THE trip to face Preston Pride in the National Basketball League Men’s Under-18s North West division saw Barrow Thorns return empty-handed after suffering a 97-57 loss.

Thorns welcomed back several key players for this derby clash and made an impressive start, with Shea Whelan and Dan James providing good scoring at the rim while Abe Brown and Joe Carroll hit the target from the three-point line.

The team took a blow towards the end of the first quarter, however, as Max Sharpe went down with an injury and James picked up his third foul, but with a strong defensive effort to see out the quarter ensured the thorns held onto the lead at 23-22.

During the second quarter, the Pride began to pull away. Alex Courtman provided an offensive spark for Barrow off the bench, while Franz Pajarillaga gave a boost of energy to the team’s defence but the Pride continued to add to their lead.

James came back into the game towards the end of the quarter and combined well with Whelan to keep the Thorns in the game, but Preston went in at half time holding the lead.

Following the half time break, the third period began with the teams trading baskets evenly. Sharpe returned to the game for the Thorns providing additional and much needed help with rebounding the basketball.

But as the quarter rolled on, tempers flared between the two rival teams culminating in a scuffle which led to Carroll fouling out of the game and a member of the Pride receiving a technical foul.

Following this, Preston managed to maintain their grip on the game and see it out to be eventual 97-57 winners.

It was a tough loss for the Thorns, who do not play again until February 23, but impressive performances from the younger bench players are the main positive to take from the game and give the team hope to overcome their rivals next season.