Saturday 18th March, NBL Division One: Westminster Warriors 95-103 Hemel Storm
Saturday’s game saw Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm face Westminster Warriors in a top vs bottom encounter. However, the league positions went completely out of the window as the Warriors pushed Storm to the final buzzer. Despite leading for the majority of the game, Westminster were not able to hold onto their lead, with Storm showing the character to secure the victory.
Storm started the first quarter looking to gain a good lead with a lot of the points coming from fast breaks. Warriors were able to respond, shooting incredibly well against the strong Storm defence. The first quarter was also very physical with some players becoming frustrated at the lack of fouls called when shooting. Warriors thrived off this and were able to take a 26-25 lead going into the second quarter.
The second quarter was another frustrating quarter from a Storm perspective with the lack of execution of plays, allowing Warriors to extend their lead further. Once again, the Warriors continued to use their power inside the paint and shot the ball accurately to stop any momentum from Storm. This made sure Warriors were still in the lead as they led 45-52.
It was vital that Storm were to have a good start to the third quarter in order to gain momentum back and did so, playing with more intensity and passing the ball to the open shooters. They reduced the deficit to a one possession game before some brilliant three pointers from Westminster extended their lead. Storm were chasing the game and had to be patient and use their skill in order to limit the Warriors. It was a better display towards the end of the quarter as Storm went into the final quarter with the momentum, however still losing 75-78.
The momentum had shifted many times throughout the game but two three pointers from captain Tayo Oyefusi gave Storm the lead, much to the delight of the travelling support. The physicality continued to show as Warriors continued to apply pressure to regain the lead. But Storm used their expertise and resilience to keep going throughout the last few minutes to secure a crucial victory, winning 95-103.
It was a tense game throughout, but Storm continued to persevere even when they were frustrated. Although on paper Storm were heavy favourites, the Warriors showed why they are no team to be taken lightly as they kept battling through the whole game. This victory takes Storm to a 23-0 league record and are now one win away from securing their first ever NBL Division One League Title.
They have the chance to do so on Saturday 25th March away to Team Newcastle University, and return the following week to face Team Solent Kestrels at home on Saturday 1st April 7pm tip followed by hosting Worthing Thunder on Sunday 2nd April 5pm tip. Tickets for both home games are available to purchase online at www.stormbasketball.net.
Top Scorers: Taylor Johnson: 30 points, Hakeem Sylla: 25 points, Aaryn Rai: 20 points.
Report by Ollie Heathcote
Photo by Luke Simcock