North-West Thunder stave off Eltham on NBL1 road trip

The Thunder closed their road trip with a hard-fought 100-95 victory over Eltham on Sunday.

The Thunder were in control of the start of the game and effectiveness and offensively led the visitors to a 25-17 advantage at quarter-time and a 46-35 lead at half-time.

The lead remained in double figures for the majority of the third quarter before the Wildcats sparked late to win the term 30-26 to reduce the Thunder’s lead to seven points going into the last.

The Thunder took the lead back out to double figures halfway through the last quarter, but the Wildcats did not stop pushing and consecutive three-pointers from Justin Aver reducing the gap to two points with one minute to go.

But the Thunder held their nerve to secure the five-point win to move their record to 4-3.

Nick Banyard starred with 27 points in the win, supported by Tre Armstrong with 21 and Jordan Bowling with 18.

Armstrong said there were good signs in the win, although they did give up too many easy shots to the Wildcats.

“I think the Eltham game was a tale of two halves, I thought we played some of our best basketball in the first half and took the foot off defensively in the second half to let them back into the game,” Armstrong said.

“It was pleasing that we could close the game out to get a pleasing win on a Sunday afternoon.”

The Thunder opened with a 103-90 loss against the Frankston Blues, with the Blues starting lineup featuring former Thunder player Lachlan Barker.

Banyard led the scoring the loss with 26 points.

Armstrong said the defence let the Blues get away with too much offensively and it will be something that will be a major focus at training.

“I think against Frankston we had too many holes in our defence and it is something we have to improve.

“We haven’t been able to put a full 40-minute performance together on the defensive end and that really hurt us against Frankston.

“We have still have a lot of work to do and we will look to address that before we play at home this week.”

Armstrong said it was a tough slog over the last four games on the road and it will be uplifting to be at home at Ulverstone against the Dandenong Rangers on Saturday.

“We look forward to get to play at home in front of our home fans and having a few extra guys there for our rotations.

“The guys are looking forward to getting back into some familiar environments and we have had it pretty tough with a tough early season schedule and will be good to have some home games.”

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