Saturday 25th March, NBL Division One: Team Newcastle University 77-107 Hemel Storm
Saturday’s game saw Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm travel to Team Newcastle University, knowing that they would secure the league if they were to win. A spectacular performance from the whole team ensured a convincing victory with Storm dominating the game throughout.
The first quarter was an even start to the game with Storm using their ability to score around the basket. It was evident however that Newcastle looked to their efficient shooter Jordan May who scored well under contested pressure. They also looked to their bigs who were able to use their power to score inside the paint. Storm had controlled the first quarter, but it still remained close as the first quarter ended 25-30 in Storm’s favour.
Storm started the second quarter with a vital scoring run which was able to slow the energetic Newcastle team down. A highlight play saw star man Aaryn Rai slam the ball home under intense defence, increasing the confidence of the Storm team. The execution of the offence was outstanding as Storm went into the half time break, winning convincingly 46-61.
The third quarter was mostly about defending their lead from a Storm perspective and continuing to extend the points gap to an uncatchable margin. The 15-0 run from Storm gave them much more room to relax slightly and continue to defend their own basket as well as they had been doing for the first two quarters. It was defensively Storm’s best quarter as they limited Newcastle to only 13 points throughout the whole period, whilst scoring 24 of their own. Storm went into the final period winning 59-85.
The hard work that Storm had put in for the three quarters meant that Storm could lower the tempo slightly and play out the remainder of the game. Although continuing to shoot the ball well, Storm rotated the squad regularly meaning that the substitutions were always providing an extra boost of energy to push them over the line. Storm took the victory winning 77-107 which crowned them as League Champions.
Overall, this game summed up how the whole season has been for Storm. Each player contributed and gave a great account of themselves as a team. The skill and experience has definitely helped Storm shine and has been a main contributing factor as to why Storm have won three trophies.
Storm will complete their regular league season this weekend with two home games. Firstly they face Team Solent Kestrels on Saturday 1st April at Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre, 7pm tip where Storm fans will welcome home their champions. Sunday 2nd April sees Worthing Thunder come to Hemel with a 5pm tip. Both games are key to keep the momentum going into the play-offs. Tickets for both games are available at www.stormbasketball.net.
Top Scorers: Taylor Johnson: 26 points, Hakeem Sylla: 25 points, Aaryn Rai: 15 points
Report by Ollie Heathcote