WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club saved the best until last, with an exhilarating 93-90 win against Cheshire Jets in their final home game of the BBL season on Saturday.
A raucous crowd packed Worthing Leisure Centre and enjoyed a back-and-forth game that went down to the final buzzer. The play-off-bound Jets played hard but ran into a Worthing side in inspired form.
Sherrad Prezzie-Blue led the team with 25 points, but Thunder coach Gary Smith praised the way all his players executed their game plan and said: “The team deserved that win for all the work they’ve put in during the season. We outplayed a top-four side tonight. It’s a pity it’s the final game as we just showed how good we can be.”
Jets started well with Matt Schneck and Jeremy Bell establishing a 26-23 first quarter lead. Prezzie-Blue was on fire at the start of the second stanza, nailing two three-pointers before Marlin Capers gave Worthing a first lead at 42-40 with three minutes left in the period.
Shaun Durant dominated on offensive rebounds and Adam Williams hit a seventh three-pointer as Worthing extended their lead to 60-44 at half-time.
Quemont Greer hit a hot-streak as Jets narrowed the gap to seven points, but whenever they got close another Thunder player stepped up. Cleve Woodfork dunked over half the Jets team to take a 74-64 lead into the final stanza.
An 18-8 run by Jets had the home crowd worried before Thunder re-established their lead at 91-86, after another three-pointer from Prezzie-Blue with two minutes remaining.
Time stood still as Gareth Murray’s shot hit the rim with Worthing leading 91-90 and just seven seconds remaining but Capers held his nerve to sink two free-throws and seal the win.
Smith said that Prezzie-Blue and Williams “played like giants” as the pair combined for 37 points to secure victory for Thunder in spite of Greer’s 25 and Bell’s 23 for Cheshire.
Williams and Prezzie-Blue were further rewarded after the game. Prezzie-Blue was named players’ player and supporters’ player of the season, while Williams was named coach’s player of the season.
The game was assistant coach Alan Sweetman-Hicks’ last with the club and he said: “It’s a great way to finish off and it’s nice to finish with a win.
“I started the season as coach and we lost to a last second shot and we finished with the win in the last-second tonight, which is quite ironic, but it’s a good finish.”
A clearly tired Thunder side were beaten 108-74 at Plymouth Raiders on Sunday night, despite another inspired performance by Prezzie-Blue.
The game looked to be another thriller early on, with Raiders leading 25-19 after eight minutes.
Anthony Rowe and Germaine Forbes then hit successive three-pointers as the hosts hit a 19-1 run to take a 61-33 half-time lead.
Prezzie-Blue tried to drag Thunder back in contention with a team-high 27 points, but the gap was always too large and Raiders secured a 34-point victory to claim a BBL play-off spot.