Saturday 17th December, NBL Division One: Hemel Storm 116-84 Team Newcastle University
Sunday 18th December, National Cup Quarter Final: Hemel Storm 91-81 London Sharks
Last weekend saw Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm face Team Newcastle University at home in the league and London Sharks at home in the cup, in a bid to enter the Christmas break undefeated in all competitions. Storm secured both victories winning 116-84 against Newcastle and 91-81 against London Sharks, displaying some high intensity basketball leading to game-deciding scoring runs in Storm’s favour.
Saturday’s game was against Team Newcastle University in the league where Storm asserted their dominance throughout the game. With quick passing and ball movement, Storm were able to penetrate the Newcastle defence and secure vital points, especially on the fast break. Highlight play saw captain Tayo Oyefusi show some excellent skills with a euro step to lose the oncoming defender and slam the ball home to secure the victory.
Once again, Storm showed their team mentality with players like Aaryn Rai, Taylor Johnson and Hakeem Sylla scoring a high number of points between them, Sam Newman providing the assists and Romario Spence contributing 14 points off the bench. It was a highly successful game, showing the chemistry between the Storm players and therefore earning a well-deserved 116-84 victory.
Sunday’s game saw Storm face Division 3 side London Sharks in the National Cup. The sharks were no team to underestimate as they kept battling until the final buzzer and caused Storm to make errors of their own. Jermaine Mellis had an outstanding performance scoring 38 points; many of which were some extraordinary plays. Fortunately for Storm their expertise and experience paid off as they managed to secure the win.
Storm thrived off points from inside the three point line and from free throws due to the Sharks getting into foul trouble early into the game, using the aerial presence of Sylla and Rai who were able to combine to a total of 42 points between them. It was a satisfactory performance, which did show signs of the players fatiguing after a long weekend of basketball, but Storm came away with the victory winning 91-81. The sharks being the first team to keep Storm under 100 points in a game since Bradford Dragons on 1st October.
Overall, it was a good performance over the whole of the weekend, pushing the unbeaten record into the Christmas break. There were some good moments in these games and Storm definitely showed their strength over the start of the season to be at the top of the league. Storm next face Solent Kestrels on Saturday 7th January away with a chance to extend their unbeaten record and start the new year off with a victory. The semi final of the cup will be on 8th January, opposition and venue will be announced once the draw has been made.
Top Scorers vs Newcastle: Aaryn Rai: 29 points, Taylor Johnson: 22 points, Hakeem Sylla: 18 points
Top Scorers vs London: Aaryn Rai: 24 points, Taylor Johnson: 23 points, Hakeem Sylla: 18 points
Report by Ollie Heathcote
Photos by Joanne Charles