Hemel Storm are guaranteed a place in the National Trophy quarter-finals after two convincing wins at the weekend – defeating Essex Leopards 98-67 at home on Saturday and Kent Crusaders 92-68 away the next day.
Storm have games left against Westminster Warriors and Reading Rockets but will qualify from the southern pool regardless of the outcome of these games to advance to the last eight.
Storm simply blew the Leopards away at Sportspace on Saturday evening, scoring a massive 98 points including 12 three-point shots.
It was a magnificent team performance and made up for the many defeats at the hands of their local rivals in the past.
It was the away side that shot out of the blocks at the start, but a lack of point scoring meant that they led by just four points before Bode Adeluola and Nik Rhodes scored lay-ups to tie the score at 4-4 with four minutes played.
Storm burst into a 9-6 lead through a Carl Josey three-pointer and, from that point on, they didn’t look back
With four minutes to go in the first half, Hemel extended their lead to 14-6, before a three from forward Michael Darlow pushed Storm 10 points clear with just over a minute to play. Yet another three, this time from Bode Adeluola gave his side a 26-14 lead at the first break.
Things would only get worse for the visitors when the second quarter got under way as both Simon Kearney and Nik Rhodes got in on the three-point act with long buckets of their own.
Hemel opened up an 18-point lead with a couple of minutes to go and Walid Mumuni hit yet another triple with 45 seconds left to send his team into the locker room with a more than substantial 22-point lead at 49-27.
If the Leopards thought it couldn’t get any worse they were wrong as the Storm hit two more triples, by Rhodes and Josey which helped to build up a huge 29-point advantage at 62-33 with four minutes left in the third.
Hemel were playing their best basketball of the season now and Essex had no answer, trailing by 25 points at 71-46.
In the final quarter, Storm continued to bombard the Leopards’ basket, with Nick Allin notching yet another home team triple before Rhodes took over – scoring nine points for his team on the trot.
A final three-pointer by Kenroy Wood sealed things for the Storm.
The follow day in Gillingham, Hemel were up against a young Kent Crusaders squad and, in an all-round team performance, established a 49-31 half-time lead with accurate shooting and determined defence.
By the end of the game, five Hemel players had hit double-figures: Adeluola (17), Kearney (14), Josey (14), Rhodes (13) and Adorian (10).
Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday, October 24 at 7pm against Derby Trailblazers in their National League Division One opener.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net