WORTHING Thunder Baketball Club advanced to the second round of the National Cup on Sunday at the expense of Solent Kestrels, following tipping off their first full game of the season with trophy defeat against Medway Park the previous evening.
The important thing for head coach Daniel Hildreth was Sunday’s 78-71 win as Bud Johnston led the scores with 24 points, but the new Thunder boss admits that there are still improvements to be made.
Hildreth said: “If I’m totally honest, I was happier with our performance yesterday against Medway (81-68 defeat) then I was today.
“Yes we got the win and that’s the most important thing and we are through to the next round but I felt that yesterday’s performance was better for the most part.”
Hildreth praised the performances of young guards Noel Pollock and Sunderland, who got 17 and 13 points respectively.
He added: “It’s still early for us as we only started practice as a team about three weeks ago and we are treating our first four games as friendlies so we can work out our strengths and use it as a team on the court.”
With the game in the balance with 1:20 remaining, Thunder up 71-69, Johnston netted two vital free throws, and with 49 seconds on the watch, Jack Sunderland tipped an inbound pass into the path of Johnston who was fouled.
The veteran sunk the two foul shots and Sunderland made sure by making two more as Thunder sealed their place in the next round.
Solent put Thunder of the back foot early on, but things ended level at 19-19 at the end of the first quarter.
The second was a scrappy affair, but Thunder held firm and led 37-31 at the half.
Thunder were 58-53 up going into the final period as Kestrels made a strong finish to make the game interesting. Hank Rivers was Thunder’s only other double-figure scorer as he hit 10 points.
In a defensive-minded contest on Saturday, Medway went on a game-winning 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to seal Thunder’s fate.
Johnston led Thunder with 15 points, supported by 10 points from Tomas Seduikis. Dominic Baker and Rivers both scored nine points.