A depleted Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm came within three points of the USA-Select touring side at Hemel Leisure Centre on Saturday in a pre-season challenge match.
Without four potential starting five players who were side-lined with injuries picked-up in early season training, Hemel succumbed 100 – 97 in a valiant effort.
But there were positive signs that the new up-tempo style of play will be thrilling for fans to watch this season especially when the squad returns to full fitness.
“I don’t think ‘crisis’ is too strong a word to describe our current position,” said Associate Head Coach Dave Titmuss, “with our entire front line - Tom Adorian, Leome Francis, Mike Darlow - and guard Leon Henry all missing on Saturday.
“We’re not ready technically yet but I was pleased with our spirit and commitment which are important qualities that will stand us in good stead when we start the season in earnest in a couple of weeks’ time. “
Only Darlow is not expected to recover from ankle ligament damage before Storm takes on Thames Valley Cavaliers in a National Trophy clash at home on Saturday September 22nd. ,tip-off 7pm.
And the Club is on the verge of signing another quality player from the BBL. An announcement is expected shortly.
Head Coach Robert Youngblood who was delayed in the ‘States after visiting family during the summer will return to the Club this week before training camp at the weekend.
On Saturday never more than three points separated the sides until after the half time break. With Hemel trailing 50 - 47 some intense defence followed by new signing Blayne Freckleton’s consecutive three-pointers looked to put them in control. Storm won the quarter 28 – 21 and led 75 – 71 going into the final stanza.
In the last period the visitors got back on terms and the teams then swapped baskets. With Storm 95 – 93 ahead Ryan Winkler fired in a heavily pressured long-range effort to put USA-Select ahead by one point. Hemel were forced to foul to stop the clock and the visitors sealed the win from the free-throw line despite the home team’s effort to tie with a Freckleton three-pointer that bounced off the rim.
Storm team and scorers: Blayne Freckleton 24, Bode Adeluola 24, Jack Burnell 13, Brett Cannon 12, Will Ashby 8, Jamie Hayes 6, Sam Dunscombe 6, Ian Berry 4, Oliver Ladlow.
Storm’s next home game is on Saturday 22nd September against Thames Valley Cavaliers in the National Trophy, tip-off at 7pm at Hemel Leisure Centre.
Blayne Freckleton & Bode Adeluola joint top scorers with 24 points each
(photos by Lin Titmuss)