WORTHING Thunder got their home campaign off to a winning start as they defeated league champions Bristol Academy Flyers 81-77 in the EBL Trophy on Saturday (September 24).
Courtney Small led all scorers for Thunder with 25 points, 13 of them coming in a spectacular first period where Worthing ran riot – and although Bristol did stage a late fight-back Thunder held on for the victory.
Thunder captain James Brame said: “We had a great start and came out with all guns blazing and ran them off the court if the first quarter.
“They were a bit shell-shocked and then all you can do in that position is just chip away at the score, which they did.
“In the fourth, our starters were a little tired and they just kept coming back at us, and hats off to them, that is why they are champions.
“It was the first time we were all playing together and there were lots of positives to take.
“It was a great game to play in and the first 10 minutes really shows how we can play.
“I really think we will be one of the teams to beat this season and be right up there.”
Americans Chris Talley and Marcus Tullis added 16 and 14 points respectively, while Francesco Amato recorded 10 points and 16 rebounds against an injury-hit Bristol side.
Small helped Thunder race into a 20-3 lead, and the dominant Worthing were 27-14 up after the first quarter, and although Bristol came back into it, Thunder were still in control at 49-38 at half-time. Thunder’s lead was cut to single figures in the third period, but Worthing fought back and led 64-51 heading into the final quarter. The hosts led by 13 heading to the final five minutes and Bristol, led by Tyrone Treasure’s 10 points in the final quarter pushed Thunder close.
Thunder travel to Brixton Top Cats for their second EBL Trophy match on Saturday