WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club strengthened their National League Division 1 play-off hopes with an impressive victory at Hemel Storm on Saturday.
Thunder produced an all-round team effort as they led by 15 points at one stage, before Hemel fought back to make the score 78-77 with two minutes left.
However, Worthing answered the challenge and the game was put to bed with a triple from Tomas Seduikis with 42.2 seconds left to give Thunder a 89-81 lead.
Along with Seduikis’s key showing with 16 points, Milton Chavis led the victors with 25 points and 14 rebounds and Hank Rivers added his usual double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds.
Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “I’m pleased with this win tonight at a venue that we have struggled to pick up results in previous seasons.
“We’ve spoken about every game being treated as a play-off game and we put in a performance tonight worthy of beating anyone in this league and it goes to show what we are capable of.
“We had a double-digit lead and, while we let that lead slip, we didn’t drop our heads and concede, we hit back and everyone on the court stepped up. I was really happy with the way we responded in the fourth when the momentum was with Hemel.
“We closed out the game and it now sets us up for next week against Bradford.”
Chavis and Rivers got Thunder off to a good start with buckets inside, and as the tempo of the contest quickened, Worthing’s execution got better offensively and defensively.
As the first quarter ticked down, a 6-0 run inspired by Chavis gave the visitors a 26-19 advantage.
The second quarter started in exactly the same vein as the end of the first as Selby Hind-Wills gave Thunder their first double-digit lead of the game, as his aggressive play inside was a highlight of a solid half of basketball.
Hemel, through Bode Adeluola, responded and they would narrow the gap to nine points at various stages of the second as they slowed the pace of the game down to suit them.
Thunder held on to their lead at the interval, as the returning Joe Carter’s off-balance three-pointer stuck to the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded, but Worthing led 51-43.
The third quarter was sluggish as both teams failed to find any sort of rhythm that they established so easily in the first half of play. Thunder, thanks to a three-point play from Chavis, moved into a 63-55 lead but thanks to six straight points from Best as the third quarter buzzer sounded, Worthing’s cushion was reduced to 67-61.
Hemel by this point had the momentum, as Worthing were missing shots, while the hosts were aggressive and scoring comfortably.
Following a time-out from Hildreth, the visitors hit back again and this time, despite holding a one-point lead late on, found enough to see the game out and record a vital victory.
Thunder remain eighth in the table and host ninth-placed Bradford on Saturday, before they travel to leaders Essex Leopards on Sunday.