Thunder come out on top in thriller against Northumbria

Tom Ward. Picture by Andre Nichols
Tom Ward. Picture by Andre Nichols

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club beat Team Northumbria in a nail-biting National League Division 1 encounter at Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday.

In a game that featured 21 lead changes, Worthing ended a four-game losing streak to collect their fifth league win of the season.

Worthing trailed 80-76 late in the fourth, and had to dig deep when it mattered. Buckets by Jack Sunderland and Josh Brown plus two blocks in the last 50 seconds by James Cambronne proved to be the game-changer as they eventually sealed the game from the foul line.

There was a late scare, but with the seconds ticking down Northumbria’s Lewis Champion threw the ball out of bounds, instead of shooting a potential game-tying three-pointer.

Cambronne’s two blocks, to go with a game-high 30 points and 16 rebounds earned him the MVP award. Tom Ward added 24 points and Brendan Okoronkwo posted 11 points and had six rebounds.

Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “It was important for us to rebound from last week’s loss against Manchester and we did that against an incredibly talented Northumbria team.

“It doesn’t matter about how long they travelled, they are third in the league and have beaten some great teams, so this win goes to show how evenly balanced this league really is.”

Buckets from Ward and Cambronne in the early going gave Thunder a 7-6 advantage and for the majority of the first quarter, both teams exchanged leads but Thunder led 18-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Back-to-back baskets by Cambronne extended Thunder’s lead to 22-16 but Team Northumbria hit back quickly with a floater by Champion, which gave the visitors a 27-26 edge. But it was quickly wiped out by a lay-up from Ward thanks to the dish from Okoronkwo.

As the half wound down to its final seconds, a lay-up by Champion, who seemingly drove to the lane and scored at will whenever he wanted, handed Team Northumbria a 44-42 lead at the break.

A triple from Tom Devitt gave the visitors a 49-44 lead in the opening exchanges of the third, but that was answered by back-to-back drives by Okoronkwo, which narrowed the deficit to a point. Even though the visitors restored their five-point cushion, Worthing hit back once more and a sublime cut to the hoop by Brown gave his side a 61-59 lead.

Thunder led 66-63 after three quarters but Northumbria took the lead in the early stages of the fourth period thanks to a triple from Neil Randolph. He missed the chance to extend his side’s advantage further with another three-point attempt, which led to a basket by Cambronne.

The visitors re-established their lead and a lay-in by Champion gave the Tyneside outfit a 80-76 cushion, before Thunder responded to win in a thrilling finish.

Thunder travel to Westminster on Saturday (6.30pm) and then head to Essex on Sunday (3.30pm).

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