WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club made it four consecutive victories in the EBL with two wins in a double-header weekend.
Thunder first comfortably overcame Tees Valley Mohawks 95-79 at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday, before seeing off Medway Park Crusaders 87-82 on Sunday afternoon.
It was a convincing display on Saturday as Thunder led from tip-to-buzzer as they easily defeated Tees Valley – Hank Rivers led with an impressive 37 points and 23 rebounds.
Courtney Small netted 22 points, Liam Mitchell kept his good form going with 16 and Marcus Tullis quietly racked up figures of 12 points and seven assists.
Captain and assistant coach, James Brame, who stepped in for ill head coach Gary Smith, said: “We are definitely taking steps now, in practice and in each game, it’s coming together and we’re gelling.
“It’s tough but we are going in the right direction, we have so much talent and sometimes it is hard for us not to just revert to one-on-one basketball.
“We slowed it down, we controlled the game, put it inside and as you saw, Hank went to work and put in an amazing performance. But so did the team, and the improvement is there.”
But after a final-period fight back from Medway Park on Sunday where they cut Thunder’s lead from 14 to just five, Brame was not so impressed with the sides’ display.
He said: “I told the guys afterwards that in the fourth, we got stuck in cruise control and that we seemed to lack mental toughness and it doesn’t matter who you play, that just can not happen.
“Mental toughness comes from winning games regularly, when you think about it we’ve only been on a mini winning streak so the team is coming along. Hank has changed our outlook, no doubt about it, and he has fitted in tremendously.”
Vinnie Darpino led Worthing with 24 points while Rivers capped off a superb weekend with another double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Courtney Small added 17 points.
Thunder led 19-16 after the first in a fast-paced encounter, before Thunder pulled away to a 42-30 lead at the halfway point.
Rivers began the third with five quick points to extend Thunder’s double-digit lead, before Jack Sunderland, who saw extended minutes after a solid outing the night before, converted a two-pointer to help Thunder to 64-50 going into the last.
Medway crept back into the game as the period went on, but a 7-0 run put Thunder back in control, but the hosts weren’t finished as they continued to push in the final minutes.
A flying start on Saturday saw Worthing race into a 19-0 lead, while the visitors only opened their account with under four minutes left of the first quarter, as Thunder led 26-10 by the close. Tees Valley cut the lead as the second wore on and were nine behind at 46-35 at the half. Mohawks further cut the lead in the third, but Mitchell and Rivers, the latter hitting 15 in the period, helped them to a 74-59 advantage going into the final quarter – which was fairly routine for the home side.