Leicester Warriors 88 – 92 Hemel Storm (after OT)
Hemel Storm 87 – 97 Team Solent Kestrels
(National Cup ¼ final)
A game ending injury to starter American guard Mike Williams robbed Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm of the chance to progress to the National Cup Semi Finals on Sunday. The opponents were league leading Solent Kestrels, who Storm had pushed so hard a week ago in the league fixture in Southampton. Without star man Elliot Sentance who top scored in the previous game, Storm could see an opportunity to progress in a competition they won two years ago.
The game followed what is becoming an established pattern for Storm this season: conceding heavily in the first half before showing great improvement after the break. American Travis Charles lead the Kestrels with a great scoring show as Storm gave up 55 points, trailing 55-46 at half time. Led by Lee Hodges, who didn’t score double figures in the league game but hit 26 points Storm held the Kestrels to just 13 points in the third stanza and went into the final break 69-73 adrift. However, Williams pulled up and with his withdrawal the balanced team offence and aggressive defence took a hit as Kestrels upped their defensive intensity to run out winners by 97-87. For Storm, Hodges hit 26, Poleon 18 and Adeluola 13. Charles led all scorers with 28 for Solent.
In the previous round of the cup Storm had traveled to Leicester Warriors and took a victory in overtime. The same happened on Saturday night as Storm visited Leicester for the league match up. Storm looked to have the game won but a poor last quarter, lost 17-11 forced the extra period. Storm were never troubled in the extra five minutes and ran out winners by 92-88.
Storm were led by Mike Williams with 23 points, Will Ashby 22 and Greg Poleon with 18. Leicester’s impressive American TJ Henderson hit a game high 31 points.
Coach Dru Spinks commented “Lots to reflect on from the weekend. Evidently there are still so many areas within our performance that we have to continue to work towards and develop as we continue to grow as a team.
We are looking forward to the chance to stretch and challenge ourselves as we continue to work towards bringing to life all the actions and standards that we have identified that will yield success “.
Storm play at Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre in their final game of 2019 this Saturday, 7pm tip off. The visitors to the StormDome are Reading Rockets who currently have the same record in the league as Storm (9-3). Tickets available at www.stormbasketball.net