Hemel Storm 99 – 101 Essex Leopards (National League Division One)
Hemel Storm took a 74 – 61 lead into the fourth quarter of their National League Division One game against Essex Leopards at Hemel Sports Centre on Saturday only to face a 40 point shooting streak by the visitors in the last ten minutes and fall to a 101 – 99 defeat.
In front of a pack crowd Vanarama-sponsored Storm held Essex to just 13 points in the third period but a 12 – 0 run with five minutes to play in the final stanza handed the lead back to Leopards, 85 – 84.
The teams then traded baskets before Storm’s eventual top scorer TrayVonn Wright (31 points and 12 rebounds) hit three consecutive jump-shots and a free-throw to put his side back on top 91 – 90.
With less than two minutes to play Leopards’ Darrell Bethune and Asante Sandiford scored driving lay-ups without reply from the home side and the visitors were ahead again at 94 – 91.
On Hemel’s next possession Bode Adeluola was fouled driving to basket and the Hemel players huddled near the free-throw line to talk tactics before the shots were taken.
But Bethune tried to join the huddle. The officials called a technical foul on him and then an unsportsmanlike foul on Bode Adeluola for making contact with the Leopards’ player.
Hemel’s Blayne Freckleton scored the resulting free-throw for the technical foul and Adeluola sank both of his free-throws for the original foul on him.
As the noise in the arena reached a crescendo the players trooped to the other end of the court and Bethune then hit both of his free-throws for the unsportsmanlike foul to give the visitors a 96 – 94 edge.
Essex then had possession returned to them at the side-line but their attempted lay-up was blocked by Storm’s Leome Francis and it sent Wright sprinting to the other end of the court where he scored a lay-up and was fouled. His free-throw swished through the basket to give Hemel a 97 – 96 lead with 50 seconds left.
In a nail-biting climax Leopards’ Findlay Wood connected on a three-pointer, Wright replied with one of two free-throws for Hemel before Essex captain Sam Newman also scored two from the line to put his team 101 – 98 ahead.
With under four seconds remaining the ball was tipped out of court by an Essex player and as Storm tried to execute a play to spring their sharp-shooting guard Freckleton loose for a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, he was grabbed by Bethune before the ball could be passed into court and an unsportsmanlike foul was blown against the Essex player. Because of the technical foul called on him earlier in the game he was automatically disqualified.
Freckleton scored the free-throw and Storm then had possession with a little over two seconds remaining and needing only two points to tie or three to win. But in a well-worked last ditch attempt Francis’ close range shot bounced off the basket.
After a bright start with Hemel’s veteran forward Tom Adorian sinking eight of his team’s first ten points, Storm fell eight points behind, 25 – 33 at the end of the first period.
But the home team recovered from a 10 point deficit half way through the second stanza on the back of a 16 – 4 run triggered by a Will Ashby three-pointer and an impressive defensive effort to lead 49 – 48 at half-time.
Hemel Head Coach Robert Youngblood said: “Both teams had chances in that last period to win but all credit to Essex they made more of their shots than we did.
“We could have won it with free-throws, it was a big factor. We only missed one in the first three periods but five in the final quarter.
“Having held them to 15 points in the second quarter and 13 in the third they then shot their way back into the game – 40 points in a single period is impressive even though we were on the wrong end of it!
“We know we’re very close to turning things around; we now have a run-in of ten games left, seven against Clubs in the top eight League positions, two against sides with similar records to our own and one away to Manchester who only have one win.
“You can be sure we’ll be fighting on every possession in every game to close our season out successfully.”
Team and scorers: TrayVonn Wright 31, Tom Adorian 15, Bode Adeluola 13, Leome Francis 13, Blayne Freckleton 12, Will Ashby 8, Levi Noel 7, Jamie Hayes, Leon Henry, Jack Burnell, Shaquille Lewis.
Storm’s next home game is SUNDAY 24th February, tip-off 5.00pm, against Team Solent Kestrels at Hemel Leisure Centre. For tickets go to the "tickets & shop" tab above
Top: TrayVonn Wright had a double-double of 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Right: Tom Adorian, the veteran forward chalked-up 15 points.
(Photos: Lin Titmuss)
Hemel Storm II 66 - 68 Southwark Pride
(National League Division 4)
STORM II IN LAST SECOND THRILLER
Hemel Storm II got within two points of avenging a thirty point away loss earlier in the season to Southwark Pride when the sides met on Sunday in a National League Division 4 clash.
For three quarters of the game it looked like Hemel would pull off an amazing turnaround.
A strong first quarter for the home team led by some accurate long range shooting from Daryl Craine gave them a comfortable nine point lead at 24-15. Southwark responded in the second period as they exploited some gaps in Storm’s zone defence and closed the margin to six points at half time, 41-36.
Neither team could gain an advantage in a scrappy third quarter which ended tied at 17-17. However, a string of fouls put three of Hemel’s players on four fouls – one away from disqualification going into the last period.
A re-energized Southwark defence held Certa-sponsored Storm II to eight points but as the final seconds ticked down Hemel were just three points behind, 65 – 68, when Craine was fouled as he attempted a three-point shot and the clock stopped at 0.6 seconds left!
Craine had three free throws to try to tie the game. He missed the first but scored the second so his only option was to deliberately miss the third shot and hope for a tip-in from the rebound which would send the game into overtime at 68-all.
Craine bounced the ball perfectly off the back of the rim and Hemel forward Lewis Castro got his fingers to the ball but his tip attempt rolled agonisingly around the rim and fell out.
Hemel Coach David Allin said: “Our previous loss to Southwark wasn’t a true reflection of the capabilities of the team and I knew with a couple of adjustments the game could be much closer.
“It was frustrating not to hold on for the win but foul trouble hurt us and we didn’t cope well with their pressure defence in the last quarter.
“We’ve got three games left and they’re all away from home so it’ll be tough tests for us but we’re confident we can finish on a high.”
Team and Scorers: Daryl Craine 20, Nick Allin 17, Lewis Castro 14, Craig Percival 6, Ben Pearce 4, Luke O’Mahony 4, Dominic Charles 1, Shaun Allin.