Loughborough Riders 106 - 91 Hemel Storm
Hemel Storm 84 – 100 Thames Valley Cavaliers
Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm lost their grip on second place in the league with back to back defeats over the weekend.
On Saturday they travelled to Loughborough Riders who themselves have ambitions of a top 4 finish. Storm could not contain their rapier like three point shooting despite several changes in defensive tactics. Riders were successful with 11 attempts from long range and as Storm pushed out to close the shots down space opened up inside and created easy chances. It was a strangely lethargic Storm performance and they failed to find their rhythm. Storm failed to win a quarter and were well beaten 105-91. Bode Adeluola led Storm with 24 points and 10 assists, Mike Williams and Greg Poleon added 23 each, the latter adding 12 rebounds.
This meant that the game against Thames Valley Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon was played with the two teams tied on 4 losses each, winner would take second spot. In front of a record crowd, Storm got off to a very slow start and were held scoreless for the first three minutes. The three guards Cavaliers offence of Taylor, McLemore and ex Storm player Blayne Freckleton were scoring easily and Storm were faced with chasing a deficit, down by ten at the half.
The game was becoming a shoot out between two talented American guards, with Mike Williams hitting 34 points in 34 minutes for Storm as well as grabbing 10 rebounds and throwing down a thunderous dunk, whilst Kyle Taylor played the whole game for Cavaliers and hit 36 points.
However, the game was won and lost with the battle of the big men, with the excellent Hakeem Sylla pulling down an enormous 24 boards and hitting 20 points for Cavaliers who took 23 offensive rebounds that resulted in easy scores through put backs from missed shots. The Storm big men could not control their boards. Whilst Storm pulled back to 5 the result was never really in doubt and Thames Valley saw the game out 102-84.
Mike Williams led Storm with 34, Greg Poleon hit 19 and Sam Newman 16.
Storm travel to Worthing Thunder for what is now a key game next Saturday.
They return to Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre on Saturday 29th February, 7pm tip off when Bradford Dragons are the opponents. Tickets available at www.stormbasketball.net