Hemel Storm’s Jekyll and Hyde season continued on Saturday after they lost 92-85 away at tenth-placed Barking Abbey Crusaders in a National League Division One clash.
The loss came just a week after Hemel had convincingly beaten the talented second-placed Worthing Thunder – last year’s playoff champions – in the quarter-finals of the National Cup.
On Saturday, after an even first period, Storm’s Leome Francis, Blayne Freckleton and Leon Henry combined to push Hemel into a double-digit lead, 33-21, before a rally got the Barking home team back on terms, 44-44, at half-time.
Both teams were careless with the ball and shot poorly after the re-start but it was Barking that were able to get extra possessions through their aggressive offensive rebounding, eventually grabbing 49 to Storm’s 29.
The Crusaders produced a 12-0 run late in the third period and looked in control, but a spirited Hemel fightback closed the gap.
A Freckleton lay-up and a Tom Martin jump shot pulled Storm to within 63-71 to set-up a tense final period. Hemel produced a determined charge and with five minutes left their zone defence caused Barking’s offence to dry-up.
Penetrating drives by Storm’s top-scorer Bode Adeluola and two triples from Freckleton got Hemel back to 75-79 as the momentum swung decisively to them, forcing the hosts’ coach Lloyd Gardner to call a time-out.
On resumption, the Crusaders ran off six points without reply. The sides then swapped baskets but with just over a minute to play a three-pointer from Storm’s Levi Noel cut the margin to 82-86.
But that was as close as Storm came as a string of free-throws by Barking gave them the win.
Storm, whose league record is now 1-7, slipped to 11th place in the league table.
A disappointed Hemel head coach Robert Youngblood said: “We were poor and just didn’t play the way we’d trained during the week.
“Rebounding and turnovers really hurt us. Barking had 13 more shots than us because of the offensive rebounds we gave up. I told the guys that to lose games because you’re out-hustled is just not acceptable at this club.
“[Barking] just played harder than we did and that can’t happen again...we saw what we’re capable of last week against Worthing so we’ve got to bring that attitude to every game from now on.”
Team and scorers v Barking Abbey: Bode Adeluola 22, Blayne Freckleton 20, Leome Francis 14, Leon Henry 13, Levi Noel 11, Tom Martin 2, Jamie Hayes 2, Shaquille Lewis 1, Sam Dunscombe, Jack Burnell, Ian Berry.
Storm are back at Hemel Leisure Centre this Saturday (tip-off 7pm) when they host Nottingham Hoods (4-4), who are eighth in the table.
For tickets or further details, visit the website www.stormbasketball.net.
n Hemel Storm’s second team came out on top, 78-76, in a nail-biting finish against Canterbury Crusaders in National League Division Four at the weekend.
Canterbury were on an excellent run of form in the league, losing only one of their opening six games, but it was Hemel II who took the initiative against a well-drilled foe.
Nick Allin (19 points) hit a jump shot with three seconds left to give Hemel a lead and Canterbury’s last-ditch three- pointer bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Spud Kearney top-scored for Hemel with 20 points.