Saturday 11th March, KitKing Trophy Final: Hemel Storm 99-92 Worthing Thunder
Saturday’s game was the highly-anticipated KitKing Trophy final between Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm and Worthing Thunder. After an incredibly close game throughout, Storm were able to defeat Thunder 99-92, to win the KitKing Trophy.
The first quarter started with Storm immediately looking to build a sustainable lead, scoring 6 three pointers. However, Worthing stayed in the game as their full court press forced errors and they continued to respond with their shooting package. Worthing were looking mainly to stop the threat of Storm players Johnson and Rai, which left open players like Sam Newman and Seth Swalve who shot the ball with incredible accuracy. The valiant team effort from Storm was rewarded with a 28-22 lead going into the second quarter.
Storm looked to increase their lead further as they began the quarter as they finished the first, continuing to score. The lead had stretched to double figures which Thunder were keen to reduce as quickly as possible. They did so, using the quality of their squad and high intensity to score and force turnovers. The lead swung in Worthing’s favour after a three pointer by Arissol but a combination of Hakeem Sylla and Taylor Johnson put Storm in the lead going into half time. The score was 49-47; a game which was far from over.
The opening stages of the third quarter remained close, with both teams looking to build momentum. It was Storm however who took advantage of Thunder’s missed shots, building a lead to 9 points. Their strong defence and excellent offence was proving to be decisive in such a big game. The movement of the ball to break through the full court press gave the opportunity for many points to be scored; and the decision-making of the passes were able to create an uncontested shot. This proved to be massive for Storm as they went into the final quarter, winning 73-64.
Storm’s main priority in the fourth quarter was to stay disciplined, limit the Thunder to tough shots and to extend the lead further. Both teams cancelled each other out in terms of scoring to start the last period. But Thunder were gaining momentum through Moya as his 6 points in quick succession reduced the lead to 5 with 7:05 left to play. A Seth Swalve three pointer extended the lead to 7 immediately responded to by Ward. A pivotal moment in the game saw Thunder player Blain foul out of the game, giving Storm an advantage in the closing stages of the game. This left Storm to play out the remainder of the game and secure the 99-92 victory.
It was another close battle between the top two teams in the division, both sets of supporters created a great atmosphere at Surrey Sports Park. It was Storm’s patience, discipline and selflessness that helped them to get over the line. Although there were amazing individual performances, Taylor Johnson was deservedly named MVP, the whole team contributed to the victory. Storm are now 33-0 for the season in all competitions.
Storm continue their league campaign on Saturday 18th March when they travel to Westminster Warriors. If Worthing were to lose in their game earlier that day Storm could potentially become League champions if they were to win at Westminster.
Storm’s next home game is on Saturday 1st April, facing Team Solent Kestrels at Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre, 7pm tip. Followed by another home game on the Sunday 2nd April, against Worthing Thunder, 5pm tip.
Top Scorers: Taylor Johnson: 38 points, Aaryn Rai: 24 points, Hakeem Sylla: 15 points
Report by Ollie Heathcote
Photo by Luke Simcock
Shout out to Storm's amazing travelling supporters.