Worthing Thunder Basketball Club lost to Medway Park Crusaders in a thrilling double overtime EBL Division 1 game on Saturday evening at Worthing Leisure Centre.
With two ticks left in regulation, Bud Johnston drilled a near half-court three to tie the game at 77-77 after Lukas Volskis scored inside and Cole Hobin hit a free-throw to put Medway Park up 77-74 with 40 seconds remaining.
On the basket which sent the game to overtime, Johnston said: “We set up a play for Julian Stanley to get the original look and we were trying to get Jack Sunderland in the corner, but I knew I had less than a second to get the ball in, so got it back and got the shot up. I didn’t aim, I just set myself up and hoped it would go in, and it did.”
Thunder’s Tomas Seduikis opened overtime with a triple from the corner, but despite leading for the majority of the extra period, Medway looked to have sneaked it thanks to a two-hand slam for Disraeli Lufadeju, but Hank Rivers scored off an inbound from Johnston to send the game into a second extra session.
From there, Medway held on to the victory as Thunder suffered their sixth successive loss to start the league season. Julian Stanley had a chance to win it but his three bounced out and he said: “To miss that after I had made an earlier three which Hank said ‘was the biggest three I had ever hit’ which was true I guess and to see that potential game-winner go in, then out, was heartbreaking.”
Rivers led all scorers for Worthing with 31 points, and he added 12 rebounds as well. Johnston supported with 15 and Seduikis got 14.
Mannock Lual led Medway Park with 21 points and 24 rebounds as he played well over 48 minutes. The visitors took full advantage of the lack of Thunder big men by out-rebounding them 52-38.
After a cold spell in the beginning, a turnaround from Seduikis tied the game at 2-2 and a quick-fire 7-0 run, inspired by Jack Sunderland, gave Thunder a 9-5 lead early on as solid defence kept the visitors at bay.
Lufadeju tied the game at 9-9 which was cancelled out with a three by Dominic Baker as the momentum shifted slightly in Thunder’s favour. Worthing kept the lead going at the end of the first quarter as they had a 17-15 advantage.
Free-throws by Nick Corbin extended the lead to start the second quarter and Julian Stanley stopped a run from the visitors with five points in 30 seconds to keep Thunder’s cushion intact at 24-17 in the early stages of the second.
Medway Park, though, came back at the midway point of the quarter and a 10-2 run gave them a 34-31 lead before Hank Rivers ended the visitors’ growing momentum with a bucket inside. Crusaders led at half-time, though, as they were 38-33 ahead.
Like he did in the second quarter, Corbin got the third quarter underway with a simple bucket but the visitors managed to keep their lead with aggressive play inside. Thunder would end the third with a 7-0 run highlighted by a steal and lay-up by Johnston. But Crusaders scored the final four points of the third to give them a 52-50 lead going into the last stanza.
Medway looked to have the game in the bag, as they led 69-55 thanks to a three-point play from Lual but the hosts responded with a 17-2 run to take the lead with two minutes left, which set up the thrilling finale.
Thunder travel to Hemel Storm in the league on Saturday, before hosting Derby Trailblazers, who they beat in the quarter-finals of the National Cup last weekend, on Sunday.