North-West Thunder defeat Southern Sabres 96-63 in its opening game of the NBL1 season

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   A three-point barrage from Tre Armstong has given the North-West Thunder the perfect start to its new NBL1 campaign, easily defeating the Southern Sabres 96-63 at Ulverstone on Saturday night.

Armstrong was fire from beyond the arc, sinking six of eight attempts in the first half as the home side galloped out to a 55-35 lead by the main break.

The 19-year-old, who is bound for college in the US later in the year, added another two long-rang bombs in the second half on his way to a game-high 32 points.

While Armstrong’s shooting was impressive, he was helped by a Thunder offence that was purring on all cylinders for most of the first half, with quick ball movement stretching the Sabres defence and resulting in open looks from the perimeter.

The hosts didn’t let up after half-time either, forcing the visitors into regular turnovers and never giving them a chance to mount a comeback.

Thunder coach Sam Armstrong, who was a renowned three-point specialist himself back in his playing days, was happy with what he saw from both his team and his nephew.

“It is never going to be perfect in round one – you’re still feeling your way through things – but we showed tonight that our offence will work if we execute it, and we were really good in patches defensively,” he said.

“When we are able to get consecutive stops and play out of the defensive end into offence, that’s when we are going to be at our best.

“Ball movement is paramount for us and that will be the brand of basketball we’ll try to play – if we do that, anyone can score at anytime.

“Tre found his rhythm early and once he settled in, he let the offence come to him.

“He was on the end of plenty of stuff which was really good, he didn’t go searching for it, and was able to knock shots down.

“If we can get him good looks like that each week, he is more than likely going to knock them down for us.”

Also impressing for the Thunder was new starting point guard Lachlan Dent, who ended his debut performance with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

“It was a really solid game from him – he controlled the tempo for us, made great decisions, and was able to score as well,” Armstrong said.

“Sometimes he is actually too unselfish and passes up a good shot, but he’ll only get better.”

Import Jordan Bowling added 14 points and Reyne Smith 11 points in just 12 minutes of court time.

The Sabres struggled to find a consistent scoring threat all game and were led by Samuel McDaniel and James Cigognini with 11 points each.