Saturday 14th October
Newcastle University 82-98 Hemel Storm
NBL Division One
Hemel Storm bounced back from their first defeat in over a year with a comprehensive victory on the long trip to Newcastle. They sealed a 16-point victory behind a determined defensive display, where they showed glimmers of promise as they look to work their way into the long season ahead.
Hakeem Sylla scored 6 of Storm’s first 9 points as an early 3 point lead was enough to spark Newcastle coach Elderkin to call his first timeout. Storm worked hard on defence to establish their initial control of the game, with Mark Clark’s substitutions working effectively as the Storm bench added a total of 35 points. Tez Allen hit 11 first-half points as he continues to settle into his new side and Storm hit 3 late threes to win the first quarter 24-11.
Logan Rooney hit back-to-back threes of his own to begin the second, making 13 in a 4-minute spell for the home side as they looked to respond and pull back the deficit but Storm and Seth Swalve responded with his own hat-trick from behind the arc to push the lead up to 12. Bernard Hehetro added good physicality in his valuable minutes from the bench and Matt Disu was impressive with his hustle and energy, propelling Storm into the locker room 10 points up, the happier side.
Sylla again came out hot with 6 early points as Storm’s offence began to fire with trebles from Allen and Newman increasing the lead. Storm began to look comfortable as the deficit stretched to 25, but some sloppy defence and 5 last-minute Newcastle points pulled it back to 18 at the third quarter break, the game not quite over yet. Storm were scoreless in the first 2 minutes of the last quarter, but back-to-back Sylla scores took the lead back out to 20. An Eze maximum stretched it out to 25 with only 6 minutes on the clock, surely confirming the victory for his side. Matt Disu scored from both inside and out to kill any Newcastle hopes of a miracle, but a rotated Storm side struggled to take command and find any rhythm as the hosts finished with 8 unanswered points to minimise the damage to 16 points, perhaps kind to the Northern side but Storm failed to finish ruthlessly and missed a chance to take a statement victory back to Hemel.
The side continue to work hard to gel and establish their key principles as a new look group of players, but come away feeling positive after a good performance put them on the board for the league campaign. Hakeem Sylla led the scoring for the visitors with 23 points to go alongside his 4 rebounds and American Swalve added 19. Newman had 15 and Tez Allen 14 in a well-rounded team display from the squad.
Storm are back at home next Saturday with a big clash against rivals Worthing Thunder. Tip-off will be at 7pm. This is always a great showdown so make sure you book your tickets now online at www.stormbasketball.net.
Written by Callum Humphrey
Photos by TGD Visuals