Hemel Storm managed to cope with the departure of star guard Bode Adeluola as they won one of two key National League Division One games over the weekend.
Playing without Adeluola for the first time since his move to Calais Basket in France, Storm lost to an excellent Tees Valley Mohawks side on Saturday evening at Sportspace but bounced back in London the next day to snatch a last minute 76-73 victory against Westminster Warriors.
Storm started the game on Saturday the brighter of the two teams but when the away side tied the scores at 7-7 after three and a half minutes’ play, Hemel were never able to get their noses in front again.
Skipper Simon Kearney had scored five of those seven points but Tees Valley scored 10 points in the next two minutes play to take the lead for good.
Two free-throws by Michael Darlow just before the break kept the lead down to under 10 points, but Storm still trailed 16-24 after one quarter.
That lead edged up to 10 a couple of minutes into the second period where it stayed more or less for the rest of the contest.
Storm did score six points on the trot midway through the quarter to reduce the deficit to six, but it was soon back to 10 as the away side poured on the pressure to lead 41-31 at half-time.
Walid Mumuni opened the second half scoring with a long three-pointer to give Hemel some hope of a comeback, but it was only some great defence by Carl Josey in particular that kept the visitors from pulling even further away.
A huge slam dunk from Tom Adorian kept the deficit at seven before Josey hit a big three to get his side back to just four points behind.
It wasn’t to get any closer, though, as some poor Storm shooting allowed Tees Valley to edge away again and only a three point play by Adorian in the final few seconds kept the deficit in single figures at the end of three periods.
Once again Storm opened the final quarter with a three -pointer, this time by Michael Darlow, but Tees Valley took it in their stride and soon opened up the lead to a game-high 13 points.
A long two by Mumuni reduced the deficit slightly and Hemel managed to get the away side’s lead back to just six once again as they desperately tried to mount a fight-back.
With a minute to go Tees Valley’s lead was eight and, despite Storm throwing everything they could at their visitors from the North-East, the Mohawks saw the game out from the free-throw line for a reasonably comfortable 10-point win at 86-76.
However, things turned around for Storm in London on Sunday afternoon as they faced the always difficult opponents Westminster Warriors.
Trailing 16-24 after one quarter, Hemel managed to pull back within four points at half time to trail just 40-36.
Six down after three quarters at 61-55, Storm’s defence rallied, forced missed shots by their opponent, and snatched the win they needed.