Hemel Storm 100 v 99 Thames Valley Cavaliers (National Trophy pool game)
Fans were treated to a sizzling season opener at Hemel Leisure Centre on Saturday as Hemel Storm shot down a big and talented Thames Valley Cavaliers squad 100 – 99 in a dramatic National Trophy pool game decided in the last second.
New-look Hemel had to claw back deficits in three of the quarters to stay in touch but a dominant run in the second period saw them recover from a 23 – 28 first period reversal to take a 56 – 49 lead into the half-time break – a margin that was to prove decisive.
The second period spurt included a thunderous dunk that ignited the biggest roar of the evening from the crowd as new Storm signing Levi Noel drove full-court and deftly dropped a perfectly weighted, no-look pass behind him to trailing power forward Leome Francis who leapt to slam the ball home.
The game’s dramatic, nail-biting climax was like watching two prize-fighters slogging it out and saw the visitors close to two points, 94 – 92 on free-throws from their captain Martelle McLemore with less than a minute to go.
Vanarama-sponsored Storm’s next possession was text book stuff as they patiently worked the ball to Francis who deftly drove inside the key and spun to score at close-range taking the score to 96 – 92 Hemel.
Cavaliers’ Teejay Amu responded immediately with a mid-range jump-shot after a mix-up in Hemel’s defence to move the visitors back within two points, 96 – 94, before Storm sprung Adeluola loose to swish the most crucial three-pointer of the game and give his side a 99 – 94 advantage with less than 15 seconds to play.
Once again the visitors responded with a two-point basket from Prince Lartey followed by a foul on Hemel’s Leon Henry in a tactical move to stop the game clock. Henry sank one of his two free-throws and moved the score to 100 – 96 but on Cavaliers next possession and despite Storm’s intense defensive effort, McLemore fired a long-range effort from well outside the three-point arc which found nothing but net to make it a one point game at 100 – 99.
And with less than a second to go the visitors’ Lartey stole the inbounds pass but didn’t have enough time to score a potentially match-winning shot.
The Storm faithful were treated to a virtuoso individual performance from skipper Bode Adeluola who sank 36 points including six three-pointers and had three assists and five rebounds.
And his team combined to splash a Club record fifteen three-pointers as Levi Noel (4), Leon Henry (2), Blayne Freckleton (2) and Will Ashby (1) all connected on long-range efforts.
“We have the players this season to make those kind of shots,” said Head Coach Robert Youngblood, “we were completely outsized but we weren’t phased by it and in the end the rebound count at 40/50 to them was acceptable given the obvious physical difference between the teams.
“Our team balance has been affected by the preseason injuries but I thought we adapted and battled well and played with a lot of heart.”
And Associate Head Coach Dave Titmuss who’s working closely with Coach Youngblood this season, added: “We know we have to play differently from last year because of all the roster changes but it’s an exciting brand of basketball to watch and we’ll only get better at executing it.”
Storm are still without potential starters 6’ 9” Tom Adorian and 6’ 6” forward Mike Darlow through injuries they sustained in preseason training and there is no certain date for their return.
Saturday’s win was a case of ‘déjà vu’ for the visitors because Storm beat them last season in a similarly tight clash with a score at the final buzzer in the National Cup quarter-finals. Storm went on to lift the trophy after demolishing Manchester Magic 94 – 77 in the Final.
Storm team and scorers: Bode Adeluola 36, Levi Noel 16, Leome Francis 16, Blayne Freckleton 11, Leon Henry 9, Will Ashby 6, Jamie Hayes 4, Tom Martin 2, Jack Burnell, Ian Berry, Sam Dunscombe and Oliver Ladlow
Storm’s next home game: Saturday 6th October against Worthing Thunder (Div 1), tip-off 7pm at Hemel Leisure Centre. For tickets go to the "tickets & shop" tab above
Top right: Leome Francis – thunderous slam dunk
Above: Bode Adeluola – a virtuoso performance
(Photos: Lin Titmuss)
STORM II SNATCH LAST SECOND VICTORY
Hemel Storm II 82 v 79 Chelmsford Lions (National Shield)
Hemel Storm’s second team snatched a last gasp win against a strong Chelmsford Lions in the first round of the National Shield on Sunday. It was an impressive outcome for the newly formed team who continue to build their roster.
Hemel got off to a blistering start, amassing an 11 point lead in the first 4 minutes underpinned by a couple of three pointers from Shaun Allin and Daryl Craine. But Chelmsford’s highly experienced and versatile player/coach, Chris Michaelides, led his team in an immediate response and the Lions reduced the deficit to just three at the end of the first quarter.
By half time the influential Michaelides, who was the game’s high scorer with 31, had dragged his team into a 2 point lead.
A collective defensive effort after the re-start gave Storm the rebounding edge in the second half and Dominic Charles’ aggressive defence made the Lions leader work incredibly hard on every possession.
The lead changed hands several times throughout the second half and with 15 seconds remaining it was, once again, Michaelides who calmly sank two free throws to tie the game at 79.
But with 4 seconds on the clock Hemel’s Shaun Allin got free behind the 3 point line and his last gasp effort found the bottom of the net. The 1.7 seconds that remained was not enough for the visitors to respond.
Coach Allin was delighted with the win: “It was sheer grit and determination that got us through that one, I was really pleased with the contribution made by every single one of our players – it’s the best possible start for our new team. The good news for us is that, despite the win, we can improve significantly.”
Team and scorers: Shaun Allin 23, Nick Allin 21, Craig Percival 11, Daryl Craine 10, Dominic Charles 8, Michael Coumas 6, Ben Pearce 4, Matt Renshaw 3.
Storm II’s next home game: Sunday 7th October against Richmond Knights (Div 4), tip-off 5pm at JFK School