Play-off heartbreak for Hemel Storm

Hemel Storm suffered NBL Division One play-off final heartbreak as they were edged out 71-69 by Team Solent Kestrels in Manchester.

Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 8:35 am
Hemel Storm's players and fans pose for the camera after their play-off final loss. Picture by Joanne Charles

A last-quarter comeback wasn’t quite enough for Vanarama-sponsored Storm as they were eventually beaten in a low-scoring contest.

Storm started well and two baskets from American guard Taylor Johnson gave them an early 4-0 lead but Kestrals had a strong finish to the opening quarter and established a 21-13 advantage.

Storm limited Kestrels to five points in the first four minutes of the second corner but a series of turnovers gave Kestrels some easy baskets on the fast breaks, which was the overall deciding factor between the two teams.

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Trailing 41-33 at half-time, things got worse for Storm as a Max Richardson dunk forced Dru Spinks into a further timeout.

After this, the focus seemed to be regained with better decisions being made and they went into the final quarter trailing Kestrels 56-45.

With the game on the line, Storm went on a 7-2 run, which forced Solent coach Matt Guymon into his first timeout of the ball game.

Bode Adeluola tied the game at 57-57 with 6:58 left to play, sending the Storm faithful into pandemonium but Kestrels were quick to respond, regaining a five-point lead due to more turnovers from Storm.

It took the full 24 seconds for Sam Newman to bank in a three pointer to put Storm in the lead with 2:47 remaining, and with Solent turning the ball over, Guymon took his second timeout to refocus his players.

An unsportsmanlike foul was called on Storm when trying to regain possession of the ball after a turnover sent Travis Charles to the line for 2 free throws to tie the game and possession of the ball. He scored both and a Gentry layup put Solent in the lead with 17 seconds to go.

Storm had a chance to tie the game, but strong defence meant unfortunately another turnover allowed the Kestrels to dribble the ball to run the game clock down.

Storm were a credit to their huge army of fans who made the long journey to Manchester but their remarkable season, which saw them win Best Match Night Experience and Johnson making it into the NBL Division One Team of the Year, is now over.