Hemel Storm were quite simply ripped apart at an overheated Brompton Academy Sports Hall in Gillingham on Saturday afternoon by the newly renamed Kent Crusaders.
In the blisteringly hot venue no-one could have guessed what would happen later in the game as Hemel played the first quarter extremely well and finished it with a four-point lead at 26-22.
The game had started quite evenly before Storm took their first lead of the contest halfway through the quarter at 12-10.
Skipper Simon Kearney extended the lead to five with his team’s first three-pointer of the afternoon, but the Crusaders surged back to tie it at 17-17 with two minutes left.
Bode Adeluola hit a long jump shot as the buzzer went to give Storm their well deserved four-point lead at the first interval.
Things started to go wrong for the away side early in the second quarter, however, as Carl Josey hit the floor hard following a heavy challenge unseen by the officials and had to be led off court with blood streaming from both his nose and mouth.
Hemel lost their lead soon afterwards and were never able to get anywhere near to regaining it for the rest of the contest.
A long three-pointer from Australian Darren Best kept them in the game briefly but a dismal total of just nine points in the period allowed the Kent side to go in at half-time with a three-point lead at 38-35.
A long two-pointer from Tom Adorian opened the third quarter and pulled his side to within one but, by halfway through the period, the home side had a seven-point lead at 46-39.
A fourth foul on Adeluola a minute later – with the injured Carl Josey still off court – put a severe dent in Storm’s chances of a recovery and some poor shooting and even poorer turnovers by Hemel enabled the Crusaders to hold a 63-44 lead with 10 minutes left to play.
For the second quarter in a row, Storm had managed a measly total of just nine points.
Josey bravely came back on court a minute into the final quarter but it didn’t change Hemel’s luck as shot after shot hit the rim and bounced out.
Not at the other end, though, as the Kent side went on an even bigger scoring spree – rattling up no less than 30 points in the period compared to 14 by Storm.
All in all an afternoon to forget for the Hemel Storm players, coaches and travelling fans.