Hemel Storm 87 London United 72
HEMEL storm kept their undefeated National League record in tact as a three-point flurry saw them overcome a young London United side at Sportspace.
Storm scored more than half of their nineteen three-point shot attempts – including four from captain Simon Kearney.
Saturday’s win moves Storm to second place in the National League, two points behind Team Northumbria with a game in hand.
Head coach Dave Titmuss – who was without injured starters Bode Adeluola, Drew Spinks, Michael Darlow and the now departed Andy Harper – substituted freely and gave valuable court time to 17-year-old juniors Jacob Lloyd and Davis Nicholson.
“It was a pretty disjointed performance from us but I guess given our injury situation it wasn’t particularly surprising,” said Titmuss.
The club’s woes were added to in the fourth quarter when the experienced Richard Wellings, who had 16 points, five rebounds and six assists in the game, damaged ankle ligaments again just a couple of weeks after returning to the line-up.
“What started as an irritation has become a full-blown crisis now,” said an exasperated Titmuss.
“We’re trying to reinvent ourselves. We have tough games away at Birmingham Mets and at home to Glamorgan before the Christmas break so there’s not much time to reorganise.”
Titmuss brought in three new starters against London – Tolu Adebekun, James Dawes and Fred Stephens – but it was scoring by captain Simon Kearney and the inside play of Tom Frederick that helped Storm to edge the first quarter 25-23.
Storm’s usually reliable man-to-man defence was consistently penetrated by London but they were able to maintain their lead through some accurate shooting to stay ahead 46-41 by half-time.
“We didn’t think that we should have conceded 41 points in the half so we re-grouped and came out for the third period with more determination to contain them,” said Titmuss.
And in a decisive opening four minutes, London were held scoreless while Storm added eight points and forced an early time-out from the visitors.
Hemel went on to win the third period 30-16 and take control of the game, and although they had lapses at both ends of the court in the final stanza, the result was never in doubt.
Storm travel away to Birmingham Mets on Saturday and are back at Sportspace the following week against third-placed Glamorgan Gladiators, tip-off 7pm.