Hemel Storm 110 – 85 Manchester Magic (National League Division One)
A stunning second quarter blitz set up a dominant 110 – 85 victory for Hemel Storm against the visiting Manchester Magic at Hemel Leisure Centre on Saturday in a National League Division One clash.
After holding a one point edge at the end of the first period, Storm went on a 30 – 13 wrecking spree in the second stanza turning up the heat defensively and launching a series of crowd-pleasing fast breaks.
Six Hemel players eventually scored in double figures and the team threw a Club record 26 assists.
The win was a crucial one for Storm although they remain in the relegation zone in thirteenth spot. Eight losses – four in single digits - sees Hemel in unfamiliar territory towards the foot of the table on a won two, lost eight record.
But with only a little over a third of the season played Vanarama-sponsored Storm will use Saturday’s emphatic win to spark a revival and launch their bid for a place in the National Championship Play-Offs.
“It was a must-win game for us,” said a delighted Hemel Head Coach Robert Youngblood. “And now we’re determined to come back after the Christmas break and begin to climb up the table and get into the Play-Offs.
“I thought the guys were really focused on Saturday and it turned into an excellent team performance.”
Long-serving Storm point guard Bode Adeluola led with 18 points including three triples and 9 assists, followed by 16 from big man Leome Francis in 20 minutes of play, and 14 points from sharp-shooting guard Jack Burnell including three from behind the arc. Blayne Freckleton (13 points and six assists), Levi Noel (11 points) and Leon Henry (10 points) all kept the table officials busy.
But it was Hemel’s commitment to rebounding and taking care of the ball that pleased their Coach the most: “We’ve struggled at times this season and lost some games because of poor rebounding,” said Youngblood, “and yet against a physical and big team like Manchester we were able to out-rebound them 51 – 37 which was a terrific effort from everyone – we had seven guys pull four or more boards each.
“And we also made fewer handling mistakes which meant we got more shots than them.”
Despite nailing five three-pointers in a high tempo first period Storm needed free-throws to recover from a 13 – 17 early deficit to lead at the first break 29 – 28.
But the second quarter was decisive as Hemel forced Manchester into ball-handling mistakes, produced some tenacious rebounding and used the extra possession to raid Magic’s basket and build a 59 – 41 half-time lead.
While Storm maintained their scoring rate after the break Manchester’s 6’ 11” centre Richard Bell (33 points) helped his team’s cause by scoring inside Hemel’s defence with some accomplished post play.
But the Storm steam-roller could not be stopped and when Ian Berry sank a mid-range jump-shot as the buzzer sounded at the end of the quarter, his side were ahead 91- 60.
An 11- 0 run by the visitors in the final quarter reduced the final margin but the game was already over as a contest.
Storm team and scorers: Bode Adeluola 18, Leome Francis 16, Jack Burnell 14, Blayne Freckleton 13, Levi Noel 11, Leon Henry 10, Tom Adorian 9, Jamie Hayes 7, Ian Berry 6, Shaquille Lewis 5, Sam Dunscombe 1, Tom Martin.
Storm’s first home game of 2019 is on Sunday 6th January, tip-off 5pm, at Hemel Leisure Centre against Essex Leopards in the last of the National Trophy pool games. For tickets please go to the "tickets and shop" tab above
Photo caption: Storm’s Bode Adeluola top scored with 18 points and had 9 assists
(Photo: Lin Titmuss)