Competent and impressive performance by new-look team
Rutland Thunders Under 16s started their New Year with a thrilling 81-75 victory against the Leicester Riders on Saturday.
Thunders had a strong start in the first quarter with a lead of around 10 points after looking dominant against their local rivals who were working hard to close the gap.
Ethan Needham was a consistent power-house in and around the key, claiming an unfailing number of rebounds and scoring a significant number of baskets, assisted by Yuri Comia, who also claimed a hat-trick of three pointers, despite a sustaining a short lived injury.
With the support of a tenacious, vocal team, the ball was passed around with confidence, exploiting holes in a stoic Riders defence.
The two sides battled end-to-end, trading like-for-like baskets throughout the first three quarters with Thunders desperate to capitalise on their lead and Riders eager to narrow the gap.
The visitors’ perseverance and enthusiasm paid off eventually, closing the difference to just one solitary point halfway through the final quarter.
With just over a minute to the buzzer, Thunders managed to steal and break away from their own half, with Gabriel Jackson increasing the lead from 75-74 to 77-74, quickly followed by a Ryan Whitmore play to make it 79-75.
In the dying seconds, Theo White managed an energetic final lay-up to earn Thunders their first win of 2019.
With a new team this season, it was a competent and impressive team performance against a capable and well established opposition.
Coach John Smith commented: “This was one of the best games and team plays ever and I’m loving every bit of it. I’m so happy that the players have a win under their belt, it’s a great way to kick start the new year."
If you’re interested in joining the Under 14, Under 16 or Under 18 teams, or would like to know about sponsorship opportunities, contact coach John Smith at www.rutlandthunders.co.uk