Impressive Thunder cruise to home win over Medway

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club put in an impressive performance on Saturday evening to comfortably beat Medway Park 83-70 and return to winning ways at home.

Thunder had lost their previous three matches at Worthing Leisure Centre but started at a quick tempo and were 8-0 ahead in little over two minutes.

They never looked back from that point and finished the first quarter with a 26-11 lead.

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Medway cut the deficit slightly to 43-31 at half-time but Thunder took the game away from the visitors in the third quarter, leading by 26 points at one stage, before closing the stanza 66-45 in front.

Medway improved in the final quarter but the closest they got was 11 points as Thunder comfortably won their second successive match to stay third in the table.

Hank Rivers led the way for Thunder with 32 points and 18 rebounds, while Marcus Tullis hit 16 points, Courtney Small 15, and Liam Mitchell, Bud Johnston and captain James Brame all sank six.

Thunder coach Gary Smith was pleased with his side’s performance and said: “After three losses in a row, we’ve turned things around.

“I showed tough love after the Bradford game and everyone came into practice fully focused and pushed themselves, which is good, as I can only push them so far.

“Bud’s come in and helped us a great deal and the juniors have helped as well, coming in and pushing the guys.

“We started the game quickly before Medway made a big push and brought it back but we rode it out, got back on it and played our game.

“Defensively, we played great and sustained their runs.

“We can’t rest on our laurels, though. We need to improve game by game. We’ve got to improve on this performance in our next game against Derby.

“They’re a good team but we beat them here and we’ll, hopefully, have Vinnie Darpino back available.”

Rivers got the first four points for Worthing as the visitors struggled to get into an early rhythm as Thunder moved 8-0 and then 12-2 ahead.

A looping lob from Disraeli Lufadeju when he turned away from the basket produced a moment for Medway to remember in the first quarter but Thunder led 26-11 after the first 10 minutes.

Medway reduced the deficit to 33-23 in the second stanza before two technical fouls in quick succession against Medway coach James Vear saw Thunder regain control and lead 43-31 at half-time.

Tullis started the third quarter with five unanswered points to give Thunder a 48-31 lead, and Rivers and Small also got involved as the hosts enjoyed a 52-33 cushion to start the second half.

Thunder continued the onslaught, and Medway coach James Vear called a timeout when Small stripped the ball off Lufadeju for an easy dunk to give Worthing a 60-37 advantage. After that, the visitors looked a more determined side, fired-up by coach Vear’s passionate speech, Crusaders ended the third with a 7-2 burst, but Thunder still enjoyed a 66-45 lead heading into the last 10 minutes.

Medway started the fourth with a 6-0 run as Thunder were held scoreless for nearly three minutes but Medway never managed to cut their deficit to single digits as Thunder cruised to victory.

Rivers said afterwards: “It was great to get a home win, great that we played as a team and I think we’re back to enjoying our basketball, which is important also.

“I’m not too fussed about my numbers, I just want to help my team out by any means necessary.

“Medway are a well-organised team and those guys never gave up, so we had to work, like we do against every team we face.”