BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE In a game that summed up their season in a nutshell, the North-West Thunder have ended their maiden NBL1 campaign on a positive note with a dramatic 103-95 victory over Waverley at Ulverstone on Saturday night.
However it was the home side who set the standard, taking advantage of the visitor’s porous defence to score at will and build a seemingly insurmountable 85-64 lead at three-quarter time.
But as has been witnessed on multiple occasions this season, the Thunder don’t do comfortable wins well, and endured some nervy moments as Waverley surged in the final 10 minutes.
After scoring the opening two points of the term, the hosts started to feel the pressure and gave up a 14-0 run to the Falcons to suddenly see their lead trimmed to nine points with just over five minutes left.
A three-pointer by Kai Woodfall helped take the lead back out to 14 points with 3:30 remaining but Waverley surged again through Dylan Travis, with the guard single-handedly trying to keep his team in with a chance thanks to a succession of long-range bombs.
The Thunder finally were able to get some cheap points at the foul line to seal the result and finish the season with an 8-12 record and 13th place on the 18-team ladder.
“The game summed up our season but we spoke about using every bit of the 40 minutes tonight, and although they made a run at us we used every bit of the 40 minutes to get the job done,” coach Sam Armstrong said.
“I’m proud of the guys for hanging tough and showing a bit of character in front of our home fans – Waverley are a good team and were in play-off contention coming into this weekend.
“Our first three quarters were outstanding and the three areas we chart – rebounds, assists and turnovers – were all in our favour.
“We gave away the ball a bit late but we still finished 26 assists to 14 turnovers and won the rebound count by 13 which was really pleasing.”
Import Nick Banyard overcame a heavy fall in the opening quarter to record 29 points and 16 rebounds for the Thunder in an impressive performance, with Jordan Bowling adding 17 points and Paul Campbell 15 points.
“That was Nick’s style of play tonight, he’s athletic and gave us first opportunity in transition,” Armstrong said.
“It was a huge game from him and he’s put two of those together to finish off the season well.”