HEMEL Storm made it two wins in as many days in a superb weekend for the club.
Storm saw off Mansfield Giants in the National League on Saturday, before making it through to the Patron’s National Cup final after defeating Team Solent in the semi-final at Sportspace on Sunday.
In the cup clash, Hemel produced a stunning second quarter performance to lead by 26 points going into the break and eventually won 81-72 after holding off a Solent comeback.
Hemel are the current holders of the trophy, having won it last season in the club’s inaugural year.
They will now meet Killamarsh Arrows in the final in Leicester on Sunday, after Killamarsh defeated London Westside in the other semi-final.
On Sunday, the teams traded baskets in the first quarter until Storm switched to their pressing defence.
Two steals and lay-ups from their diminutive guard and eventual top-scorer Bode Adeluola put daylight between the teams at 25-18 and signalled the start of a Solent collapse.
In the second quarter, Solent’s scoring dried-up in the face of Storm’s stifling defence and Hemel won the quarter 25-6 to take a commanding 50-24 half-time lead.
“We played some of our best basketball of the season in that second period,” said delighted Storm coach Dave Titmuss.
“We were able to control Solent’s key scorers by switching defences and keeping them guessing. And our excellent defence led to fast-breaks that Bode, Simon Kearney and Drew Spinks converted into points.”
However, Storm nearly let all of their good work slip as their opponents turned the tables to win the third quarter 27-12 through improved defence, accurate shooting and Hemel’s stuttering offence.
Storm regained their composure, though, and saw out the last quarter to take the win.
“Although we had that big lead at half time we lost all of the defensive aggression that put us in such a commanding position,” said Titmuss.
“It can be difficult to play well when you’re ahead like that but I credit Solent for how they adjusted defensively, plus we allowed them too many unchallenged shots.
“But we showed excellent character and were able to play them even in the fourth quarter and come out with the win”
The previous day, Storm had seen off Mansfield 93-88 in a gripping league encounter.
Storm’s Drew Spinks poured in a season’s high 38 points, including scoring 11 from 12 free-throws, to lead his team to victory.
Hemel were down 43 – 47 at half time but fought back in the third quarter to take a five point lead into the final stanza.
The teams were never separated by more than six points throughout the game and it was Hemel’s ability to win 60 per cent of the rebounds that proved key to the victory.