Encouraging signs as Under 16s end on a high
Three back-to-back home fixtures marked the end of the season for Rutland Thunders this weekend with the Under 14s, Under 16s and Under 18 boys playing in the NBL Midlands East league.
The Under 14s were first up against a confident top of the league Mansfield Giants side who eventually ran out 50-85 winners.
Thunders rose to the occasion with a fantastic first half and were one point up at the end of the second quarter.
But the Giants' strength in depth shone through in second half and they pulled away to win the game.
Sam Sykes and George Watt were both in the thick of it throughout, putting in big shifts for Thunders and rallied some tired team-mates to the end despite the unflattering scoreline.
Any trepidation the Rutland Thunders Under 16s might have felt coming into their game against Nottingham Hoods - after a very one sided experience they had previously endured earlier in the season - quickly evaporated in a very competent performance in their final game as they triumphed 73-69.
The home side displayed great resolve, composure and solid team-work which was typical of their season to date, leaving this developing team in a very respectable position in the NBL Midlands East league table.
Numerous points from a dominant Ethan Needham and notable contributions from Isaac Fair and Noah Evans enabled the Thunders to keep pace with the Hoods in an exciting, tense game, with only a few points separating the two teams at any time.
The ebb and flow finally swung in Thunders favour during the last period. The score was levelled at a nail-biting 69-69 with only a minute to go when baskets from Needham and Evans closed out the Hoods as the buzzer sounded, much to the delight of the Thunders and their vociferous supporters.
It was an excellent and well deserved finish to the year and very encouraging signs for next season.
The Under 18s were involved in a physical encounter with Derbyshire Spartans who claimed the spoils after a 58-99 success.
Both teams traded baskets like-for-like in the first quarter but the skilful and disciplined Spartans gradually edged away, leading by a significant points difference going into the fourth quarter.
With their sights set on a 100-points plus victory, the Spartans were frustrated by an unflappable Thunders defence in the dying minutes to keep them at bay and limit the damage to 99.
Rutland Thunders train throughout the summer and are always looking for new players of all ages and potential sponsors.
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