Hemel Storm 80 – 83 Newcastle (National League Division One)
Hemel Storm led for almost their entire National League Division One game in Newcastle on Saturday but lost 80 – 83 when in a dramatic climax the home team sank five consecutive free-throws in the last minute to steal victory.
In a nail-biting, hard-fought encounter Vanarama-sponsored Storm threatened several times to break away throughout the game but failed to build on leads including the biggest a 14 - 5 advantage in the first quarter.
The hosts went ahead for the first time in the second half at 75 – 73 with under three minutes to play behind an Eric Stafford jumper, but Hemel’s Bode Adeluola restored the advantage nailing a three-pointer from the corner.
And after the home team’s David Hanson replied immediately with a triple of his own Storm’s Levi Noel knotted the scores at 78 when he sank both free-throws following a foul on his drive to the basket.
Hemel’s 6’ 9” forward Tom Adorian put his side 80 – 78 ahead going into the last minute but the drama for Hemel’s travelling supporters wasn’t over. Newcastle went ahead again 81 – 80 after free-throws but Storm had the ball and a chance to win.
Adeluola’s driving shot missed with 14 seconds left and after a scramble for the ball Hemel were awarded possession on the baseline under Newcastle’s basket.
Hemel’s Head Coach Robert Youngblood called time-out to set-up a last ditch play but the inbounds pass was stolen and Newcastle’s Stafford was able to ice the result from the free-throw line with a couple of seconds left.
Storm were paced by 18 points apiece from Noel and Adorian. Adorian also pulled down 11 rebounds and Noel had eight boards and six assists. Blayne Freckleton chipped in a double-double performance from the back-court of 11 points and 10 assists.
A disappointed Coach Youngblood said: “We didn’t play with a sense of urgency. We were sluggish throughout the game and our decision-making at times was just not at a high enough level.
“Even though we turned the ball over on the last play when we had the chance to win it we really shouldn’t have been in that position. All credit to Newcastle, they took advantage of their size down the stretch and also nailed some big perimeter shots. On balance they deserved to win.
“We’re still trying to find a comfortable rhythm to our game but are not yet consistent at both ends of the floor for 40 minutes. But we’ll learn from this loss and move on.”
Storm team and scorers: Tom Adorian 18, Levi Noel 18, Blayne Freckleton 11, Bode Adeluola 9, Will Ashby 7, Ian Berry 7, Jamie Hayes 4, Leon Henry 3, Leome Francis 3, Jack Burnell, Sam Dunscombe.
Storm slip to tenth place in the League table after the weekend’s fixtures but will hope to recover this weekend when they play Bradford Dragons at Hemel Leisure Centre on Saturday (tip-off 7pm). And they are in League action again the next day away to Reading Rockets. Tickets and information in the drop-down menu above
Picture caption: Storm’s Tom Adorian produced a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
(Photo: Lin Titmuss)