StormDome returns for 2024 as Riders head to town!

18/01/2024

GAME PREVIEW
Saturday 20th January - 7pm tip off
Hemel Storm vs Loughborough Riders, NBL Division One

Hemel Storm return home for the first time this calendar year, as they host the Loughborough Riders in a grudge, playoff place battle this Saturday. Riders come into the tie in 5th place, just two spots behind Storm with the sides both having won 8 times this year, but Storm crucially losing only 3 compared to the Riders 4 as they hold a game in hand on their opponents. With leaders Essex Rebels and Derby Trailblazers now within touching distance of both Storm, and visitors Loughborough, this game is huge in setting up the sides aspirations for the remainder of the league season.   

Storm come into the contest in good shape, having won 3 on the bounce, with the team’s identity clicking under Coach Clark. After a difficult start to their league defence, recent weeks have seen the team’s hard work off the court finally pay dividends on the court, with their intense defence style becoming more reliable and they now seem more comfortable at the offensive end, with a growing trust in each other and what they are looking to do. Last week, at London Elite, it was a clinical return to action for the side as they eased past their inferior opposition with a ruthless 54-point victory on the road. It was an electrifying offensive performance, with shots falling at ease from all over the court and they also dominated the inside battle, nullifying what could have been a tough challenge against an Elite side keen for a battle and with a history of running top sides close this season. It was an important performance in solidifying the good work put in before the Christmas break, and also to shake any cobwebs off as they now prepare for the crucial half of the year, where they know they must be at their best throughout to elevate their ambitions and push for silverware at the end of the campaign. 

They will be keen to use their momentum as they go into this weekend facing Loughborough Riders, with the added grievance of the memories of when the sides last met; the Riders toppling Storm’s unbeaten run and killing their coronation as they began their defence of the league title earlier this year. Back then it was a 5 point victory for the Riders, inspired by key man Elijah Bailey’s 30-point game and Storm know he will be the main threat again as they match up this weekend. The left-handed American possesses a shifty turn of pace on the drive, and a strong finish at the hoop, while remaining a capable shooter from both the mid-range and outside of the arc. He has often dominated their scoring, averaging 21 points per game so far this campaign, so Storm will hope if they can keep a close eye on him, they will be able to stifle their opponents offence and capitalise at the other end of the floor. Fresh from an impressive 5 point victory on their travels to Bradford, however, the rest of the Loughborough roster may have something to say about that. Justin Hedley has been another standout performer for the Riders this campaign, adding an all-round element to his game with eye-catching averages of 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists per game and the Riders also pose a strong inside challenge with veteran Harrison Gamble and big men Ndoukou and Hayden proving a handful for many teams so far this year. 

A fascinating tie awaits, with Storm looking to harness their good form to claim a win that could be vital in their hunt for the top of the table, as the business end of the season moves ever nearer. This will set the side up for a series of important clashes in the weeks to come, as they know they must begin to compete with those in and around the top of the table in order to make up ground and achieve their season goals. Loughborough have their own ambitions at the table’s peak, however, and with a knack of pooping Storm’s recent parties, won’t be keen to bow over and let their opponents ease past them. A bumper clash awaits, and Storm will need all your support. With partner side University of Hertfordshire Storm also in action at 4pm, it’s the perfect opportunity to get yourself down and support the boys for the first time in 2024.

Tickets are available at www.stormbasketball.net; University of Hertfordshire Storm tip at 4pm, while the men’s side tip at 7pm! 

Written by Callum Humphrey

Copyright Hemel Storm Basketball