Thunder too strong for Rockets in first game

Worthing Thunder head coach Daniel Hildreth chats with his team last season. Picture: Andre Nichols

Worthing Thunder head coach Daniel Hildreth chats with his team last season. Picture: Andre Nichols

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Worthing Thunder Basketball Club got their season off and running with a 78-71 National Trophy victory over Reading Rockets on Saturday.

It was a promising start to the season for Thunder, with an impressive debut display from Lyonell Gaines.

He posted decent numbers of 32 points and 12 rebounds as he played a starring role in Worthing’s victory.

Tom Ward ended with a tally of 16 points, while Jack Sunderland chipped in with 12 with Thunder running out comfortable victors.

Worthing head coach Daneil Hildreth felt it was an ideal way to start their National Trophy trail.

He said: “It was a fantastic start to our trophy campaign. We knew how important the game was especially in a smaller group. A win next week and we are in a semi final.

“That’s our goal, one game at a time and then on to the next.

“It was a total team effort with everyone contributing both on and off the court.

The support from the bench was so important to maintaining a high level of play.

“We had to play without Brendan (Okoronkwo) too which only goes to show how good we can be at full strength. I was very pleased for Lyonell who in his first game played very composed on offence and has settled in very well in a short time.

“His hard work and effort he has displayed everyday in practice is evidence that it is paying off.

“Down the stretch the guys held their nerve, trusted each other and a big shot from Jack Sunderland followed by an inspirational defensive play from 15-year-old Hosana Kitenge sealed the deal.

“Early signs for us are good right now, manly with the fact there is a lot of room for improvement.

“The team spirit and cohesion is what I am most impressed with at this stage and that’s a credit to them all.

“We go away to Solent on Saturday and after another week of practice I expect to see further improvements.”

Reading led for the majority of the contest, they edged ahead 19-16 after the first quarter before Worthing fought back in the second period to narrow the gap to a single point at 41-40 at the half.

The visitors seemed to find an extra gear in the third quarter and took a 61-57 cushion going into the fourth.

But Thunder, who were inspired by Sunderland 
and teenager Kitenge 
handed Worthing that final push to an eventual 
victory.

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