Sunday 1st October
Hemel Storm 94 – 91 Milton Keynes Breakers
KitKing Trophy Quarter Final
It was the repeat fixture of last year’s National Cup Semi Final as Hemel Storm hosted the MK Breakers in the KitKing Trophy Quarter Finals in front of a sold out crowd. Storm were looking to protect their reign as champions whereas Breakers looked to cause an upset to last years Quadruple winners. It proved to be a thrilling game, with both teams competing until the final buzzer; Storm managed to come out on top, winning 94-91.
Looking to start fast, Storm were immediately on the board, with sharp-shooter Jack Burnell scoring twice from three point range. However, this proved to not be too much of a challenge to the confident Breakers side- a roster which contained former BBL players Spencer and Tawiah and former Storm player Freckleton. The confidence of the visitors was evident, as they dominated the opening exchanges, showing impressive ball movement, physicality on rebounds and most importantly accurate shooting. Storm needed to find a response instantly and stay within touching distance otherwise the Breakers would run out as comfortable winners. The visitors went into the end of Quarter one leading 28-36.
A response was needed as soon as possible for Storm, to limit the 8 point deficit. They did so fantastically in the second quarter although only scoring 18, they managed to limit the Breakers to only 7 points in the whole of the quarter. The movement of the ball improved massively resulting in open shots being made. The 8 point lead for the Breakers was successfully reduced and the scoreboard was now in Storm’s favour, taking a 46-43 lead going into half time. It was an impressive second quarter performance from Storm, but the game was very much far from over.
The majority of the third quarter saw Storm have momentum, executing their plays to perfection, and as a result, built their lead up to double figures, after a three pointer from Brayden Inger went in, much to the delight of the vociferous home crowd. However, it was ex Storm player Blayne Freckleton who looked to bring a halt to the premature celebrations, showcasing his excellent perimeter shooting to bring the game right back to a tied game by the end of the quarter. Momentum was changing hands throughout the third period, and the game was opened up to anybody’s for the taking.
The game had grown highly emotional for both sides, who had competed exceptionally well to be within touching distance of the semi final place. This was shown by multiple technical fouls which saw the final action of the game for both Spencer and Swalve, with Freckleton fouling out also. It was Storm however who took an early lead at the start of the fourth and looked to control the closing stages of the game. It was a one possession game for the majority of the final quarter with tension beginning to mount both on and off the court. However Storm kept calm and continued to score important points to extend their lead. 13 seconds were left with Storm winning 93-89 when Arissol secured an and-one play to potentially bring the game back to within a single point. He missed the resulting free throw but was once again presented with a chance to take the match into overtime with the final shot of the game. The ball bounced off the back of the rim and into Storm hands, meaning Storm wrapped up the 94-91 victory.
This game was a fantastic advert for British Basketball, with both teams battling it out until the final buzzer. From a Storm perspective, the performance from the statistics were more favourable from the second quarter onwards which showed with some fantastic teamwork and resilience. MK showed a great fight and definitely look promising for the future as they look for promotion to NBL Division One as the aim for this season. Overall, a pleasing performance against a good outfit and one which is a testament to the determination and strength of the Hemel Storm team.
Top Scorers: Brayden Inger: 20 pts, Hakeem Sylla: 17 pts, Jack Burnell, Tez Allen: 14 pts
Player of the Game: Hakeem Sylla: 17pts, 15rebs
Storm now have two away weekends but return to the StormDome on Saturday 21st October at 7pm when they welcome Worthing Thunder. This is always a great showdown so make sure you book your tickets now online at www.stormbasketball.net.
Written by Ollie Heathcote
Photos by TGD visuals