Eagles swoop to deny out-of-sorts Storm

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Hemel Storm 85 Eastside Eagles 76

HEMEL Storm’s worst three-point shooting performance of the season saw them fall to defeat against London’s Eastside Eagles at Sportspace on Saturday.

Hemel Storm's Simon Kearney. Picture courtesy of Andy Brain.

Hemel Storm's Simon Kearney. Picture courtesy of Andy Brain.

In front of a packed crowd, Storm struggled to contain a recently-strengthened Eagles squad who they had beaten twice earlier in the year.

There was further frustration for Dave Titmuss’ Storm side as only seven of their 24 three-point attempts found the bottom of the net.

Eastside, meanwhile, were much more efficient from behind the arc – connecting on nearly half of their 21 long-range shots for 30 points.

Coach Titmuss said: “Eastside shot the three extremely well and we were always chasing the game.

“Each time we got close or had a small lead they hit a big shot or we fouled and sent them to the free-throw line”.

There were early warning signs for Storm as the Eagles jumped to a first quarter 19-14 lead when three different players all hit three-pointers while Storm’s offence stuttered.

A better second quarter saw two of Storm’s 17-year-old youth squad players – Michael Darlow and Jacob Lloyd – perform extremely well as their team recovered some offensive form to take the period 22-20 and go into the locker room at half-time trailing 39 -36.

“We were frustrated by our first half performance,” said Titmuss. “But you have to credit Eagles for the way they scored despite our defensive pressure.

“We felt that although we were trailing we had the momentum.”

The team’s traded baskets in the third period until a late scoring flurry put the visitors 61-53 ahead going into the fourth quarter.

Storm’s Rich Wellings opened the final stanza with a three-pointer, quickly followed by another from Drew Spinks.

With two minutes left and the score 78-76 in Eastside’s favour, Storm stole the ball with a chance to tie or go ahead but the possession was squandered and the visitors sealed the win with a series of free-throws as time ran out.

Storm’s leading scorers for the game were Spinks and Simon Kearney with 16, while Tom Frederick added 12.

Hemel must now lift themselves for Sunday’s National Patron’s Cup semifinal against Team Solent which takes place at Sportspace, tip-off 4pm.

Storm are the holders of the trophy which they won in their inaugural season last year, beating London United in the final.

Ticket details can be found at www.stormbasketball.net