Thunderbolts grace Inverell

Tamworth Thunderbolts ramped up their State League preparations at the Inverell Invitational tournament on Saturday.

He's back: American import Kyle Gupton has returned to Tamworth and blew out some cobwebs during the Inverell Invitational on Saturday.

He's back: American import Kyle Gupton has returned to Tamworth and blew out some cobwebs during the Inverell Invitational on Saturday.

The 11-strong Thunderbolts roster headed to the Northern Tablelands for a series of exhibition matches against two local sides.

Despite oppressive conditions, Tamworth coach John Ireland said the round-robin contest was timely just three weeks out from opening tip-off of the season proper.

"It was a good hit-out for us up there and gave us a great opportunity to run a number of guys on the floor," Ireland said.

"The heat made it tough, but we rotated a number of blokes through the two teams we had entered and got plenty out of the day."

Star American import Kyle Gupton blew out the cobwebs in his return Down Under ahead of a second season with the Thunderbolts, pleasing Ireland with his contribution.

“Kyle’s been great for us as much off the court as on it and it is fantastic we’ve got him back,” he said.

Ireland was encouraged by the performances of Armidale talent Scott McGann, point guard Max Chillingworth and Ricky Ward.

“Scott is a 17 year-old forward who is around 195-198cm and impressed,” he said.

“Max was aggressive at the hoop and ran the offence, while Ricky is a kid we're expecting to step up this season and play a bigger role for us.

“He really set the tone in defence.”

The Thunderbolts open their Waratah League division one campaign with a home game against Central Coast on March 4.

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