In a thrilling game Hemel Storm emerged winners 69-66 against Leicester Warriors at Sportspace on Saturday in a National League Division One clash.
Two free-throws in the last second from Hemel’s Leon Henry, who signed from Leicester this season, sealed victory for the home team.
Every possession throughout the 40 minutes was fiercely contested as first one side looked to have the upper hand only for the other to get back on terms. Outstanding rebounding by Storm led by Carl Josey’s season high 13 boards was the crucial difference with the Vanarama-sponsored Hemel grabbing a total of 60 to Leicester’s 41.
No more than three points separated the teams at the end of each quarter and they went into the final stanza locked at 48-all after Hemel’s Chuck Duru pulled down an offensive rebound and powered the ball back into the basket over a crowded Warriors defence.
Duru who signed with Storm this year from Team Northumbria produced his best all-round performance so far for his new team and earned praise from Head Coach Dave Allin who said: “I was determined to extend Chuck’s time on court and it was fantastic to see him make such a big contribution.”
Three pointers from Jack Burnell and Michael Darlow put daylight between the teams early in the final period at 58-49 to Hemel and they kept this margin going into the final 25 seconds leading 66-59 after a Josey assist to Duru for a lay-up and three out of four scored free-throws by Henry. But Hemel fans were left biting their nails as a sequence of indisciplined play threatened to allow Leicester back on terms.
The visitors were awarded five free-throws and scored all of them to trail 67-66 with little more than a second left and were forced to foul to stop the game clock which sent Henry to the free-throw line to clinch the win.
A relieved but delighted Allin said: “Leicester have a lot of talented individuals but our team defence and our ball movement especially in the fourth quarter gave us the edge.
“Before the game we talked about the importance of rebounding and also limiting their penetration. We did both very well in the second half. Carl Josey’s rebounding was outstanding and was a key factor in our win.
“We lost a little bit of discipline and didn’t close out the game as comfortably as I would have liked, but it was a win that we’re all delighted with and will give us confidence for a tough away game against Lituanica in London next week”
Storm team and scorers: Burnell 18, Duru 12, Josey 10, Henry 9, Adorian 7, Darlow 7, Mumuni 5, Yeboah 1, Allin, Rodwell, Williams.
Storm’s next home game is against Lancashire Spinners on Saturday, November 19 at Sportspace, tip-off 7pm. Tickets and information at: www.stormbasketball.net