Basketball: Thunder deserve a clap

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The University of Chichester Thunder have been busy on court - and followed a defeat to Bracknell with double-header delight against Southampton and Woking sides.

University of Chichester Thunder 65 Bracknell Cobras 84

In the last game at the temporary home venue of Sir Robert Woodard Academy, the size difference between the teams was obvious early on as the Cobras’ big men started to finish with ease.

However the Thunder also looked strong with a new man-to-man obstinate defence. It allowed their guards to pressurise the Cobras guards, which saw McLaren get two early steals, converted into transition buckets, as well as catching a well-timed alley-oop lay-in tossed up by Barbary.

Coach Eman also came in to make an impact, scoring off some quick ball movement in the half court set. The Cobras answered with a two smooth jump-shots to lead 17-15.

Thunder ensured the Cobras had a game on their hands, playing with energy and vigour. The difference was in the execution of plays - Cobras’ shots were falling and Thunder’s weren’t.

Odulaja drew fouls from Thunder’s guards and MacCauley was getting to the spots he wanted on offence. Thunder attacked and Barbary demonstrated his speed.

The Thunder trailed 35-28 at halfway.

The third quarter was a real test for the Thunder - with only eight players rotating they were starting to tire and there was a lack of defensive pressure.

The Cobras capitalised and started to pull away. The Thunder battled and showed good character, contesting many rebounds with Hield and Eman inside, while Scanlon made a couple of jump shots.

The streaking Cobras connected for a spectacular dunk and finished the third 63-47 up.

With a 16-point deficit going into the fourth quarter, the Thunder knew they needed to find something special but they tired towards the end.

Cobras once again capitalised on this to see out the game 84-65. The game lived up to expectations but Thunder can be proud of their performance.

THUNDER: McLaren 21, Davies 16, Barbary 10, Hield 9.

University of Chichester Thunder 73 Southampton Sharks 56

The Thunder’s double header weekend started with a visit from Southampton Sharks.

This fixture was all the more significant given the tough defeat Southampton handed the Thunder in their first meeting, beating them in the last seconds.

The Thunder were playing at the home of EBL division-one side Worthing Thunder, the legendary Thunderdome.

Davies and Scanlon nailed a couple of jumpers and Hield was aggressive offensively, using his quickness to his advantage.

Marshall hit a three-pointer to give the Thunder an 11-0 lead which forced the Sharks to call a time-out.

The Sharks finally managed to find some offence and penetrated past the Thunder guards to score at the rim. The first quarter ended with Thunder 20-11 up.

In the second the Thunder kept their foot on the pedal with McLaren scoring consecutive baskets. Hield continued to attack the rim and he was given the opportunity for free throws after Southampton’s big men reached in at the last moment.

Barbary came in to give the Thunder a boost, making a pair of lay-ups to keep Thunder 33-28 ahead at halfway.

In the third Thunder guard Scanlon went on a scoring tear. He hit multiple tough inside and outside shots, relishing the opportunity to display his skills to the crowd. This gave the Thunder some breathing room entering the fourth - they led 58-40.

Barbs came through to nail a three-point shot but the Sharks finally found their form and went on a run of their own scoring eight unanswered points.

This was little consolation however as Barbs attacked the hoop at the other end and Davies scored a strong bucket to see out the game.

University of Chichester 84 Woking Blackhawk Flyers 76

The Thunder were pumped up for the second part of the double header against unpredictable Woking.

The venue was the Chichester’s SARC which was looking good with new nets fitted.

Thunder exploded out the blocks with Scanlon hitting two consecutive three-point shots to put Thunder 6-0 up immediately.

McLaren scored six points of his own including a well-executed alley-oop dunk tossed up by Scanlon and finished with power by McLaren.

The first ended with Thunder demonstrating their offensive prowess and leading 30-11.

In the second many of Thunder’s offences fell flat. This ended in multiple missed shots and clear frustration from the players.

The Flyers seemed to be scoring at will under the basket with the lack of communication defensively from the Thunder.

With nine seconds left in the quarter Adam Hield took a pass and dribbled full-court only to let off a one-footed three-point heave which went in off the backboard.

At halfway, the Thunder were 40-28 up.

The Flyers built on their momentum in the third and Thunder had no answer.

The game started to turn in favour of the Flyers as they hit 27 points in the quarter, ending tied at 53-53.

It came down to who wanted it more in the fourth, and although the Thunder must have been physically tired they started to put together strings of passes that ended in well timed shots from Scanlon and McLaren going down.

Barbary stepped up to hit two massive three-point shots. This sparked the Thunder into attack, with everyone starting to get in on the action.

Lynch made a solid lay-up in the post and Hield managed to squeeze between the two bigger defenders to get his lay-up to go.

With two minuntes to go, the Thunder were up by only four. However, lessons learned in previous games appeared to help the Thunder pull through as they demonstrated patience, composure and execution.

Eman and Scanlon were fouled and hit their foul shots to seal victory for the Thunder, although the Flyers hit a three-point shot with seconds left.

THUNDER: McLaren 23, Scanlon 22, Barbary 19.

Thunder are second in EBL division four south west with seven wins and three losses - and will look to build on this momentum in the new year.