Worthing Thunder split their double-header weekend, beating an improved Leicester Warriors side 80-79, but with key injury problems, lost to the BA London Leopards in the National Trophy quarter-final 84-74.
Thunder, keen to get to get back to winning ways in the league were made to work by a Leicester side that had made major improvements since the group stages of the National Trophy, where Worthing soundly beat them 86-54.
The game was close throughout; Marcus Tullis led Thunder with 26 points, supported by 16 points for Hank Rivers.
Vinnie Darpino hit 11 points for the victors but his game was cut a little short when he pulled his hamstring in the third quarter. This injury prevented him from playing against London Leopards the next day.
Leicester game was another out of sync performance for us a unit and Vinnie getting injured didn’t make it any easier but we grinded it out and got the win which is all that matters,” Tullis said afterwards.
Despite a weakened squad, Worthing put in as good a performance as they could against a strong London Leopards side, led by Ousman Krubally and Vernon Teel, who both grabbed double-doubles of 22 points and 15 rebounds, with the latter having 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Thunder was without Darpino and Liam Mitchell, who were both injured. Mitchell injured his foot last week, and unfortunately aggravated it the morning before the Leopards game, leaving Thunder with only seven players. Darpino was suited to make eight, but he was needed only as a last resort.
Worthing was led by Marcus Tullis, who led all scorers with 25 points, supported by Hank Rivers’ 21 points and 11 rebound double-double. Fatigue played a factor, as both Tullis and Courtney Small played all 40 minutes due to lack of numbers and were clearly exhausted after the game.
The writing looked to be on the wall early for the visitors, as Thunder found themselves down 21-8 with just over two minutes to play until Rivers scored to bring Thunder’s tally into double-digits.
Thunder were on the back foot though, as the hosts went to work, taking full advantage of Worthing’s missed free throws, as they took a 24-14 lead after the first ten minutes.
The gap only increased in the second quarter as a fresh Leopards team scored at will, keeping the lead at 10-or-over for the majority of the second period. Zak Wells hitting for two to extend Leopards’ lead to 14 (36-22) with 4.01 to play in the half.
Worthing though still kept in touch, and made life uncomfortable for the hosts, Tullis hit to trim the deficit ever-so slightly, but Leopards went into the half-time break 41-29 to the good.
With Worthing’s players starting to feel the strain, they fell behind further, mid-way through the third quarter (60-40) thanks to a John Lister triple, but Thunder would come back strong, hitting back with a 10-2 run and narrowing the gap a little. Leopards though seemed to be in firm control of proceedings, up 66-55 heading to the final ten minutes.
Thunder would get even further into contention as the fourth quarter wore on, narrowing the gap to just five points (70-65) with 7.02 to go on the back of a bucket inside from Rivers. But Leopards maintained control. Lister connected from downtown and Teel hit from the paint to restore the double-digit win and advance to the Trophy semi-finals.
For Thunder, in their first season back in the EBL, they can concentrate on the league now, where they are in a good position, competing for overall honours.
“Honestly I think they wanted that game a little more than we did,” Tullis admitted. “I was proud of the fact that although never really being close throughout we still battled to keep it close, this with an injury-hit team.”
BA London Leopards vs Worthing Thunder FIBA Statcast is here -- http://bit.ly/xxApFO
Member since: 10th July 2012
We promote everything that's great about Worthing & the surrounding areas including Shoreham, Lancing, Worthing all the way to Arundel.
We champion and showcase only the best local independent businesses....