Thunder snatch victory against MK Lions

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ADAM Williams held his nerve on Sunday to sink two free throws with two seconds to play and gave Worthing Thunder Basketball Club a 102-100 win over MK Lions in the BBL Championship.

Thunder produced a thrilling fightback to win their third Championship game of the season after they had looked dead and buried when a pair of free throws from Lions’ Travis Nelson gave the visitors a 84-75 lead with just 3mins 3sec left.

However, Thunder kept believing and went on a 11-point run to lead 86-84 with 15 seconds to play.

Nelson drew MK level with four seconds left before Thunder’s Sherrad Prezzie-Blue’s long-range three-point attempt to win the match bounced out and the game went into over-time.

The over-time period went back and forth. Thunder opened up a four-point lead twice, before MK moved three points ahead after a Stefan Gill two-pointer made it 99-96 with 30 seconds left.

Two free throws from Williams got Thunder to within a point with 22 seconds to play. Lions’ Connor Washington then nailed one of two free throws, before Williams made it 100-100 with 12 seconds left.

MK then missed their shooting opportunity and Williams broke with four seconds left. He was fouled when he attempted to shoot from distance and, after lengthy discussions between the officials, and then the officials and both sets of coaches, play restarted with two free throws for Thunder and two seconds left.

Williams knocked down both as the Thunder fans erupted and, although MK re-started with play on the halfway line, they were unable to produce a response and lost to Thunder for the second time this season.

On going to the line to win the match, Williams said: “I was feeling all right.

“I really wanted to shoot them and felt confident. The score was tied, so it was a good opportunity to win the game, even by making just one, so I didn’t really feel any nerves.

“I had a good feeling about it. Obviously, we didn’t want to go to another over-time period but it wasn’t like we were one down and I needed to make a shot to tie and another to win.

“This gives us confidence now. We played good defence down the stretch and did well to bring it back, which was nice to see and we showed character.

“The way I look at it now, we’ve got nothing to lose in any game. We’re a dangerous team for sides who are going for the play-offs or for the title to play.

“We’ll just look to upset as many of them as we can.”

In a entertaining encounter, the lead changed hands 15 times and MK enjoyed the largest lead of 12 points early in the fourth quarter.

MK had won the first quarter 22-20 and were 46-43 ahead at half-time. They had increased their advantage to 67-58 by the end of the third quarter but Thunder won the last stanza 28-19 to take the match to over-time, which they won 16-14.

Cleve Woodfork topped Thunder’s scorers with 23 points, while Prezzie-Blue, Williams and Marlin Capers all sank 20 and Shaun Durant had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

MK’s Nelson was the game’s top scorer with 31 points and he also had 14 rebounds, while Gill sank 24 points for the visitors.

Thunder captain James Brame said: “We were down by nine with not long left but we always felt we were going to win.

“That was the feeling on the floor and looking into the eyes of our players, we all felt it and, as soon as it went to over-time, I knew we were going to win.

“There were some big performances. Shaun Durant was pulling down offensive rebounds, Cleve and Sherrad were hitting their shots and Adam Williams must have ice in his veins after hitting the two free throws.

“It’s a great win and it’s been a while coming here. The fans were great. It’s good to get the win in front of them and it gives us confidence and is something we can build on.”

Thunder coach Gary Smith added: “We never gave up and made some big free throws. It gives us confidence and momentum going into this weekend’s games.”

Thunder had lost 101-79 at Mersey Tigers on Friday evening. Tigers led 26-18 at the end of the first quarter, had moved 46-35 ahead by half-time and led 77-55 with one stanza left.

Durant top-scored with 20 points for Thunder, while Williams sank 17 and Prezzie-Blue 14.

James Jones and Andrew Thomson joint top-scored with 20 points each for Tigers.

Thunder travel to Leicester Riders on Friday and host Glasgow Rocks at Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday (7.30pm).