Storm bounce back with victory over local rivals

03/03/2024

Saturday 2nd March
Hemel Storm 94-65 Thames Valley Cavaliers
NBL Division One

Hemel Storm continued their pursuit of the top two after an important 94-65 victory over Thames Valley Cavaliers. It was a fantastic reaction shown after last week’s disappointing display in a defeat to Bradford, with Storm looking to regain momentum with the end of the season looming.

Storm were very much dominant throughout the encounter, remaining relaxed and controlled proceedings throughout the game. The return of both Hakeem Sylla and Brayden Inger and a full roster provided good depth, with every player looking intent on making a statement when they entered the court. The importance of having a fully fit roster is highly important as the season nears the business end.

The first quarter saw Storm raring to go, with the players in high spirits. They were able to force turnovers through trapping the Cavaliers, who were slow at times with their decision making. However, the Cavs remained within arm’s reach of Storm, as they kept the points margin to within a one possession game for the first half of the quarter. Kavell Hawes began to shine, with a good cameo off the bench, bringing his energy and hustle on defence matched with his shooting ability. Storm very much controlled the inside of the paint on both ends of the court, using the aerial presence of Darien Nelson-Henry, who also started the game very well. Storm had extended the lead to 23-15 as the end of the quarter approached.

A quick 7-0 run in favour of the Storm forced the Cavs into an early timeout to start proceedings in the second quarter. Storm looked to have found their ruthless selves, who looked to be continuing an unbeaten streak, despite having it broken by Bradford last week. Having returned from international duty, former Cavalier Hakeem Sylla showed why he was desperately missed last game, with a dominant display inside both paints. The decision-making and execution of passing was much improved, with Storm not trying to force passes into areas which were going to be intercepted. Storm once again won the quarter by 8 points, meaning that both teams went into the half time break with Storm winning 47-31. Despite the game being in the ascendancy for the home side, they needed to make sure that they were not complacent as a massive second half approached.

The third quarter saw Storm once again capitalising off Thames Valley mistakes to further extend their lead. A reverse dunk from Sylla combined with a behind the back assist from Disu to Eze were two highlight plays, which started to extend the lead to an already uncatchable margin. Jack Burnell also had his moments, stringing two three pointers in quick succession, with the Cavs looking tired and looking towards their next fixture just a day after. The scoreline was very much in Storm’s favour as they led 74-47 entering the final period of play.

Despite the score being heavily in favour of the Storm, they did have to remain professional and continue to work hard to ensure a deserved and comfortable victory. There were many signs of positive play with good choices being made, which resulted in easy points. Storm were able to relax which did mean the standards dropped slightly towards the end as the Cavs were able to make easy baskets in quick succession, however, Storm secured a convincing 94-65 victory that they had hoped for.

It was a much more pleasing game to watch from a Storm perspective. In comparison to last weekend’s disappointing display against Bradford, the energy on court was much higher, which translated to the Storm faithful, who roared on their approval.

With Essex Rebels losing, Storm will look towards securing a top two position, however, face the number one seed in their way. The Derby Trailblazers are the next team in town in what proves to be a showstopper.

Make sure to secure your ticket at www.stormbasketball.net as this game will be very high in demand!

Top Scorers: Hakeem Sylla: 26 pts, Taylor Johnson: 14 pts, Jack Burnell: 13 pts

Written by Ollie Heathcote
Photo by Matt Cook

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