WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club never trailed as they won 65-59 at Tees Valley Mohawks in EBL Division 1 on Saturday.
Despite a fourth quarter collapse, it was a good evening’s shift for Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth and his side, who were without Bud Johnston owing to personal commitments and Julian Stanley, but they were buoyed by Tomas Seduikis’ return from a wrist injury.
Hildreth knows the importance of this win, as Thunder play seven of their last eight league games at Worthing Leisure Centre, with the lone road game at Essex Leopards.
Hildreth said: “It was a great result for us today.
“We knew we were coming to a very difficult place to play and win. Our defence was sensational in the first half as we held Tees Valley to just 19 points. We knew that a low scoring game would be to our advantage and that’s what we got.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we were fatigued and we were unable to convert our chances but once they tied the game we came up with some defensive stops and were happy to seal the game from the foul line.”
Terrell Bell led the scoring for Thunder with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Tom Ward had 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
Jorge Ebanks led all scorers in vain for the Mohawks with 27 points.
With his only bucket of the evening, Seduikis hit a triple to get the game going for Thunder, and they raced into a 7-1 lead midway through the first quarter.
It took the Mohawks nearly six minutes to register a field goal due to Thunder’s intense defensive effort and, at the end of the first quarter, Worthing led 18-8.
Thunder built on their advantage in the second stanza and led 38-19 at half-time.
Hildreth used the game to rotate his bench as everyone got more minutes and it worked as the third quarter wore on. It did take three minutes, though, for either team to register any points but Rory Spencer scored inside to give the visitors a 40-19 lead and, as the third came to a close, Hildreth’s side were up 56-38 and cruising.
Thunder’s commanding position was then under threat in the final period. Tees Valley picked up the pace and found a second wind. They started the fourth on a 13-0 run and two free throws from Ebanks tied the game at 58-58, as Thunder looked to find some inspiration.
Ward put them back in front and, from there, the fright was over and Worthing were able to seal the game from the free-throw line to get a vital win.
Worthing entertain Leicester Warriors on Saturday (7.30pm) and then host Team Northumbria on Sunday (5pm).