Mixed week but Hemel Storm make National Cup progress

Shaquille Lewis goes for the basket in Hemel Storm’s National Cup success against Northants Titans. Picture by Joanne CharlesShaquille Lewis goes for the basket in Hemel Storm’s National Cup success against Northants Titans. Picture by Joanne Charles
Shaquille Lewis goes for the basket in Hemel Storm’s National Cup success against Northants Titans. Picture by Joanne Charles
Hemel Storm suffered a loss in the NBL but bounced back in the National Cup during a double-header of matches last weekend

It was another mixed weekend for Hemel Storm as they fell to defeat to Worthing Thunder in the NBL before making further progress in the National Cup.

The first part of the weekend double-header saw Vanarama-sponsored Storm up against a Thunder team who came into the game with a 6-1 record and Storm eventually came up short as they were beaten 95-85.

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The first quarter started in Thunder’s favour with new signing Lucien Christofis sinking two early three-point shots but Storm replied with a three-pointer from American Greg Poleon.

It remained fairly equal in terms of possession of the ball until the end of the quarter with Storm holding a 24-22 lead at the quarter break.

Storm started the second quarter well and it remained closed as both teams struggled to find good shots to be executed to perfection and it was Thunder who took a 41-37 advantage into half-time.

When Taylor Johnson reduced the lead to one, it looked like Storm were coming back but Worthing found their shooting touch again with Tom Ward making it 57-50 at one stage.

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Storm did pull it back towards the end of the quarter and, with Thunder leading 63-61, it meant there was all to play for in the last.

Storm tied the scores up with Jack Burnell finding the basket from way beyond the three-point arc.

Worthing regrouped and then came back with some shots of their own, and got Storm into foul trouble quite early on, making it even harder to defend.

A series of missed shots made the difference as Thunder went on a good run to increase the points gap even more and secure the win.

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Storm had to move on quickly as they faced Northants Titans in the National Cup.

The first quarter showed a major improvement at both ends of the court with Storm going up against two former players in Leon Henry and Leome Francis.

Storm passed the ball well and took shots from good distances which resulted in easy baskets and a very good start.

Defence was a lot better than the day before as Storm opened up a lead of 28-14.

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Storm maintained their high intensity and quick ball movement in the second quarter and, despite big shots from Francis and Jason Tucker for the visitors, Hemel held a 55-32 advantage at the half.

There was no third-quarter curse for Storm this time and they played to their strength with Johnson seeing a lot of joy from inside the three-point line, ending up on a good 28 points.

This was to be Storm’s highest scoring quarter as they won it 33-17 to go into the final period with an 88-49 lead.

The big lead meant game time could be given to University of Hertfordshire Storm players Temitayo Fatusin and Toby Gastaldi-Davies who immediately showed their hunger with a three-pointer for the pair of them and some great hustle to force some turnovers in Storm’s favour.

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In the end, Storm claimed a deserved 106-69 victory and are now through to the National Cup quarter-finals where they will host either BA London Lions or Oaklands Wolves on Saturday, December 5 (7pm tip off).

Tickets are available online at www.stormbasketball.net or can be purchased at the door on the night.

Storm, meanwhile, have confirmed their sponsorship arrangement with Arriva will continue for the current season.

This agreement extends a transport and kit sponsorship partnership that began in 2016.

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Since this time Storm players and fans have enjoyed the provision and luxury of the Arriva fleet of ‘Green Line’ coaches as the club have travelled to all parts of the country competing in the National Basketball League and associated cup competitions.

Storm chairman Tony Humphrey said: “Our thanks to the Arriva team at Hemel and Luton for agreeing to provide our transport needs, it’s a partnership we love and it makes a huge impact to our determination to be a leading force in national basketball and a source of sporting entertainment for our local community.”

Storm fans will be aware of the huge transport role that Arriva delivers on local bus routes as well as routes beyond Hemel, including the link between Luton airport and the capital.

General manager at Arriva in Hemel Hempstead Scott O’ Neill added: “The Arriva teams in Hemel and Luton are thrilled to once again be working with Storm.

“It’s a partnership we value and enjoy and it’s motivating to support Storm’s growing following and their basketball influence across our town and local area.”