Saturday 10th September
Hemel Storm 107 Team USA Select 93
Saturday’s matchup saw Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm face USA Select in their annual friendly match.
After careful consideration of government advice, Storm decided to proceed with this game to show their respects and collectively remember the life of Queen Elizabeth II. The Storm community came together along with both teams to observe a minute’s silence before the game.
Storm took the victory with some impressive, high-intensity basketball, winning 107-93 and showing that they will be competing for every trophy up for grabs this season.
Storm were in a rush to start scoring with an impressive display on offensive, seeing points scored from both inside and outside the arc. Defence was also a key aspect to Storm’s success in the first quarter with constant pressure being supplied to the USA Select players. Some amazing zonal movement and great communication led to many steals and points being scored. Storm ran rampant in the first five minutes leading 22-6, showing no signs of stopping anytime throughout the match. This led to many players seeing game time and showcasing their skills in front of a full Storm following. The quarter ended 34-15 in Storm’s favour; an incredible start but there was still three quarters left to play.
It was a slow start for Storm’s standard in the second quarter, with USA Select being able to exploit areas of the tired Storm defence, who had worked very hard for their first quarter lead. They showed their ability to shoot with high accuracy and defended the basket reasonably well, much to the frustration of both players and supporters of Hemel Storm. Storm did respond with good inside work especially from new signings Aaryn Rai and Hakeem Sylla and kept up their good defence at the end of the quarter preventing a buzzer beater attempt from Charles Acquah-Davis and Seth Swalve, who showcased his skills for USA Select when Storm played them last year. The teams went into the locker room with Storm leading less convincingly 59-48.
The second half was incredibly tight with both teams believing that they could take the victory. Eventually USA’s hard work paid off, tying the game at 69-69 forcing Dru Spinks into a timeout to calm the players down and to keep them focused. Storm managed to keep going and continue to score and as the quarter neared its end, Storm started to show impressive signs of their hustle on defence, score from different positions around the basket and gain important rebounds, preventing USA from taking the lead for the first time. It was all to play for going into the last quarter, with Storm leading 79-76.
Both teams went into the last quarter with the aim to outscore each other. Storm needed to be intelligent whilst in possession of the ball and show the determination and desire to contest every shot USA Select attempted. After five minutes had passed, Storm were winning 89-84, but the game still could be decided from one bad possession of the ball. Fortunately for Storm, their experience and grit shone through and led to them scoring many points from both inside and outside the arc, along with a defensively solid performance which limited the number of points conceded. The final buzzer sounded with Hemel Storm victorious, winning 107-93 and starting the season off with an amazing display of basketball.
There were many star players and plays throughout that game but overall, Storm’s resilience and skill separated the two teams. There are still some things to be worked on, but it was a positive display to start the season with a win and gaining confidence going into next weekend’s trophy fixture. This takes place on Sunday 18th September, 6pm tip off at Everyone Active in Hemel. Storm’s opponents will be Nottingham Hoods.
Taylor Johnson - 25pts, 8 assists
Hakeem Sylla - 24pts, 8 rebounds
Aaryn Rai - 19pts, 11 rebounds
Report by Ollie Heathcote
Photos by Joanne Charles