Rockets blown off course by Storm!


Hemel Storm 62 – 104 Loughborough Riders
Hemel Storm 121 – 116 Reading Rockets
(National League Division One)

After a lack lustre shooting performance against Loughborough Riders on Saturday Hemel Storm bounced back in stunning style next day to down Reading Rockets 121-116 in an upset victory that keeps their Play-Off hopes alive.

Storm’s Jekyll and Hyde weekend was played out at Hemel Leisure Centre in front of packed crowds who saw them connect on only 29 percent of their shots – their worst success rate of the season – in the 62-104 National League Division One loss to Riders.

But next day they sank a season’s-best 54 percent of their shots in an impressive win over Reading.

Hemel’s recent American signing TrayVonn Wright was unstoppable against the Rockets scoring 38 points – 24 in the first half – to lead all scorers and help to keep Vanarama-sponsored Storm in the hunt for a coveted place in the top-eight National Championship Play-Offs.

With three regular season games still to play Storm have slipped to tenth in the table because although they have an identical record to ninth-placed Bradford Dragons (10 and 13) the West Yorkshire side holds the head-to-head advantage.

On Saturday Storm trailed 22-17 after the first period but by half time the visitors were beginning to take advantage of Hemel’s misfiring offence and in an up-tempo game were able to push the score out to 48-35 by half-time.

Despite Storm creating some excellent scoring opportunities Riders used a 10-0 run in the last two minutes of the third quarter to secure a commanding 80-50 lead and went on to take the final stanza 24-12.

On Sunday in a high octane clash there were worrying signs in the opening quarter against Reading as the Berkshire side opened strongly to take a 27-12 lead after eight minutes behind three triples from their American guard A J Carr.

But Storm Head Coach Robert Youngblood changed Hemel’s defence which forced Reading into ball-handling mistakes and triggered a 10-2 reply from them to close the quarter with the deficit cut to 29-22.

Storm’s comeback was complete by half time as their opponent’s offence stuttered in the second period while Hemel sank 34 points including two triples from Will Ashby to lead 56-53 at the half-time break.

Storm was firing on all cylinders after the interval and they steadily built an 83-74 advantage but a 6-2 mini-run in the last minute got Reading back to 80-85 with one quarter to play.

Storm jumped out to a 10 point lead (92-82) early in the final period as Wright and Bode Adeluola combined to finish some slick offensive moves. And when Hemel’s Jack Burnell drained the second of his three-pointers the lead ballooned to 16 points at 107-91 and Storm sensed victory.

But the visitors’ rallied and with 17 seconds left Hemel’s outstanding defender Levi Noel was judged to have fouled Carr as he attempted a three-point shot, the American calmly sank all three of the resulting free-throws to close the gap to 117-114.

With Rockets forced to foul to stop the clock and regain possession Storm’s Blayne Freckleton and Adeluola clinically sank their free-throws in the final seconds to seal a memorable victory.

Team and scorers v Loughborough: Levi Noel 15, TrayVonn Wright 13, Jack Burnell 8, Blayne Freckleton 7, Bode Adeluola 5, Will Ashby 5, Jamie Hayes 5, Celeb Tabanar 2, Shaquille Lewis 2, Tom Adorian.

Team and scorers v Reading: TrayVonn Wright 38, Bode Adeluola 23, Blayne Freckleton 21, Levi Noel 20, Will Ashby 12, Jack Burnell 7, Jamie Hayes, Celeb Tabanar, Shaquille Lewis, Tom Adorian.

Storm have a crucial away double-header at the weekend against basement side Manchester Magic on Saturday, and then the return fixture against Loughborough Riders on Sunday.

Photo caption: Storm’s TrayVonn Wright – led all scorers with 38 points in victory over Reading.
(Photo: Lin Titmuss)



Lewisham Thunder 90 – 51 Hemel Storm II
(National League Division 4)

Hemel Storm II crashed to a heavy defeat away to Lewisham Thunder in their final league game of the season.

With Lewisham flying high in second place in the league and Hemel’s season-long inconsistent away form, the signs weren’t good for the visitors.  And it proved to be the case as Lewisham dominated the game from start to finish.

Hemel Coach David Allin commented: “This was always going to be a tough game for us but it was disappointing to finish the season with such a poor performance.

“We made far too many individual mistakes and didn’t rebound well.  But looking back at our first season, I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved on and off the court – there are many positives that we can build on going forwards.”

Storm II Team and Scorers: Nick Allin 13, Daryl Craine 11, Lewis Castro 10, Craig Percival 4, Mike Coumas 4, Shaun Allin 3, Raj Patel 2, Dominic Charles 2, Luke O’Mahony 2, Ben Pearce.

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