Hemel Storm just could not quite do enough in Manchester on Sunday evening to knock the Magic out of the National Trophy.
Playing with their returning talisman Bode Adeluola for the first time since the end of October and also new Australian forward Darren Best, Storm gave it their all but, as has happened too many times lately, turnovers came back to haunt them.
Those turnovers gave the home side a flying start and Hemel found themselves 16-4 down halfway through the first quarter.
Seven points from debutante Best and four each from Bode and Kenroy Wood were not enough to stop the Magic from claiming a nine point lead at 20-29 at the end of the first period.
A Storm time-out after four minutes of the second quarter, with the team trailing 38-29, failed to stem the tide as the home side scored the next eight points to leave Hemel in a huge hole at 46-29 down.
Storm answered with the next six points but still trailed 48-35 with two minutes left in the half.
Storm kept up the fight, though, with that man Best to the fore, to go in at half-time only trailing by seven at 48-41.
Several missed shots to start the second half allowed Manchester to open the lead back up to 11 before Best’s first three-pointer for the club pulled it back to eight.
Five minutes in and the Magic had opened the lead up to 12 points at 60-48, but with Storm now managing to force turnovers themselves, they scored the next seven to reduce the home side’s lead back to single figures.
Once again poor shooting by Storm would not let them trim the lead further and it was the Magic that held a 10-point lead at 67-57 at the end of the period, despite a second three from Best.
It was still the Best show at the start of the fourth as he scored the first four points to give his side some hope, but Manchester went on a run of their own to open the lead back out to 11 with seven minutes to play.
With just three minutes left and the deficit still the same, Storm tried everything they could to get back in the game, but despite two Carl Josey three-pointers Manchester comfortably claimed an 11-point victory at 79-90.
Storm scorers were led by a stunning debut from Best with 31 points, followed by Adeluola and Josey with 14 each. Tom Adorian added 8 points and 10 rebounds, while Kenroy Wood chipped in with seven, skipper Simon Kearney got three and Walid Mumuni two to round off the scoring.
Storm’s head coach Steve Darlow said: “We need a little time to properly integrate Bode back into the team and also our new signing Darren although, offensively, he had a terrific debut for us.”
Hemel Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday, January 31 at 7pm against Team Northumbria in a National League Division One game.
For tickets and more information, please visit www.stormbasketball.net