Worthing Thunder miss play-off finals - but it was a brave bid
Worthing Thunder missed out on an appearance in this year's play-off final when they were beaten 95-82 by Hemel Storm in the semi-final.
Thunder came into this play off semi final on a high as, with a seven-game winning streak, they were the form side. However this was to be a game too far as they came up against old rivals Hemel Storm who themselves had been on top form in recent weeks. Despite Thunder giving their all it was the Hertfordshire side who would come out top in another enthralling match.
Early minutes in, the first quarter was a very close affair but as the game progressed the home side got the advantage to close it nine points in front at 24-15. For Thunder Max Richardson again looked the strong player he is as with Howard Crawford - but Thunder struggled under constant Hemel pressure.
The second period saw Thunder dig deep and as the halfway stage approached it was still a close game. Tom Ward was having another big game and with Zaire Taylor as dependable as ever they clawed the deficit back to just seveb points at 43-36. Thunder weren't going to give in easily as every player did their best to combat the strong Hemel play.
The third period again saw Thunder struggling to stay with the home side, Ward was again having a fine game as he continued the form he has had all season. However it was the two American imports who were becoming the stars of the show for Hemel.
Mike Williams and Greg Poleon were showing what they could do, combining for 67 of Hemel's points total. Thunder were having to struggle to keep with the hosts but as the final break arrived the difference was still only nine points (66-57) with victory still a possibility.
The final period finally saw Hemel crack Thunder's resistance pulling into a big lead. Thunder did not give in and rallied as the end of the game approached. Ward had another massive game and along with Crawford, Richardson, Taylor, Ishmael Fontaine and Jack Sunderland refused to capitulate. Hemel eventually took the game by 13 points (95-82) but once again the team can be proud of the performance. Hemel now go forward to the final next Saturday when they play league champions Solent Kestrels.
Despite all the difficulties of the last 12 months Thunder have performed well on court. They now can start to look forward to September when the league will start again (hopefully with crowds). No doubt there will be some new faces along with a majority of this year's crew. Whoever is there you can guarantee that Worthing Thunder will be a major force in the league and with the best fans in the league supporting them the Thunderdome will be rocking once more.
Thunder scorers - Tom Ward 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists. Max Richardson 22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block. Howard Crawford 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block. Zaire Taylor 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals. Jack Sunderland, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals. Ishmael Fontaine 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist.