WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club booked their place in the National Cup third round following a hard-fought victory over Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday.
It was far from plain sailing for Thunder against their National Basketball League Division 3 opponents.
Despite being two-divisions lower, Cavaliers fielded a strong side which included some former British Basketball League players.
Thunder were frustrated in the early periods but pulled themselves back later on in the cup clash.
Head coach Daniel Hildreth was always confident his side would come through and said: “We were aware that Thames Valley were beating us and looked good in the first two quarters, but we were playing pretty well ourselves, it was just that our shots weren’t dropping.
“But once we started the third quarter, we ran at them and they gradually got more and more fatigued and the baskets were getting easier for us.
“But make no mistake, Thames Valley are a good team, way above Division 3 standard and they gave us a real tough game.”
Despite playing a team two divisions below, Thunder had to work hard for every bucket, but found a way to score thanks to Tom Ward and Joe Carter. Thames Valley, led by McLemore, were still in touch and the American gave the visitors a 9-8 advantage.
Another bucket from Carter, who caused the Cavs problems, handed Thunder a 15-13 lead but the visitors refused to go away and by the end of the first quarter, led 22-21.
It was the second quarter, where the Cavaliers upped the tempo of the contest, and hounded Worthing whenever they had possession. A 10-2 run, inspired by ex-Thunder guard Luke Sanders, gave the Cavs a 37-27 advantage and forced coach Hildreth to call a timeout.
Josh Brown hit two three-pointers in succession for the hosts but veteran Phillip Pierre, formally of the old Brighton Bears, responded with a triple of his own for Thames Valley and they enjoyed a 46-37 lead at the halfway stage.
However, Thunder rallied in the remainder and Brown scored to level the scores at 56 each mid-way through the third.
The home side then began to take control and in the end managed to come away with a comfortable cup win.
Thunder host Essex Leopards in the National Trophy on Saturday.
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