Vanarama-sponsored Hemel Storm exited the National Trophy at the quarter-final stage on Saturday when they fell 78 – 88 away to Loughborough Riders in a high-paced, evenly matched contest.
The home team edged each of the four quarters and with both sides playing at a similar level the result came down to which team would make the fewer mistakes with the ball.
Hemel Coach Robert Youngblood was unhappy with the result and his team’s performance and especially with how his players seemed to approach the game: “We took them too lightly, they might be a young team but they were still able to force us into 17 turnovers. That’s unacceptable from an experienced squad like ours.
And the Coach left no doubt about what has to happen in future games: “We have to play smarter and harder,” he said. “We were not physical enough - that will definitely change!”
A decisive third quarter built the home team’s lead to 66 – 60 after they took each of the first two periods by just one point apiece (20 – 19 and 25 – 24) to lead 45 – 43 at half-time.
Storm’s David Ajumobi once again was impressive scoring from inside and outside the key and his top score of 22 points included four three-pointers. And teammate Courtney Van-Beest came off the bench to add some steel to Hemel’s defence and also score from mid-range to finish some well-worked attacks and tally 16 points.
In the backcourt Storm’s Bode Adeluola proved a handful even for the athletic Loughborough guards and he threw an imposing six assists to go with his 13 points.
Coach Youngblood adjusted his line-ups throughout the game to counter Loughborough’s feisty guard play and in the fourth quarter a Hemel run closed the gap to five points before two consecutive three-pointers – Loughborough took 30 attempts from long range scoring 12 of them - gave them the winning 10 point margin.
Storm team and scorers: David Ajumobi 22, Courtney Van-Beest 16, Bode Adeluola 13, Jack Burnell 9, Wayne Yeboah 9, Chuck Duru 6, Michael Darlow 3, Nick Allin, Lee Greenham, Rhyce Donegal, Walid Mumuni.
On Saturday British basketball reigning champions, Leicester Riders, will be at Sportspace for a challenge match against Storm that tips-off at 6.00pm an hour earlier than Storm’s usual starting time.
The game is the last of three challenge matches before the National League, Cup and Championship Play-Offs start in earnest. Tickets available under the 'tickets & shop' drop-down menu
David Ajumobi (#24) was impressive again top-scoring for the third consecutive game.
Bode Adeluola dished out six assists to go with his 13 points.
(Photos: Lin Titmuss)