A POOR third quarter contributed to Worthing Thunder Basketball Club’s defeat at home to high-flying Derby Trailblazers on Saturday.
The loss means Thunder have to win away to bottom-of-the-table Newham Neptunes on Saturday to seal a play-off place. Worthing will still finish in the top eight if they lose and Leicester fail to win at Derby.
Milton Chavis led Worthing with 32 points, ten rebounds and five assists in a superb all-round display, while Hank Rivers chipped in with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Tomas Seduikis added 16 points for the hosts.
Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth refused to be downbeat about the loss and said: “Tonight was a case of the third quarter blues for us. We went at Derby, built a double-digit lead as we normally do in the second quarter, then in the third, Derby clamped down on defence and we struggled to find our gears that we had in the first half. Credit to Derby, it was a great game and neither team deserved to lose.”
Chris Shalvoy led Derby with 27 points, including six of Trailblazers’ last seven points, which eventually carried them to victory.
Both teams traded three-pointers to begin with, but an early 6-0 run from Thunder, with four of those coming from Chavis, gave them a slender 9-8 lead.
The first ten minutes was fast-paced and free-flowing, with both officials seemingly letting the two teams play. The pace looked to suit Derby as they took a 18-12 lead thanks to a hook shot inside from Lee Goldbrough.
But Thunder came back and the hosts scored the final nine points to lead 30-25 heading into the second.
Derby struggled to get going in the second period as a long two from the wing by Louis Allen gave the hosts a 36-29 cushion. A further six unanswered points from Worthing, midway through, gave them a 46-36 advantage.
The visitors, however, ended the quarter the stronger of the two sides as back-to-back buckets from the consistent Raheem Thompson-May narrowed the gap, but Worthing still enjoyed a 52-44 lead going into the break.
That lead was quickly wiped out, though, as Shalvoy hit five points to level the score at 54-54 with just under two minutes of the third played.
Worthing’s attacking style of basketball seemed to desert them as Derby’s defence was organised and effective. A three from Dan Watts brought the third to a close with the visitors in front, 80-75.
The pace of the game was still high, but as the minutes ticked down, both teams began to make mistakes. Fortunately for Thunder, Derby made some critical ones down the stretch that allowed Allen and Chavis to spark a 7-0 run that tied the game early in the final period at 84-84.
But, as both sides traded leads, Derby had a run at the most vital moment. Shalvoy took it upon himself to lead Derby with six of their final seven points to take them to victory.
After the game, Thunder held their player-of-the-year awards and Chavis was named the team’s MVP.
The players’ player of the year went to Allen, with Selby Hind-Wills winning the coach’s player of the year trophy.