Hafeez Abdul at the hoop for Worthing Thunder v Hemel Storm / Picture: Kyle HemsleyHafeez Abdul at the hoop for Worthing Thunder v Hemel Storm / Picture: Kyle Hemsley
Hafeez Abdul at the hoop for Worthing Thunder v Hemel Storm / Picture: Kyle Hemsley

Worthing Thunder hunt down Hemel - basketball picture gallery

Worthing Thunder put a run of defeats behind them with a superb, thrilling 82-76 victory over Hemel Storm in front of a raucous Thunderdome crowd.

Returning to the side were Jack Sunderland and Tom Ward to make it a full-strength team for the first time in three months. A big crowd included the Mayor of Worthing, and Thunder played probably their best basketball of the season against a strong Hemel side who also have a top four finish in their sights.

The first quarter started at a frenetic pace as the lead changed four times in quick succession. Thunder held the lead as the quarter went on but a run of eight points by the visitors brought Storm back into the game and it was 20-18 at the first break. Thunder spread their scoring evenly with only Jarred Dixon making big inroads into the Storm defence with nine points. Masterminding Thunder’s defence was Zaire Taylor, who in the first ten minutes pulled down six rebounds in a stellar performance.

The second stanza was similar as both sides played fantastic basketball. Eight points from Taylor helped keep Thunder’s noses in front but 14 from league top scorer Taylor Johnson kept Storm neck and neck. Thunder were in danger of losing control of the defence but pulled together and pulled a deficit back with a ten-point run to finish the quarter with a 41-35 lead.

The returning Ward was having a big influence on the game as his prompting and energy was showing what Thunder had missed. But the worrying thing at half-time was that Storm were bossing the boards with Thunder struggling to get possession. The third period again saw Thunder struggle defensively and Johnson hit another 14 points early in the quarter.

Thunder’s all-round play gradually had an effect as the visitors’ nine-point lead was slowly pulled back. Storm were relying on their Americans Greg Poleon and Taylor Johnson to keep the scoreboard ticking over but impressive minutes from Dixon, Ward and Hafeez Abdul was backed up in defence by Taylor and Howard Crawford. As the session ended Thunder had battled back to only trail by two points, 60-62.

The final quarter was to produce the most exciting basketball seen at the Thunderdome for a long time. With the crowd in full voice, Thunder were fantastic. Storm’s two leading scorers were confined to just six points as Thunder’s defence stepped up to control things.With a minute left it was still anyone’s game . Thunder then exerted more offensive power with a six-point blast and the ecstatic crowd could celebrate an 82-76 win. At the final buzzer the court was engulfed by supporters celebrating a famous victory!

It is almost impossible to nominate an MVP for the game as everyone played their part but Taylor and Ward deserved plaudits. Thunder make the long journey to face Team Newcastle on Saturday. Next up at the Thunderdome are clashes with Reading Rockets and Oaklands Wolves on March 5 and 6. Be there!