Worthing Thunder lose out to Solent and Okoronkwo

Former Worthing Thunder captain Brandon Okoronkwo scored 16 points against his old side. Picture by Kyle Hemsley
Former Worthing Thunder captain Brandon Okoronkwo scored 16 points against his old side. Picture by Kyle Hemsley

Worthing Thunder were beaten by visiting Solent Kestrels 70 – 88 in their second outing in Basketball England’s Division One Championship last Saturday.

The Kestrels pipped Thunder to the Championship last season by the narrowest of margins and also defeated Worthing in the Play-Off final in Manchester last May so there was ample motivation for the home team to seek revenge in front of a virtual full-house at Worthing Leisure Centre.

It was also an occasion to welcome back to Worthing former captain and fans’ favourite Brendon Okoronkwo this time however, turning out in the red vest of the Kestrels. Okoronkwo turned in his usual solid performance scoring 16 points for the visitors and helping them to a comfortable victory against his former team-mates.

In a low-scoring first quarter where both sides traded baskets it was Thunder who opened the scoring with two baskets from Tom Ward putting Thunder into a 4-0 lead - sadly the only lead that the home team were to see in the entire match.

Although Kestrels went into the first break with a slender 16-14 lead, the second quarter was dominated by the visitors and, with Thunder unable to find their range from distance, it was Solent who ended the half with a convincing 47-26 lead.

Thunder came out for the second half with more determination and trimmed the 21 point lead down to 13 but a further 6-0 run put Solent firmly back in control eventually finishing the quarter ahead by 15 at 65-50.

Thunder continued to battle to get back into the game and with seven minutes to go a missed driving lay-out from Cameron Hildreth which just rimmed out and which would have cut the lead to 11 points seemed to signal that it was not to be Thunder’s night.

The rest of the match was played out in fairly even fashion with Solent winning the quarter 23-20 to take the match spoils 88 -70.

Thunder have previously relied heavily on their outside shooting and only making 9 shots from 34 from beyond the arc signified that it was not one of their better nights.

It also served to emphasise the pressure the visiting defence imposed on Thunder’s shooting with their aggressive and powerful defending preventing the home side from too many open looks at the basket and out-rebounding the home side on the boards 57-36.

Thunder can have little complaint about the result but will seek to get the show back into gear next weekend when they play host to Derby Trailblazers on Saturday 12th October tip-off 7.30 pm.

Top scorers for Thunder: Tom Ward (20 points); Kayne King (16 points); Zaire Taylor (15 points); Alex Owumi (12 points); Cameron Hildreth (4 points); Ishmael Fontaine (3 points)