Saturday 2nd April: Derby Trailblazers 90-91 Hemel Storm after overtime
(NBL Division One Quarter Final Playoffs)
Saturday’s game saw Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm face the Derby Trailblazers on the road in the playoff quarter finals. With the home tie, Derby Trailblazers had the advantage but after 40 minutes, both teams could not be separated, leaving overtime for Storm to grab the victory 90-91.
The first quarter saw Storm begin the game quickly, shooting well from in and around the three point arc taking a narrow lead at the start of the quarter. Storm were matched by a Derby team who also shot well which tightened the game. After taking a 7 point lead and looking like the quarter would end that way, a buzzer beater from in form Blake Bowman sent the teams into quarter two with the scores at 19-24 in Storm’s favour.
At the start of the second quarter the match stayed as tight as it was in the first quarter before Storm raced off to a 26-40 lead, the highest points gap of the game at 14. Storm moved and shot the ball consistently well using all assets from the starters to the bench, each contributing to the points total. That 14 point difference between the two teams was decreased to 8 after a lapse of concentration resulting in Derby scoring easy baskets. The two teams left the court at halftime with the scores at 37-46 to Storm.
It was important that Storm started well in the third quarter to keep the lead they had worked so hard for. They needed to play smart on defence and offence and limit the amount of good shots Derby would have. Derby came out strong after half time quickly closing the 9 point lead. Storm needed to shoot with accuracy which they did not do well, and Derby capitalised on this bad run of scoring. Momentum swung in Derby’s favour as they took a 6 point lead: their highest of the game. But a three pointer from Johnathan Lashley on the buzzer took the teams into the final quarter with the scoreboard reading 62-59 in favour of Derby Trailblazers.
The last quarter was arguably the closest quarter of Storm’s season with both teams showing a different mentality. For Storm, it was to reduce the points gap to win the game. On the other hand, Derby wanted to stop Storm from regaining any momentum to allow them to extend the lead. With 5:27 remaining, Storm were within a point of Derby before Sam Newman turned the score in Storm’s favour. But when Derby regained the lead by 2 points and had 2 free throws to come with 6 seconds remaining, the game looked over. There was some hope with Malcolm Smith missing 1 of 2 free throws, leaving Storm with a timeout and 3 seconds to tie the game. In his tenth season at Storm, Bode Adeluola took the buzzer beating three point shot, which hit the back rim, bounced up, and went into the hoop. This meant that overtime was to decide who would be heading into the playoff semi finals with the scores tied at 74-74.
After a Bode three pointer to beat the buzzer, the momentum was with Storm. To start the overtime period, Bode scored another three pointer on the other side of the arc to his buzzer beater. Derby did respond but Storm matched their performance from the first half, with captain Tayo Oyefusi scoring two three-pointers throughout overtime. Storm took a six point lead but Derby responded swiftly and capitalised on a miscommunication leading to a Storm turnover. Storm had a four point lead with 10 seconds remaining, Storm forced a jump ball with 1.3 seconds remaining. There was time for another buzzer beater three pointer from Derby’s Jonas Dietrich but it was not enough to equal the game. Storm won the quarter final game with the final score after overtime being 90-91. Storm now advance into the semi final and will travel away to face Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday 9th April, 6.30pm tip off at Uxbridge College Sports Centre, Park Road, Uxbridge UB8 1NQ.
It was a well-spirited performance with some great hustle and desire to win the game. Storm did very well to react to Derby’s good run of scoring mainly in the third quarter and used the away support to their advantage. Both supporters showed brilliant support throughout the game, spurring both teams on until the final buzzer of overtime.
Storm have one more home game which is an exhibition game against Great Britain Over 35s. They will see the return of former Storm players Spud Kearney, Tom Adorian and Walid Mumuni as well as acknowledging Bode Adeluola’s 10 year service to the club on Saturday 16th April, 7pm tip. The end of season player awards will be announced at half time in that game as well. Tickets are available at the door, on the night or in advance at www.stormbasketball.net
Photos by Joanne Charles