After a nightmare journey up to the Midlands Thunder returned to the South Coast with two hard earned points. This result could prove valuable in the months to come as Thunder strives for the league title which came so close last season. After over six hours on the minibus Thunder were straight off it changed and ready to play within thirty minutes. Hardly any warm up made the game look to be a much harder mission but they showed today what a competitive unit we have here.
The thing that we have this year is the fact that we have a much deeper bench compared to previous seasons. Where as previously we travel with seven or eight players there were twelve names on the team list which was highlighted as coach Nick Stevens rotated the players at regular intervals to great effect.
In a game where the lead changed ten times the home side started strongly but Thunder dug deep to pull the game round and at the first break it was the southern side that were in front by six points leading 24-18. Alex Owumi had a strong quarter as he soon found his range from outside the arc and with Loughborough seemingly intent on fouling him started to hit free throws.
Thunders new man, Dominic Ives was showing his strength under the basket and with the introduction of Cameron Hildreth with five minutes of the period remaining it came alive for the Thunder. Zaire Taylor started to have a big impact on the game as things were looking brighter.
In an even second period the game swung back forth as the teams traded baskets. Again it was the home team who started it strongly but as the quarter went on it was the Thunder who made the half time break in front . With the lead now 42-37 it was all to play for. Again it was Cameron Hildreth who impressed and with the backing of experienced pros Alex Owumi and Zaire Taylor Thunder began to look impressive. Hitting his first points in a Thunder shirt A J Basi was getting more involved and a strong season is expected of this young man. Zaire’s long range trey on the buzzer was just what was required and as the teams headed to the locker room things looked good.
The third quarter was a strong one for Thunder as the lead gradually built. Again with a good all round team effort at the final break the lead had built to nine points. Tom Ward was having a sound game showing how he influences his team mates when he is playing well. Loughborough were relying on Ashley Roberts on his return to their team having being with the Leicester Riders BBL side. It began to look as if Thunder were matching up with him and not the five Loughborough players on court. Thunder were to take a comfortable 65-56 lead into the final ten minutes.
The final stanza started with the sides trading baskets but again as it went on Thunder got stronger with the lead peaking at thirteen points. Again it was emphasised that the additional bodies on the list helps so much as Coach Nick Stevens continued his rotation. Thunder eventually cruised to victory as in the end the result was seldom in doubt to win by 79-72. Highest rating on the stats showed Zaire Taylor as the best all round player but in my opinion the seventeen year old Cameron Hildreth turned the game each time he was introduced into the action.
Thunder travel to Essex Leopards next Saturday (5.45pm tip off) and then on Sunday 3rd November are at home in the National Cup to Ipswich Basketball tipping 5.00pm at the Worthing Leisure Thunder Dome. Ipswich a couple of weeks ago beat Sussex Bears by 10 points with ex Solent Kestrels man Jake Eynon hitting 35 points. Despite being in Division Two it’s going to be a tough game!
After this game Thunder will be auctioning the pink kit that they have been wearing for the last three games in aid of Breast Cancer Research – all are welcome and bids will be accepted now.
SCORERS ( v Loughborough ) Cameron Hildreth 22 Alex Owumi 19 (9 rebounds ) Zaire Taylor 13 (11 rebounds ) Tom Ward 12 AJ Basi 8 Dominic Ives 4 Kayne King 1