A depleted Hemel Storm squad struggled against Westminster Warriors at a packed Sportspace on Saturday evening before an excellent fourth quarter proved enough to seal a 90-84 victory.
The first quarter was close the whole way, with neither team leading by more than two points at any time in the period.
A rare three-pointer by Kenroy Wood to tie the score at 8-8 was probably the home side’s highlight, but big Tom Adorian was a beast under both baskets and the two of them were most of the reason that Storm took a two-point lead into the second stanza at 19-17.
Co-captain Simon Kearney opened the second quarter with a triple to extend Hemel’s lead, and a 7-0 run by the home team – including a second Kearney three – eased them out to a 10-point lead at 29-19 four minutes in.
Wood doubled his tally of triples to put a break on a Westminster fightback, and a long three by Bode Adeluola kept Storm’s lead at seven points which they held until the half-time buzzer.
Third quarter honours undoubtedly went to the Warriors, though, as they gradually chipped away at Storm’s lead.
Nik Rhodes’ first three of the night and another from Kearney kept the home side’s noses in front until the last couple of minutes, but it was Westminster who led at the end of the quarter, 65-63.
The fourth quarter was a tense affair, with both sides making mistakes, but slowly it was Hemel’s turn to take control.
An Adeluola jump shot with just under five minutes to play gave them the lead back for the first time in the period, however Adorian fouled out of the game soon after the halfway point and the Warriors seized the opportunity to retake the lead once again.
Kearney’s fourth triple of the game with two-and-a-half minutes to play tied the game at 80-80, and a Walid Mumuni lay-up gave the home side the lead once again to swing the game back in their favour.
With 30 seconds left Nik Rhodes brought the crowd to its feet with a trade-mark three under massive pressure to effectively secure the win for Storm, which they confirmed from the free-throw line to run out 90-84 winners.
“We just had to find a way to win,” said Hemel co-coach Dave Titmuss. “Three key players were sick with flu, two couldn’t even suit-up for the game and practice was disrupted in the week so we’re delighted to have come away with the win.”
Storm team and scorers: Adeluola top-scored with 21 points, followed by Kearney and Rhodes with 14 apiece. Mumuni got 12, with Adorian and Wood adding 11 each. Michael Darlow rounded out the scorers with seven points, and young guard Nick Allin also got some valuable court time and contributed to the victory.
Hemel Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday, March 12 at 7pm when they take on table topping Manchester Magic in a National League Division One game.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net