Storm finish 2023 with vital victory over the Hoods

18/12/2023

Saturday 16th December
Nottingham Hoods 100 – 106 Hemel Storm
NBL Division One

Hemel Storm wrapped up a closely-fought 100-106 victory over playoff rivals Nottingham Hoods at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena on Saturday.

Having remained in control for the majority of the encounter, the organised defence matched with the exceptional shooting display, especially in the second quarter, provided an early Christmas present for the Storm side, who now hold a 7-3 record going into the Christmas break.

It was the away side who started the quicker of the two teams, attacking the game with high intensity on both ends of the floor. After another turnover for the Hoods resulting in a Sylla layup, former player now coach David Watts was forced into an early timeout with Storm winning 2-11. Despite Storm showing no sign of stopping their fantastic display of shooting, Nottingham looked to rely on the talented duo Johde Campbell and Landon Taliaferro to reduce the extending lead. With Sylla performing well and keeping opposite number Skoric from dominating in the paint, the lead was reduced to 6 by the end of the quarter, as Storm took a 19-25 lead going into the first quarter break.

If the first quarter showed that Storm had performed particularly well, the second quarter topped that offensively with 36 points scored from Storm. The accuracy from the perimeter from Inger and Swalve combined with the inside presence of Sylla made this matchup a spectacle. However, Nottingham were to also up their offensive display, scoring 27 of their own, which brought the lead to 15 at the half. Storm looked to have shown a different attitude towards the game compared to games played in the past, with a hungry approach and the willingness to work for each other, which needed to be continued in the second half to ensure an emphatic victory.

The third quarter was a more nervy affair from Storm, who were more focused on maintaining the lead which they had worked hard for, whilst continuing to score on each possession they had. Whilst the away side were continuing to perform to a high standard, the noise levels in the arena started to rise whenever the Hoods responded, urging the home side into forcing a turnover. Despite this, the third quarter remained the same as it did going into half time, with Storm in a 15 point lead, winning 71-86.

Momentum had definitely swung in favour of the hosts, who used their home atmosphere to their advantage, reducing the deficit to single figures, forcing Coach Mark Clark into a timeout midway through the final quarter to prevent any further scoring run from occurring.  However, the Hoods thrived upon the pressure of executing their plays and made the game into a one possession affair with a layup from Skoric. However, any hope of a comeback was immediately diminished after Storm crafted themselves a 5 point run to bring themselves to a manageable 7 point lead. After a banked three pointer from Campbell, Storm needed to stay calm, as Hakeem Sylla responded immediately. The game ended with a pair of free throws from Storm which confirmed the victory for Storm winning 100-106.

It was a crucial victory for Storm against a very good team in the Nottingham Hoods, who kept on going until the final buzzer. Storm played brilliantly well as a team, with everybody looking like they have settled within the roster after the offseason changes. To go into the break with a 7-3 record is a good record to have, with improvements occurring week on week. Overall, a great way to end what was a historic year for Hemel Storm.

Top Scorers: Hakeem Sylla: 32 pts, Seth Swalve: 26 pts, Brayden Inger: 19 pts

Storm’s first home game of 2024 is on Saturday 6th January when current league leaders Essex Rebels visit the StormDome. Tip-off is 7pm. The team need their sixth man at this game so make sure you get your tickets via the Storm website; www.stormbasketball.net

Written by Ollie Heathcote
Photos by TGD Visuals

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