Worthing Thunder 105 (20,45,70) (Makalainen 27, Zabas 26, Bratton 21)
Newcastle Eagles 99 (22,52,69) (Chapman 24, Bridge 21, Smith 19)
Worthing Thunder moved into the play-off places with a dramatic 105-99 win over reigning champions Newcastle Eagles.
An 8-0 close to the match, which included a go-ahead three-point shot by Evalda Zabas with two seconds left, proved to be the difference between the sides.
Looking to keep the pressure on Sheffield Sharks at the top of the table an Andrew Bridge three got Newcastle off the best possible start. That three-point lead was the largest advantage either team had in the first quarter as another Bridge bomb from beyond the arc put his team 20-22 up after ten minutes.
The Eagles enjoyed the better of the second quarter with a 7-0 run giving them a 28-37 lead. A later 11-5 burst stretched it to 41-52 before free throws from Kadiri Richard and Ville Makalainen (pictured) trimmed the deficit to 45-52 at half time.
Thunder continued to close the gap with first Sherad Prezzie-Blue and then Sam Cricelli knocking down shots to make it a two-point game. And the comeback was complete at 67-67 following James Brame’s free throw. Evaldas Zabas edged the home side in front 70- 69 to end the third quarter.
Reggie Bratton’s five free throws early in the final stanza gave Thunder their biggest lead of the night at 79-75. But all it did was inspire the Eagles to put together an 18-9 run to move ahead 88-93.
A Bratton three kept Thunder in touch as the match was tied at 93, 97 and 99 before Zabas put Worthing ahead for good. Makalainen sealed the points from the charity stripe after the Eagles ‘Hail Mary’ pass had sailed through the endline to give Worthing their second win of 2010.