WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club lost a thrilling National League Division 1 encounter at home to Leicester Warriors on Saturday.
In an electrifying finale, a bucket from Selby Hind-Wills narrowed Leicester’s lead to 82-81. The visitors could only add another point to their tally after that but it proved to be enough, as Brendan Okoronkwo put up a well-contested three-pointer with time running down, which proved to be too strong. Hind-Wills collected the offensive board but was unable to put a last shot up.
Okoronkwo, who finished with a game-high 22 points, said: “I wanted to drive to the hoop as I’d been successful all game doing that, but unfortunately they blocked all the routes to the basket and seeing the clock winding down, the first thoughts were to shoot it.
“It’s hard to lose games like this, though, especially without your two Americans, but we can hold our heads up at the performance we gave, it’s just a shame we fell short.”
Worthing were without the services of both Americans, Milton Chavis (shoulder injury) and Hank Rivers (unavailable), and Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “I’m very proud of the guys tonight.
“They worked hard all game long and showed great commitment at both ends of the floor. Decisions I feel went against us down the stretch but congratulations to Leicester for a great team performance and getting the win.
“Playing without our two Americans was always going to be hard, but our character and belief made this performance what it was. Everyone on the floor contributed, but unfortunately, results go your way or they don’t and tonight, it didn’t.”
A 10-0 run from the hosts, inspired by four points from Okoronkwo, cancelled out Leicester’s opening bucket in the first few minutes, as Thunder looked to take the early initiative. The visitors though fought back with a 7-0 run of their own, to narrow the gap to a single point.
After a free-flowing first ten minutes, Thunder led 25-18.
Worthing moved 34-24 ahead in the second period but Leicester fought back to reduce the deficit to 47-43 by half-time.
Leicester went ahead with 5min 34sec remaining of the third as Thunder became too reliant on shooting from long range.
However, baskets from Hind-Wills and Josh Brown put Thunder back ahead and a three-point play from Okoronkwo put the hosts 66-65 ahead with one stanza to play.
Warriors scored the first six points of the final period, as Worthing struggled to execute.
Okoronkwo got the hosts off and running by splitting free throws and, soon enough, Warriors had called a time-out as a three-pointer from Brown and a score from Louis Allen made it a one-point game for the visitors at 75-74.
With a thrilling finale in sight, Thunder could sense victory, but it was not to be.
Worthing, who remain sixth in the table, travel to eighth-placed Manchester Magic on Saturday.