Hemel Storm 91 – 89 Worthing Thunder
(National League Division One)
Hemel Storm’s six game winning streak looked like ending at Sportspace on Sunday as with less than two minutes left they trailed Worthing Thunder by six points in a National League Division One clash.
But in a frenzied atmosphere the packed crowd erupted as first Hemel’s Mike Darlow broke lose to sink a three pointer and then AJ Roberts hit nothing but net from long range to knot the scores at 89 points each with just over a minute remaining.
Worthing Coach Daniel Gayle called time-out to reorganise his team but Storm produced an outstanding defensive stand forcing the visitor’s American star Zaire Taylor to attempt a challenged three-pointer from well behind the arc. There was a scramble for the rebound and Roberts snared the ball as it bounced off a Worthing player’s hand.
With the clock ticking down Hemel’s Walid Mumuni found teammate Wayne Yeboah with a crisp pass and despite having two Worthing defenders pressuring him Yeboah drove inside the key and scored a lay-up with 18 seconds left giving Hemel a 91 – 89 edge.
But the drama wasn’t over. With Worthing’s next possession Jorge Ebanks drove the length of the court and was judged to have been fouled as he attempted a close range shot.
With the crowd on its feet Ebanks stepped up to the free-throw line with the chance to tie the scores but his first attempt hit the back of the basket and bounced away, his second fell short and was grabbed by Hemel’s Dave Ajumobi.
With three seconds left Worthing fouled Storm’s centre Lee Greenan to stop the clock but he, too, missed both free-throws which gave Taylor a chance at a heave from three-quarter court but the effort missed and Storm’s comeback was complete.
The high scoring game had see-sawed throughout as Vanarama-sponsored Storm showed early dominance behind five three-point baskets in the first period to lead 33 – 24. But a much improved Worthing performance in the second stanza triggered by the scoring of the visitor’s former BBL MVP Taylor, ended at 56 – 50 in Storm’s favour.
A 16 – 4 Thunder run in the third period gave the visitors the lead for the first time at 72 – 69 and when Taylor scored a three-pointer Worthing opened a 10 point margin at 79 – 69.
But Hemel chipped away at the lead behind baskets from Bode Adeluola, Yeboah and Storm’s eventual top-scorer Adjumobi (27 points) while Taylor’s contribution in the final period was cut back to seven points as Yeboah was assigned to cover the visiting star.
Storm’s seventh win in a row delighted Head Coach Robert Youngblood who was quick to point out the role that the Club’s fans had played in the victory: “The Storm fans were fantastic today and without them I don’t think the outcome would have been the same, he said.
“The last four minutes of the game showed the chemistry and staying together in close games that has been a feature of our win streak. We refused to lose”.
But the Coach was concerned about his team’s first half defensive performance: “We played really well offensively but giving up 50 points in the half when we’ve been holding teams to 67 points a game wasn’t good enough.
“I thought Wayne’s individual defence on Zaire Taylor in the second half was a key to this massive win and David (Ajumobi) was huge for us too.
“For me, the MVP today was our fans!”
Storm are now second in the table behind Loughborough Riders with the same win-loss record but inferior overall points difference.
Storm team and scorers v Worthing: Dave Adjumobi 27, AJ Roberts 14, Wayne Yeboah 14, Mike Darlow 13, Bode Adeluola 11, Jack Burnell 7, Lee Greenan 5, Walid Mumuni, Rhyce Donegal, Tom Adorian, Chuck Duru, Courtney Van-Beest (injured).
Storm’s next home game is on Saturday November 25th at Sportspace, tip-off 7pm., when the visitors are Bradford Dragons. Tickets available from the 'tickets & shop' drop-down menu above
Top: Storm’s #24 David Ajumobi hit some crucial baskets on his way to top-scoring with 27 points against Worthing
Above: Wayne Yeboah scored Storm’s winning basket and his individual defence was a key to Hemel’s win
(Photos: Lin Titmuss)