Thunder edge closer to Playoffs with win over Essex

Win sets up crucial decider next weekend

Worthing Thunder responded from last night’s loss to Bradford Dragons with a deserved 58-52 victory over title-chasing Essex Leopards at the Brentwood Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon.

As a result of this win, a place in the National Basketball League, Division 1 Playoffs is still in Thunder’s hands with two games still to play.

A win next Saturday at home to Derby Trailblazers would guarantee a post-season spot and if a selection of results goes Worthing’s way, Daniel Hildreth’s men could be seventh by the time they travel to Newham Neptunes for the last game of the regular season.

In the meantime, Thunder, without Milton Chavis, who was resting his ankle as a precaution for next week will cherish their second win over the Leopards this season with the latest success in a venue, notorious for its unforgiving baskets.

Hank Rivers led Thunder with an impressive 28 points and 19 rebounds with Josh Brown adding 10 points in victory.

“It was a fantastic team performance with the absence of Milton,” Hildreth said. “We knew from experience that it’s not a shooters gym. But either way, we stuck to the game plan and they didn’t adjust, we held them to just 30 points in 35 minutes.

“The final five minutes it was purely the case of holding on and we did just that. The Playoff spot is right there for us and we don’t want to leave it up to other teams deciding our fate, a win next week in front of our home crowd will seal it so we are hoping to put on a show.”

After a strong first quarter, where Thunder led 16-12, they all of a sudden struggled to execute offensively. Fortunately for the visitors, so did Leopards as only 18 points were scored in the second quarter and Worthing still enjoyed a 26-20 advantage.

With Thunder finding the going tough in third quarter showings in the last three games, they showed no signs of a struggle here, leading 41-30 heading into the final quarter before withstanding an Essex onslaught in the final five minutes to take the win.