Thunder advance into quarter-finals

Louis Allen sank 24 points in Worthing Thunder's win against Kent Crusaders on Sunday '''''''      PICTURE BY ANDRE NICHOLS
Louis Allen sank 24 points in Worthing Thunder's win against Kent Crusaders on Sunday ''''''' PICTURE BY ANDRE NICHOLS
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WORTHING THUNDER Basketball Club advanced into the quarter-finals of the National Cup after a convincing win over Kent Crusaders at Worthing Leisure Centre on Sunday evening.

It was the perfect way for Thunder to bounce back after defeat to Essex Leopards in the league the previous day.

Worthing started strongly but really came to life in the third quarter as a 14-0 run turned a 38-32 half-time deficit into a 46-38 lead midway through the third. From there, Thunder were out of sight.

Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “After a disappointing night in the league it was important on many levels that we bounced back. We came out the blocks firing on all cylinders and opened up a early lead.

“I think the adrenaline wore off as we allowed Kent to not only close the gap but take a lead into the half. I spoke to each of the starters on a personal level before the second half and the whole team took the game to another level.

“We had a sizeable lead going into the fourth and it was a case of hold on to the advantage playing to win rather than not to lose.”

Louis Allen hit six triples on his way to a team-high 24 points. Tom Ward responded to a below-par showing on Saturday with 22 points and five rebounds.

Allen said: “It’s great that after a tough loss we can respond that way and a tough shooting game for me personally last night being able to mentally stay focused, come in the next day and shoot that way is testament to the trust my team mates and coach have in my abilities.”

Thunder started brightly and raced to a 11-2 lead they but allowed Kent to finish the quarter strongly, although the hosts still led 20-15 after one quarter.

Despite a positive opening, Worthing let their guard down and started playing sluggish and static basketball. Crusaders were energetic and deservedly took a 38-32 lead into half-time.

From there, things changed, as the hosts burst out of the blocks with a 14-0 run, holding the Crusaders to just nine points in the third, while Thunder took a 69-47 lead heading into the fourth.

Despite a mini flurry from the visitors, Worthing maintained their lead and ensured a safe passage through to the quarter-finals, where they will host Reading Rockets.

Thunder are at Tees Valley in the league on Saturday (3.30pm) and then play away to Team Northumbria on Sunday (4pm).

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