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Image Courtesy | Kai Johnson

Team Solent Kestrels dropped to a 62-81 defeat on the road at Worthing Thunder on Saturday evening, in a disappointing NBL Division 1 performance. The loss saw Thunder clinch 2nd place in the league whilst TSK will have to wait until the final weekend of action to learn their final seeding in the regular season.

The hosts jumped out in frontal 2-6 after a pair of triples, however Gregoire Durand and Elias Poorman responded with back to back lay ups to tie the game at 6, inside 3 minutes. A 7-0 in favour of the Thunder would give them a 6-13 lead after 6 minutes, but Kestrels did rally to cut the gap behind Ricky Madison and Kai Walker. Hafeez Abdul restored a 7 point lead for Worthing, before Poorman and Walker trimmed the arrears to 3 in the final minute, that wouldn’t be enough though as Abdul beat the buzzer to give the hosts a 14-19 advantage.

Ilias Taiwo and Sam Akano came off the bench to pull Kestrels within a point, in the opening phases of the second quarter but the following 2 minutes saw both teams struggle to score. Bessard and Moya exchanged 3 pointers before a 7-2 run for Thunder saw them restore a 6 point deficit and force Kestrels into a timeout, with a little under 5 minutes remaining in the half. Bessard provided the response post timeout, however a further 7 points without reply for the home side, pushed their lead to 11. Madison pulled TSK back to within 9 but Worthing would take an 11 point lead into the half time interval, 29-40.

Thunder opened the second half with a 6-0 scoring run and in turn extended their lead to 17 points at 29-46, which forced Coach Stanley into an early timeout for TSK. Madison scored out of the timeout but it would get worse for the visiting Kestrels, with another 7 unanswered points for Worthing, increasing their advantage to 21. Kestrels rallied to close the quarter and they outscored Worthing 14-5 to cut the deficit down to 12, 46-58 heading into the final 10 minutes.

TSK had themselves back within 10, after a pair of Madison free throws, but Thunder had other ideas as they set about rebuilding their lead with another scoring run, 48-64. The sides traded scores across the 6 minutes mark and this played in Worthing’s favour, as TSK were unable to make any inroads on the Thunder advantage. Abdul extended the gap to 18 points with just under 4 minutes to play and this did ultimately put the game of reach for TSK. Patrick Adedeji came off the bench in an attempt to cut the deficit as he scored 4 straight but it would be in vein, as Worthing held on to their lead winning 62-81.

TSK Head Coach Ben Stanley was frustrated with his teams display, “We didn’t come with the requisite energy and intensity to compete for 40 minutes in a game like today, Worthing are too higher calibre a team to give up 24 fast break points and have 22 turnovers. There were some really positive showings defensively in the half court and we were able to slow them down offensively at times. That said, we are going to have to play at a higher level heading into this final weekend of league play and onto the playoffs.”

Kestrels’ Justin Bessard provided the scoring as he had 14 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Ricky Madison added 10 points and 10 boards. Worthing had 3 guys with 14 points in David Moya, Hafeez Abdul and Ronald Blain to lead their scoring charge.

Kestrels now look to the final weekend of the regular season, where they will travel to Hemel Storm on Saturday (7pm) evening before heading to Reading Rockets on Sunday (4pm).

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