WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club defeated the Manchester Magic 92-78 at the Worthing Leisure Centre in a fast-paced encounter on Saturday night.
Terrell Bell led all scorers for Worthing with a season-high 30 points on 62 per cent shooting and 10 rebounds, as the hosts prevailed over a play-off-bound Manchester side in a physical encounter.
Worthing have two games of the season to go and Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth remains focused on the end-of-season goal.
He said: “At the end of the day, we are disappointed not to find ourselves in a play-off spot so it’s about finishing the season strong.
“I’ve explained that and nothing has changed since. We’ve done the league double over Manchester and I’m happy about that as Manchester are a great, high- energy team.
“Manchester play a very up-tempo game and they try to wear you out for 40 minutes by pushing the ball. Tonight, we matched their pace and executed brilliantly. Terrell was outstanding, as was the team in general.”
Rory Spencer had 14 points, with Bud Johnston adding 12 in a sublime shooting performance by Worthing as they shot 58 per cent from the field and dished out 23 assists to Manchester’s 14.
Bell scored Thunder’s first eight points of the game as Worthing and Manchester were trading baskets early. An 11-0 run mid-way through the first quarter by the hosts gave them a 15-7 lead, highlighted by a one-hand slam from Rory Spencer. Back-to-back three-pointers from Johnston and Tom Ward extended Worthing’s lead to 28-17.
A bucket from Johnston got the second quarter started as Worthing’s lead increased further. A bucket from Manchester’s Thomas Ward and Jack Minister brought it back to single digits before Worthing, led by Bell, raced to a 12-0 run and extend the lead to 48-26.
Magic responded with an 8-0 run in the final minutes of the second before a buzzer-beater from Bell ended the half with Thunder in the driving seat, leading 53-36.
A physically challenging start to the third quarter saw the game’s two referees let a lot go inside in a free-flowing period.
A three-pointer from Spencer put Thunder ahead, 56-39, but Manchester struck back. Back-to-back buckets from Pharroh Gordon narrowed the gap to 60-48 as both teams traded baskets to end the third quarter.
Thunder led 68-56, going into the final ten minutes, and led by Bell, Thunder kept Manchester at bay to record the win, as the south coast side look to finish the season strong.