Saturday 6th November: Reading Rockets 93-81– Hemel Storm
Sunday 7th November: Hemel Storm 103–85 Leicester Warriors
Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm came into Sunday’s NBL game against Leicester Warriors on the back of two straight losses and needed not just a win but a performance that backed up their rating as one of the preseason favourites for the league. The opponents had not started the season well but were boosted by the arrival of two American imports. Storm’s weekend had not started well with a loss at Reading Rockets the previous night.
A 7-3 start saw Leicester coach Brown call a timeout after just 2 and a half minutes as Storm made open shots. Warriors then made a three point play to pull back to 7-6, but Storm hit 9 straight points to pull away 15-6. Storm continued to score freely and ended the first period with a 30-18 lead.
The second quarter proved to be a very scrappy affair with errors from both teams. Half way through the period, Warriors reduced the lead to ten, but they could get no closer and Greg Poleon, so often a force inside, drained two long three pointers as Storm led at the half 52-38.
Third quarter syndrome sent Storm to sleep. After 5 minutes they had added only 5 points and Leicester had brought the game back to a 5 point game at 59-54. A foul by Newman on the shooter gave Warriors 3 free throws and became a 2 point contest and the game was tied with a lay up on 3.51. Turner penetrated, scored and was fouled as Leicester took the lead for the first time. This finally woke Storm from their slumber as led by Poleon, who scored inside and out, they finally moved the scoreboard to lead 76-68 after the third, but lost the quarter by 6.
The teams traded baskets in the fourth until a bank shot by Johnson pulled Storm to 85-76 and forced a timeout from Leicester coach Brown. Storm were now scoring fast break points and holding the team’s visitor’s offence as they pulled back to the half time lead of 14. As Leicester tired, they failed to get back on defence and Storm converted to stretch the lead and run out victors 103-85.
So, Storm got the win but not the performance. They will be disappointed to concede 85 points to a Leicester team that is struggling to get their season going. They will have work to do before next week’s game with perennial challengers Worthing Thunder at the Hemel Leisure Centre, tip off 7pm.
Leading performers on Sunday were Johnson with 31 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists; Poleon 27 points and 14 rebounds; Newman 12 points and 8 assists and Lashley 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Saturday’s game was a different story as Storm were outclassed in every area of the court with Reading Rockets running out 93-81 winners.
The performance was one to forget as Storm lacked that cutting edge and struggled to find the net throughout the first three quarters against the tough, well-organised Rockets defence. Top scorer for Storm was Taylor Johnson who achieved 32 points, even though Reading tried to guard him out of the game.
The first quarter was evenly matched as the teams showed their qualities on both ends of the court. Reading liked to use their big players, especially Canadian Meshack Lufile who saw a lot of joy inside the paint. Storm shot the ball quite well achieving 21 points and narrowly losing the quarter 23-21.
Storm were not at the races in the second quarter, giving up a lot of points from around the three point line with players like Reis Pinnock and Jaz Bains scoring freely. Storm lost the ball committing multiple turnovers and Reading capitalised with fastbreak opportunities. As well as having good offence, Reading did not give up many points and defended in and around the three point line incredibly well, with Storm only being able to register 15 points, compared to an impressive 28 points from Reading. This meant that the scores were 51-36 at half time.
Things were to get even worse for Storm as they did not drive to the basket for easy points and took difficult three point shots. Reading had sensed the frustration and took the game to Storm with Tyler Cartaino having an impressive third quarter finishing the game scoring 16 points. As much as Storm tried, they were no match for Reading who won the third quarter 21-15 and went into the quarter break with the scores at 72-51. Reading came out comfortable winners at 93-81. A score which Storm would be disappointed by, knowing that they could have got something out of the game if they did the fundamentals a lot better.
Storm have a huge double header home weekend ahead. They welcome Worthing Thunder on Saturday night, 7pm tip off and on Sunday they compete against Northants Titans in the 4th round of the National Cup. Tickets for both home games are available online at www.stormbasketball.net or can be purchased at the door on the night.