AN injury-hit Hemel Storm pulled off two terrific performances in the inaugural Anglo-American Challenge Elkins Cup at Sportspace on Saturday.
Hemel beat USA-Select B 97-87, before narrowly missing out in the final minutes 86-77 against the touring team’s A side.
The games were staged as part of Storm’s pre-season preparations for the new National League and Cup season.
With key players Rich Wellings and Drew Spinks sidelined, Storm’s new-look team relied on some stand-out performances from the likes of academy player Michael Darlow – the youngster pulled down 18 rebounds over the two games.
New signings Andy Harper and Bode Adeluola, meanwhile, along with the returning Tom Frederick, showed great footwork and deft touches around the basket to draw fouls from the visitors.
In the first game Storm gave a glimpse of the team’s potential as they played uncompromising man-to-man defence and moved the ball well on offence.
Hemel were in control throughout the game and won in some style.
In the second match, Storm were able to maintain their challenge until the closing minutes when some inspired shooting by the visitors just gave them the edge.
Storm head coach Dave Titmuss said: “We have taken a significant step forward from our pre-season training.
“To play so well without Rich and Drew was pleasing. I thought Bode’s leadership and lightening quickness in the backcourt was the catalyst for our performances.
“There’s still lots to do but we’re ahead of where I thought we’d be at this stage.”
Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning, who was among the packed crowd at Sportspace added: “This was a great day for sport in the town.
“My family and I love coming down to watch our lads play, it’s superb entertainment and they’re a great credit to the community”.
Storm are back in action at Sportspace on Saturday in a National Cup game against the Ipswich Tomcats. Tip-off is at 7pm.
Further details on the game, as well as a fixture list for the season, can be found at www.stormbasketball.net
> Pic - Hemel Storm’s Andy Harper. Picture courtesy of Andy Brain.