Storm complete magical double winning weekend!

11/03/2024

Sunday 10th March
Reading Rockets 87 – 90 Hemel Storm
NBL Division One

Storm followed up the drama of the previous evening with a second astonishing victory on the weekend, away in Reading. Darien Nelson-Henry starred with 33 points in what was a thrilling, frenetic tie played at a staggering pace. It was a phenomenal effort from the Storm side, missing Hakeem Sylla courtesy of an injury sustained the previous night, managing to push on and find an extra gear despite a physically exhausting two games. 

Storm harnessed the energy of the winning moments against Derby to start strong, punishing an uncharacteristically sloppy Rockets. Storm were able to force multiple early turnovers and Nelson-Henry imposed his presence with eight first quarter points, dominating and bullying in the early proceedings. It was a fascinating inside battle between the ex-BBL man and Reading’s Christian Alexander, as the two heavyweight warriors locked horns and battled brutally for command of the bout. Nelson-Henry took the early stages of the first round, but control threatened to slip from Storm’s grasp as the Rockets settled into their own rapid tempo. The home side edged the first quarter; the scores standing at 28-27. 

Reading looked to push the pace and eventually rotated the Storm defence into a blitz, leaving open men ready to fire on the perimeter. Mark Clark’s troops may have begun to fatigue, but regardless pushed on relentlessly as the bench was utilised to great effect. The Rockets faltered and Storm again turned to big man Nelson-Henry who pushed his side ahead, leading 45-57 at the interval.

Reading chipped away at the lead, as the visitors became guilty of reverting away from the game plan. They temporarily seemed to lose trust in their own game, failing to run their plays to a conclusion and struggled to find offensive flow. A 20-7 Rockets run to close the quarter left the tie as a 3-point game, with another dramatic conclusion on the horizon. 

The home atmosphere stepped up a notch and willed their team on, grabbing the lead off Storm for the first time in the half. Just as it looked like tired legs may have halted Storm in their tracks, they responded alongside their fantastic away following. They worked the ball inside well and played tough defence, tying the game at 81-81. With just under four minutes to play and playoff aspirations lingering on the line, tension was high. Three minutes went by without a bucket scored, offensive output drying up based on some quality defence and the extreme pressure of the situation.  Eventually Nelson-Henry broke the drought and with just 15 seconds on the clock the Rockets chose to foul and regain possession. Cold as ice, Newman made both from the strike but Jermiah Jenkins and the Rockets put a dagger in Storm hearts with a huge three-pointer, cutting the deficit to one. Another foul and it was Tez Allen’s turn to hold his nerve, extending the lead back to three. Jenkins couldn’t repeat his previous feat from behind the arc but an Alexander lay in off of an offensive rebound closed the gap back to one with a couple of seconds to go. Allen was again the man fouled and again held his nerve admirably, forcing a Jenkins half-court hail-mary which didn’t go and Storm’s shoulders finally dropped, an epic weekend coming to a close. 

Two gigantic wins propel Storm into the race for the top two and after Saturday night’s effort against the league leaders, leaving them low on energy and without Hakeem Sylla, a victory away at a strong Reading side goes down as one of the most impressive in recent history. 

Nelson-Henry had 33, Brayden Inger 21 and Sam Newman continued to general the court expertly with another 10 assists. Storm march on to next week’s assignment as they travel to Birmingham. 

Written by Callum Humphrey
Photo by TGD Visuals

 

 

 

 

 

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