2014 – Thunder beaten in thriller
Leopards made a winning start to life at Harlow Leisure Zone as Worthing Thunder were beaten 80-76 in the National Trophy, on Saturday. The Big Cats had trailed by as many as seven points in the third period and were still down by two at the final break before they took control in the fourth period to end Thunder’s perfect start to the season.
The home side had to do without coach Robert Youngblood for the majority of the game as he was stuck on the M11 for three hours, but Roger Malpass took charge of the team and picked up his first win as play-caller. The Leopards also had to borrow a kit from Harlow Hawks as theirs was stuck with Youngblood.
Albert Margai led the Big Cats with 22 points, with Dave Ajomobi adding 18, Lawrence Brown 17 and Courtney Van Beest nine .
The travel problems and slightly delayed start didn’t affect the home side as Ajumobi and Brown hit four points apiece as they rushed into an 11-0 lead to force a timeout from Thunder coach Danny Hildreth.
The move worked as Leopards were held to seven points in the final seven minutes of the period, and despite Ajumobi scoring the final basket of the quarter, they saw their lead shaved to 18-15 at the first period.
Van Beest opened the second period with a lay-up but Thunder gradually chipped away at the lead and went ahead for the first time at 30-28 when Milton Chavis scored. Both teams would trade buckets for the final three minutes of the half before buckets from Van Beest and Brown gave Leopards a narrow 35-34 lead going into the locker room at half-time.
Brown opened the second half scoring and Leopards went on a 7-0 run as they took command but the south coast side fought back with Brendan Okoronkwo putting them 47-46 ahead with a three and a lay-up.
Thunder’ lead grew to seven points towards the end of the third but it was narrowed to 55-53 on the third quarter buzzer thanks to a three by Ajumobi. The visitors began the final period the stronger as buckets by Selby Hind-Wills and Chavis extended Worthing’s lead at 58-53. But a three pointer from Nathan Ashby sparked a strong finish to the game from Leopards and despite a rather strange foul call on Margai, Ajumobi and Margai wrapped up the win at the foul line,
Chavis led Worthing with 20, while John Wilkins added 11.