A brave performance by Hemel Storm came up short on Saturday evening as they were beaten 92-76 by National League Division One table toppers Manchester Magic. Trailing by just five points in the fourth quarter, a depleted Hemel squad ran out of steam as the home team went on a 22-11 run to secure the win.
Having missed their first three shots of the game, Hemel did well to trail by only one half-way through the first quarter at 12-11, with guard Bode Adeluola scoring seven of those 11 points.
A series of turnovers by both sides led to Magic holding a three-point lead with three minutes left, but two quick triples by Walid Mumuni and Carl Josey gave Storm the lead with just a minute remaining. Manchester got the last score of the period, meaning Hemel trailed 19-20 at the first interval.
It was the home side that started the second quarter in the ascendancy, though, as they scored the first 11 points to lead by 12, before a Kenroy Wood-inspired Hemel started to clamber their way back into the game.
Damian Edwards finally got the away side on the board with a jump shot before Wood followed a big dunk with two steals and a couple of lay-ups to bring his side back to within four at 27-31.
As Manchester started to stretch their lead again, it was Wood - this time with a three - who ensured his side trailed by just seven at the half-time break at 43-36.
Adeluola opened the third period with a triple but more missed shots meant Hemel could not eat into the home side’s lead and it was the Magic up 53-42 five minutes in.
Another Wood triple and three successful jump shots by Nick Rhodes kept their side in the game but the home team still led 68-56 by the end of the period.
Once again Adeluola opened the final quarter with a triple, and a further three by Josey brought Hemel back to within five points.
However, as the away team tired, Manchester’s rebounding dominance on the boards at both ends resulted in a flattering 92-76 scoreline in their favour.
Storm’s co-coach Dave Titmuss said: “Manchester has a talented and deep roster and are well coached.
“Successful teams in this division have increasingly over recent years recruited European as well as American talent to bolster their squads.
“Their impact was clear on Saturday, with 82 per cent of Manchester’s scoring coming from imported players.
“I think we must look again at our own approach to recruitment if we are to be truly competitive in the future.”
Hemel Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday at 7pm against Reading Rockets in a National League Division One game.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net