Thunder bounce back with double-win weekend

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WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club bounced straight back from the previous Saturday’s defeat to net both a EBL Cup and Trophy victory at the weekend.

Head coach Gary Smith had called for an improvement in his side after they fell to a 79-75 trophy defeat at home to Brixton Topcats, and that is just what his side provided over the weekend.

They were buoyed by new signing Vinnie Darpino, whose late five points led Thunder to a 79-78 trophy win over Westminster Warriors on Saturday night.

Thunder then put away lower league Plymouth Marjon 87-76 on Sunday to advance to the third round of the National Cup, and make it two wins in two days.

Marcus Tullis led the scores on both nights, on Saturday with 28 points and 10 rebounds, before hitting 27 points and nine rebounds. on Sunday.

Smith said: “It was a good win, but make no mistake, we are still learning, but there were a lot of good things.

“Defensively, it was nice especially in the second half to get some stops down the stretch and at the same time execute on the offensive end.

“Our free-throw shooting wasn’t good enough and it is most definitely something to work on, but overall, we’re getting there and I’m happy that we’ve come away with two wins and we can take a lot out these two performances.”

Westminster had a 78-74 lead with 15 seconds left on Saturday before Darpino’s five sealed the win.

Without leading scorer Courtney Small available, Tullis led the way, supported by Chris Talley who hit 16 points, along with Darpino’s 14.

After a first-quarter tussel, Westminster led 21-16 at the break, and were still ahead at 45-40 at the half-way point.

The home side went into the final quarter with a four-point lead at 59-55, and despite trailing for the first nine minutes and 56 seconds of the fourth period, Darpino proved invaluable and sealed the victory.

Smith said: “Westminster played hard, but we dug deep and pulled it out in the end. The final three minutes was the key for us, we were tough, we forced Warriors into turnovers and Vinnie showed great poise to hit the last five points.

“For a guy that arrived in the country just short of a week ago, that was clutch.”

Again led by Tullis on Sunday, in an afternoon tip-off at the University of Chichester Thunder saw off Plymouth in a scrappy match.

Small returned to the side and sealed 18 points, ably assisted by captain James Brame with 12.

Small, Brame and Adam Martin took charge of the game in the first quarter to set up a 22-14 lead, but Plymouth cut that lead by two points at the half with the score at 38-32.

Thunder looked to race away in the third period as surges from Tullis, Liam Mitchell and Jack Sunderland at one stage secured a 12-point lead, but the visitors cut this to 62-53 heading into the final quarter.

Plymouth again cut the lead back to just five points in the final stanza, but Darpino hit another late run to seal Thunder’s spot in the next round.

Worthing now travel to Leicester Warriors in the trophy on Sunday in a 1pm start.