Worthing Thunder lost 108-99 to Derby Trailblazers in the final home game of the National Basketball League, Division 1 season at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday night.
Thunder now have to beat Newham Neptunes in their final game next Saturday at the University of East London and hope that Leicester Warriors lose just one of their last two games in order to qualify for the playoffs after Bradford Dragons ended their season with a loss to Manchester Magic.
Milton Chavis led Worthing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a superb all-round display.
“I told coach [Daniel Hildreth] that I was going to be aggressive and attack Derby hard,” Chavis said. “We’re disappointed not to get the win but we still have a chance next week against Newham, we just got to be prepared and play hard on the day.”
Hank Rivers chipped in with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Tomas Seduikis added 16 for the hosts.
Afterwards, Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth refused to be downbeat about the loss, rather focusing on the positives and what the goal is for next Saturday’s trip to second from bottom Newham.
“We now have to beat Newham and hope that Leicester slip up, that’s what it comes down to and we must be ready for next week and focus on our own game,” said Hildreth.
“Tonight was a case of the third quarter blues for us. We went at Derby, built a double-digit lead as we normally do in the second quarter, then in the third, Derby clamped down on defence and we struggled to find our gears that we had in the first half. Credit to Derby, it was a great game and neither team deserved to lose.”
Chris Shalvoy led Derby with 27 points, including the last six of the Trailblazers’ seven points, which eventually carried them to victory.
Both teams traded three-pointers to begin with, but an early 6-0 run from the Thunder, with four of those coming from Chavis gave them a slender 9-8 lead.
The first ten minutes was fast-paced and free flowing, with both officials seemingly letting the two teams play. The pace looked to suit Derby as they took an 18-12 lead thanks to a hook shot inside from Lee Goldbrough.
But Thunder came back to end the first as the hosts scored the final nine points to lead 30-25 heading into the second.
Derby struggled to get going in the second period as a long two from the wing by Louis Allen gave the hosts a 36-29 cushion. A further six unanswered from Worthing, mid-way through then gave them a 46-36 advantage.
The visitors however ended the quarter the stronger of the two sides as back-to-back buckets from the consistent Raheem Thompson-May narrowed the gap, but Worthing still enjoyed a 52-44 lead going into the break.
That lead though was quickly wiped out as Shalvoy hit five points, back-to-back subsequently levelling the game at 54-54 with just under two minutes of the third played.
Worthing’s attacking style of basketball seemed to desert them as Derby’s defence was organised and affective. A three from Dan Watts brought the third to a close with the visitors in front, 80-75.
The pace of the game was still high, but as the minutes ticked down, both teams were beginning to make mistakes. Fortunately for Thunder, Derby made some critical ones down the stretch that allowed Allen and Chavis to spark a 7-0 run that tied the game early in the final period at 84-84.
But as both sides traded leads, Derby had theirs at the game’s most vital moment, as Shalvoy took it upon himself to lead Derby with the final six of his team’s seven points, that ultimately gave them victory.