Hemel Storm returned to winning ways in front of a packed crowd at Sportspace on Saturday when they over-powered basement side Lancashire Spinners by an emphatic 34 points, 109-75, in a National League Division One team victory.
Storm were keen to get back into the winning column after losing to Kent Crusaders last weekend, which came a week after Hemel had won their first national silverware since 2012 following their National Cup final victory over Manchester Magic.
And that glittering moment was recalled on Saturday with the cup trophy put on proud display for all fans to see.
Apart from the opening minute, Storm led throughout the game on Saturday against Lancashire, shared the ball well and ended with five players scoring in double figures while captain Bode Adeluola and forward David Ajumobi recorded a creditable nine points apiece.
The hosts also had a season-high 31 assists while committing a meagre four turnovers. All but one player recorded an assist and the team added 11 steals.
And after last weekend’s accuracy woes against Kent, Hemel were able to return to a much more solid shooting rate, finding the basket at an impressive 55 per cent success rate and hitting 17 of their 23 free-throws.
Before tip-off the Storm players had the opportunity to show the National Cup trophy to fans and they received a standing ovation as it was paraded around the court after Steve Mark, the brand director of Storm’s sponsor Vanarama, and Hemel MP Sir Mike Penning, re-presented the trophy for those supporters who were unable to attend the cup final in East London on January 21.
Although without a win in the league this season, Lancashire have strengthened their roster recently with the signing of 6ft 8ins forward Allie Fullah from BBL side Leeds Force. Storm were able to restrict him to nine points.
The visitors led 5-2 in the opening minute on a Reiss Haggith triple but this was soon erased as Adeluola finished a fast-break with a lay-up, and on the next possession AJ Roberts – Storm’s cup final MVP – buried a three-pointer to spark a run that ended with Hemel ahead 26-17 by the end of the first quarter.
Hemel coach Robert Youngblood substituted freely throughout the game, including at one stage in the second-half replacing five-for-five players. By the end of the second-period of a free-flowing affair, his side had extended their lead to 54-39.
A spell in the middle of the third-quarter saw the visitors held scoreless and Lee Greenan’s free-throws pushed the Hemel advantage to 30 points (79-49) until a late flurry of free-throws and a triple from Spinners’ Oliver Ladlow reduced the deficit to 84-60.
Hemel didn’t let up in the fourth period, winning it 25-15. The stanza included a Chuck Duru shot that took the home team’s score over the 100 mark much to the crowd’s delight, and a debut basket from new signing Ladi Brown.
Youngblood said afterwards: “These can be difficult games if you go into them with the wrong attitude.
“But I thought we gave a professional performance and got a solid win that keeps us in a top-four league spot.
“We had consistent performances from everyone and the 27 points from Spinners’ turnovers was a credit to our defensive intensity.
“We have some tough games ahead of us starting this weekend with Northumbria who are one place below us in the league and, like us, are challenging for a top-four finish to guarantee a home draw in the playoffs.”
Storm team and scorers v Spinners: Wayne Yeboah 16, AJ Roberts 16, Lee Greenan 15, Tom Adorian 12, Mike Darlow 11, Bode Adeluola nine, Dave Adjumobi nine, Chuck Duru eight, Jack Burnell six, Courtney Van-Beest five, Ladi Brown two, Walid Mumuni.
Storm are back at home again this Saturday when they take on Northumbria in a Division One clash at Sportspace. Tip-off is at 7pm.
For tickets or further details, see the website www.stormbasketball.net.