Mixed fortunes for Thunder in pursuit of play-off place

James Cambronne scored 23 points in Thunder's defeat at Essex.
James Cambronne scored 23 points in Thunder's defeat at Essex.

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club had mixed fortunes in their pursuit of a National League Division 1 play-off place at the weekend.

After a 83-78 victory away to Westminster Warriors on Saturday, Thunder went down 75-62 at Essex Leopards on Sunday.

Thunder are now ninth in the table, six points behind Essex, who occupy the final play-off place and have a game in hand.

Despite a spirited showing on Sunday, a short-handed Worthing team showed fatigue in the final period, which led to 22 turnovers and an extra 30 points for the Leopards from those giveaways.

James Cambronne led Worthing with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Louis Allen hit 13 points and Brendan Okoronkwo added ten.

Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “It was physical and mental fatigue that ultimately played a huge part in the outcome.

“As the game wore on, our decision making on offence and defensive rotations were poor. Back-to-back extremely physical battles took its toll.

“Credit to the guys, though, for not giving up but we simply had nothing left in the tank in the fourth quarter when they had a mini run.”

Only suiting up with eight players, Thunder started the stronger of the two sides but it was Essex who led 19-18 at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts had moved 40-32 ahead by half-time but Thunder still had hope going into the last stanza, 54-51 behind. However, Worthing tired in the last period and Essex eased to victory.

On Saturday at Westminster, Thunder fought back in the last quarter to claim victory.

Thunder held a 20-16 lead at the end of the first quarter but then conceded too many easy points in the second period and the hosts led 40-36 at half-time.

Westminster took a double-digit lead in the early stages of the third at 54-44 before Tom Ward sunk a long jumper and despite a late onslaught to end the third, Thunder still trailed 62-55.

But Worthing never gave in and baskets by Jack Sunderland and Cambronne reduced the deficit to 68-67. Even though the Warriors attempted to keep Thunder at bay, Worthing took the lead at 76-75 thanks to a basket from Sunderland and then never looked back.

Okoronkwo led Thunder with 20 points, supported by Sunderland, who scored 16.

Hildreth said: “As expected, it was a physical high intensity game from start to finish.

“We started well and were executing well on offence. Westminster then raised the tempo and at times we lost our way a little in the second half, but we came together at the right time.”

Thunder entertain Tees Valley Mohawks on Saturday (7.30pm) and then have the long trip to Lancashire Spinners on Sunday (4pm).

Thunder are holding a pre-game coaching clinic before their match with London Lituanica on February 20.

It will take place from 5.30pm to 6.30pm and will be held by Thunder first-team players. The cost is £12 and includes entry to the game.

To reserve a place, call Daniel on 07834 828417.

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