On Saturday night at the Thunderdome in Worthing, a packed audience enjoyed a mighty battle between two teams well known to each other and respectful of each other’s primary assets……outstanding shooting skills of Thunder against a well drilled and talented Rockets side. In the end the Thunder edged it in the last 19 secs.
The game began with a titanic battle as both teams fought for early supremacy. Tim Gill scored Rockets first points with his traditional offensive rebound and score before Jonny Foulds drove and finished and then stroked the only treble of the opening period. Worthing’s two key players, Zaire Taylor and Mathis Marquis began their assault on the Rockets basket and took the quarter 24-16. However a 12-3 run at the start of the second quarter saw Rockets take a slender lead 28-27 . A Thunder steal saw the lead change and they went on a 10-0 run to have a 38-30 advantage midway through this second period. An excellent length of the court vision and pass from Declan Soukup gave Gill an easy score before Gill went base line to bring Rockets closer but still adrift 36-42 at the interval by which time Foulds and Ed Potter had hit season high first half scores of 10 and 9 points respectively whilst Declan Soukup was masterminding the Rockets plays as he sent assists to all parts of the court finding open players.
Rockets were on fire after the half time de-brief and went on a 8-2 run to bring the scores level on 44. This was repeated on 46, 50 and 66 as both teams had their best offensive quarters. Sydney Donaldson came alive with 10 personal points whilst Scotty Hendricks and Danny Carter stroked trebles. The Thunders go-to man, Taylor, stroked some great shots and got the packed Thunderdome into a frenzy, great atmosphere. A foul as Taylor was shooting from beyond the arc as the clock counted down, was capitalised by him and saw Thunder edge ahead 69-66 as the final quarter beckoned.
Rockets turned on the after burners as they went on a 9-0 run to lead 75-69 within 3 minutes of the re-start and in appearing to score again, Foulds was called for a charging foul, his fourth. Potter was stripped of the ball as he rose to score and Taylor shot from way down town to give Thunder a 77-74 advantage with 6 minutes to go. Soukup gave an assist to Donaldson who hit a treble before he drove to score again and see Rockets lead 82-78 with 4 minutes to go. Five unanswered points from Taylor gave Thunder the narrowest of leads but then a game changing referee decision saw Foulds fouled out on being called for an unsportsmanlike foul though the commentator, and by the relevant silence that fell over the Thunderdome, so did the majority of the Thunder fans, who thought Thunder captain Okoronkwo had fouled Foulds milli-seconds before in the same contest for the ball. Thunder scored from the free throws but Potter added more for Rockets who were one down with 2 minutes to go. Up steps Taylor again but again Potter finished a Soukup assist to leave the score 86-87 with 44.6 secs remaining. Thunder scored to lead by 3 and a big Hendricks treble effort was blocked by Okoronkwo and Thunder hit another penalty score to take the win 90-86.
A great battle with the result in the balance till the last few seconds. Noisy and appreciative crowd. The best of English basketball.
Top scorers for Rockets were Ed Potter with a double double of 17 pts and 11 rebounds, Tim Gill also with a double double of 16 pts., and 12 rebounds; Sydney Donaldson with 15 pts.; ,Jonny Foulds with 12 pts., and 3 steals and Declan Soukup with a double double of 10 pts., and 11 assist together with 5 rebounds in a great all round display.