Worthing Thunder whip up storm in Hemel - and shoot down Reading Rockets

Thunder travelled to old rivals Hemel Storm for another vital league clash – and it was third versus second.

Howard Crawford was superb in the win at Hemel Storm / Picture: Kyle Hemsley
Howard Crawford was superb in the win at Hemel Storm / Picture: Kyle Hemsley

Thunder’s small band of supporters made themselves heard as the game continued at a furious pace.

The first quarter got off to a flyer as new signing Lucien Christofis hit the first points from beyond the arc.

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A second trey soon followed as Thunder looked to impose themselves. Howard Crawford was a tower of strength in defence as Thunder put pressure on the home team, forcing them into taking long shots.

As the quarter went on it was a typical game between these two fine sides and at the first break Thunder led 24-22.

The second period produced more scintillating basketball as Thunder strived to hold their dominance but the lead went back and forth.

Again Crawford was strong in defence but he was now adding to his role by scoring as well.

With an able partner in Hafeez Abdul, Thunder were getting more of the ball and with Christofis and Jack Sunderland moving the ball quickly it was a fascinating contest.

At the halfway break Thunder led by four points.

The third period saw Thunder force the pace but Hemel were playing well.

With Zaire Taylor using all his experience in the Thunder cause it was a game that could go either way.

Crawford combined defence with an attacking flair which was phenomenal in his best performance of the season.

Tom Ward, who until deep in the game had not worried the scoreboard, was massive in running the plays.

Time and again he was involved in assisting the scorers and at the third break the gap had narrowed to just a 63-61 lead.

The final 10 minutes saw Thunder begin to take the game over as Jerrad Dixon found his range. When he scores he puts a run together and here he did it once more.

Thunder ended 95-84 winners and now sit level with Solent at the top

Praise goes to Thunder coach Julian Stanley, who along with Taylor, organised the defensive plays to perfection towards the end of the game.

Thunder now look forward to Sunday’s meeting with Reading Rockets at the Thunderdome in the National Cup.

* Thunder beat the Reading Rockets 97-90 in the fourth round of the National Cup on Sunday.

It started as a cagey affair with both sides testing the other’s defences.

Tom Ward and Jack Sunderland gave the energy to the early Thunder performance. Jarred Dixon and Hafeez Abdul led from the front and they led the scoring at the first break with the game tied at 24-24.

The second quarter saw both teams going hard at each other.

Thunder had the lead only for the Rockets to hit back and at halfway the visitors held a two-point lead at 47-49.

Hafeez Abdul continued his scoring and, along with Dixon, kept Thunder in touch. The lead was changing regularly.

The third quarter produced more great basketball from both teams.

It was the physical play from the Rockets that was threatening to upset Thunder.

Thunder combatted that with the introduction of Abdul and Howard Crawford as the defensive enforcers with Crawford also going forward and scoring at will.

His third-quarter tally of 11 points and seven rebounds was close to a match-winning performance for Thunde’rs big American.

Abdul failed to add to his score from the first half but was immense in defence and with Dixon chipping in with a further seven the game was beginning to change. Thunder led 68-65 with a quarter to go.

Another 11 points from Crawford and a big 13 from the ever influential Zaire Taylor put pressure on the Rockets.

As the final quarter was played the Thunder lead grew and it was only a big trey by the visitors on the buzzer that pulled the difference below double digits, the match ending 97-90.

It was once again the Thunders team play that had seen them through!

Thunder are at home on Saturday, November 20 with a 5pm tip-off against Newcastle University.