Thunder sunk by late Leeds charge

Hank Rivers led Thunder's scoring against Leeds
Hank Rivers led Thunder's scoring against Leeds

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club coach Daniel Hildreth felt his side were unlucky not to win at Leeds Carnegie on Saturday (February 16), when they lost 68-64.

The home side went ahead for the first time with just 97 seconds left and then held on to win, which left Hildreth to say: “It’s hard to talk about the game in fairness, the guys didn’t deserve that.

“I thought we were patient and confident in our ability, we made mature decisions and executed well.

“The last few minutes, unfortunately, we were static on offence and credit to Leeds, they didn’t give the game up and kept on attacking us and they got the win. I thought we were the better side throughout, though, and this is definitely a game where we were unlucky not to win.”

Thunder led for the majority of the contest but a gritty Leeds side refused to throw in the towel and their patience was rewarded with 1min 37sec remaining when they took their first lead of the game at 56-55 thanks to a bucket from Armand Aleb. This began a frantic last minute and a half, which saw Thunder out-scored 12-9 by the 2013 National Cup winners.

Buckets from Hank Rivers and a three-pointer from Dominic Baker gave Thunder an early 7-2 lead and the visitors led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Brendon Okoronkwo came on in the second quarter and he hit five quick points as Worthing extended their lead to double digits at 24-13 and they remained on top to lead 37-28 at half-time.

Bud Johnston opened the third quarter with a triple to give Worthing a 40-28 advantage and a 7-0 run then extended their lead to 47-33, with Rivers adding four points to his total.

Leeds hit back with a 6-0 run of their own and had reduced the deficit to 53-50 with one stanza to play.

In the final quarter, Leeds took their first lead at 56-55 but Thunder retook the lead with a three from Okoronkwo before Leeds hit back to claim the win.

Rivers led Worthing with 18 points and eight rebounds, Okoronkwo sank 15 points and Kadiri Richard had seven points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Okoronkwo said: “This is no doubt a tough loss to take. We controlled the tempo of the game and had Leeds right where we wanted them.

“They were in a battle tonight, and even though we might have put in a good shift, it means nothing without a win. We now need to play like we did in the first half tonight, but for the entire game in order to get the results we want.”

Thunder host bottom-of-the-table Brixton on Saturday (7.30pm).