Hemel Storm leave it late to fight back for much-needed win

Storm delighted the home crowd with a narrow success

By Jon Dunham
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 8:12 am
The Hemel Storm faithful generated an excellent atmosphere as their team produced a thrilling comeback win over Reading Rockets last weekend. Picture by Joanne Charles

Hemel Storm produced a superb fightback to claim an 82-78 home victory over Reading Rockets in a highly-anticipated encounter.

Vanarama-sponsored Storm came into the game off the back of two straight defeats against Derby Trailblazers and Thames Valley Cavaliers, meaning it was vital for them to get back on track.

And, despite leaving it late into the last quarter, the did just that.

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Taylor Johnson led the scoring with 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists, followed by Greg Poleon who had 16 points and nine rebounds.

The first quarter started as a low scoring affair, taking nearly two minutes for Tayo Oyefusi to score the first points of the game.

This was swiftly responded to by Rockets guard Jaz Bains with a step back three-pointer.

He was Reading’s stand out performer along with centre Meshack Lufile, scoring 49 of their 78 points overall.

This quarter was where both teams were getting to learn each other’s strengths and how to use their weaknesses to gain advantage but it was Storm who held a 20-14 advantage.

But what looked like a good start for Storm was quickly wiped off as mistakes saw them give up three easy baskets to tie the game.

Coach Dru Spinks had seen enough after just two minutes of the quarter, calling a timeout following a Bains three-pointer, which put Reading in front.

Reading went on to score 32 points and gave up just 19 as Storm found themselves 46-39 down at half-time.

Storm came out of the locker room trying to find a way back into the game but Reading were strong in their defence and limited Storm to hard shots and managed to use the power of Canadian Lufile to score past the helpless Storm defence.

Storm pushed and did manage to gain momentum but whenever Storm scored, Reading would always seem to match that and re-establish the lead that they had worked hard for.

Going into the final quarter, Storm trailed 69-60 but whatever was spoken about worked as, with a combination of amazing defence and offence, Storm got back into the game relatively quickly.

The Storm faithful increased the atmosphere as they spurred their team on.

With 1:50 remaining, a Sam Newman three-pointer put Storm in front by a point.

After being quickly replied to by a Bains three-pointer, Newman was fouled on his three-point attempt sending him to the line for three free throws.

He made two of his three and, with Poleon and Johnson scoring their shots before the buzzer, it gave Storm that much-needed win.

Storm now go into two away games at Leicester Warriors on Saturday and Worthing Thunder on February 19 before being at home in a double-header weekend against Bradford Dragons February 26 and Nottingham Hoods on February 27 to conclude a busy month for the Storm programme.

Tickets for the next home games are available to order in advance at www.stormbasketball.net