Quarter-final battle for Storm!

11/04/2024

24 regular season games. Seven months of league action. Ups, downs, wins, losses. And it all comes down to this…

Storm begin their playoff campaign with a quarter-final clash against the Loughborough Riders at the StormDome this Saturday. Win and they bag themselves a shot at securing a fourth consecutive Manchester final. Lose and their season will come to a premature end. It’s time for the post-season!

The season’s head-to-head battle stands at one-a-piece between the sides, with the Riders providing a rather anticlimactic beginning to Storm’s title reign by downing them right back in the season’s very first weekend. Storm took revenge at the StormDome in January with a much more convincing performance and will feel confident of toppling any travelling party in front of their partisan home crowd. 

Loughborough boast the league’s fifth top scorer in American Elijah Bailey and come into the season’s climax in a rich vein of form, winning four of their last five. The scout report on Bailey won’t have changed, the lefty always pinpointed as a key man, but his easily identifiable shift of pace and inside and outside capability remain a tough task to stop. Justin Hedley has featured in every single game of the campaign for Loughborough, clearly an important man within their ranks, and his value all over the court is pivotal to the Riders set up. Meanwhile, Leicester Riders’ and BBL star Blake Bowman has suited up once for the Division 1 side this year and in a must-win match it wouldn’t be surprising if his quality was wheeled out once more, in a final cunning deal of the franchises’ plethora of cards. 

Injuries are never welcomed, but for Storm the bug has come to bite at an especially inconvenient time. With Hakeem Sylla already out for the remainder of the season, fellow inside presence Brayden Inger hobbled off in Saturday’s victory over Elite with an ankle complaint. Inger will sit out Saturday and his participation in the remainder of the playoff campaign is a doubt, in an almighty blow to a Storm side already depleted on numbers. Storm’s forced lack of size will prove an unwanted headache to coach Mark Clark and he will have to compose an astute solution to deal with 6 '8 Victor Ndoukou and veteran Harrison Gamble, in his final year, especially. 

However, the return of Taylor Johnson from suspension will be welcomed with open arms by a Storm side desperate to battle past adversity and give a fair representation of themselves in what remains of the season. 

The two sides are no strangers to defining match-ups, with many memorable meetings between these two old enemies in the past. Now, they both know their seasons are dependent on 40 minutes of basketball and the StormDome will be treated to a thrilling display of brilliant basketball. 

Storm need you so for your chance to grab your seats for possibly the final time this year in what will be a sold out home crowd, visit Storm’s website or follow the link here

Written by Callum Humphrey

Copyright Hemel Storm Basketball