Worthing Thunder miss out on league title by slimmest of margins

Worthing Thunder finally saw their title ambitions fall short by the slimmest of margins last weekend when Solent Kestrels were crowned National Basketball League Division One champions.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 2:00 pm
Brendan Okoronkwo contributed 10 points. Picture by Kyle Hemsley

Both Solent and Thunder finished the season equal on points at the top of the league and split the head-to-head matches between them but it was Solent who came out triumphant by virtue of the match aggregate scores between the two teams.

Thunder could not have done more over the last three weekends winning tricky games on the road at Loughborough and Derby Trailblazers and finishing their regular season league competition with a visit to Thames Valley Cavaliers. Thunder continued their good run of results beating the home side by 12 points (99-87).

Thunder were slightly slower out of the blocks than their hosts with Cavaliers springing into an early 21-14 lead before Thunder steadied the ship to end the quarter with a 30-25 advantage.

The visitors continued to pile on the pressure throughout the second quarter and after a 15-0 lead went into the locker room at half time with a commanding 14 point lead (57-43); However a spirited 16-0 run in reply in the final quarter saw Cavaliers narrow the gap to just five points and it motivated Thunder to up their game again and, as the clock run out, encouraged by Thunder’s numerous and enthusiastic travelling fans, Thunder eventually came out victorious by 12 points.

It was another solid all-round team performance in which Thunder shot 14 baskets from beyond the arc, hit 11 of their 12 free throws and, most impressively gave away only 5 turn-overs in the entire match, Four Thunder players scored 50% or more of their three-point shots demonstrating how dangerous the team can be from anywhere on court.

Jorge Ebanks was top scorer with 25 points followed by Alex Owumi (23 points), Zaire Taylor (21 points). Tom Ward and Brendan Okoronkwo contributed 12 and 10 points respectively.Nobody could have asked more of Thunder – all that was left was a nervous wait for 24 hours to see if Essex Leopards could topple Solent to see Thunder crowned champions. Despite a valiant effort by Leopards it was Solent who eventually won comfortably and picked up the Championship Trophy.

Thunder now enter the post-season Play-Offs seeking to retain the trophy they picked up last season in Manchester. Thunder play their quarter-final at Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday 6th April tip off 6pm when the visitors are Essex Leopards. If Thunder are successful in that match the semi-final will be held at the same venue the following Saturday when the opponents will be Loughborough Riders or Reading Rockets.