to play.
A basket from Derby’s Alex Dorr at the start of the fourth period extended Derby’s lead to 24 points but Thunder showed strong character to continue to chip away at the gap.
They got to within eight points with 90 seconds remaining and Thunder then felt they should have been awarded two free throws when Louis Allen put a shot up and they felt he was fouled.
That could have reduced the deficit to six points but Derby then sank five of six free throws in the closing stages to seal their progress into the last four.
Milton Chavis top-scored with 20 points for Thunder, while Allen sank 17 and Dominic Baker scored 12.
Dorr led all scorers with 21 points for Derby, while Chris Salvoy scored 20 and Raheem May-Thompson 19.
Hildreth added: “When you’re down 24 points with very few minutes on the clock, it’s always going to be a desperate comeback.
“The reality is we’ve put ourselves into situations before where we’ve been able to come back from that sort of a margin, with the calibre of player and shooting we have on the floor and the athletes we have.
“We should have been down by six with a little over a minute to go. It was unfortunate that was not the case and that took it out of our grasp.”
Thunder entertain bottom-of-the-table Newham in the league on Saturday (7.30pm).