Hemel Storm came within a whisker of a dramatic last gasp win against Bradford Dragons at Sportspace on Saturday but after fighting back from 17 points down they eventually lost 104 – 94 in overtime.
In a National League Division One clash the Vanarama-sponsored Hemel edged into a two point first quarter lead as Wayne Yeboah and Leon Henry led the way with a combined 15 points.
Bradford’s American centre Ricky Fetske showed early dominance close to the basket and compatriot Marcus Gooding gave a taste of things to come with two early three pointers.
The Dragons stamped their authority on the game in the second quarter as Gooding netted five from seven three pointers in a remarkable display of long range shooting. Bradford’s supremacy continued and early in the third period they had amassed a 17 point lead.
Storm were in desperate need of a spark to trigger a comeback and it came from a defensive switch as club captain, Walid Mumuni, took on the responsibility of guarding the free-scoring Gooding. Mumuni’s stifling defence held him to just three points in the quarter and the home team trimmed the deficit to ten.
Hemel’s momentum continued as Hemel youngster Jack Burnell stole the limelight with four long range shots of his own and Michael Darlow put on a rebounding masterclass seemingly grabbing every missed shot at either end of the court.
Propelled by the raucous home crowd, Storm had reduced Bradford’s lead to just three points and with less than a minute to go Burnell calmly sank three free-throws to tie the scores at 91. The Dragons failed to score with their next possession and a foul on Darlow gave him two free throws with just 21 second remaining and a chance to give his team the lead, but his usual reliability from the line deserted him as both shots failed to drop.
The Dragons’ final attempt to win the game on the last possession failed and the game went to an extra five minute period.
Bradford took the initiative in overtime as Gooding re-asserted himself hitting 10 straight points. Storm couldn’t find a response and resorted to some desperate shooting in an effort to get back in the game. But it was not to be.
Storm’s Coach Dave Allin said: “We were absolutely devastated not to get the win. Having recovered from a 17 point deficit we were really confident going into overtime but took some bad shots after Bradford regained the lead.
“We have a lot of positives to take from the game. Michael Darlow’s 20 rebounds was outstanding and Jack Burnell’s shooting in the last quarter got us back into the game although overall it was a fantastic recovery that took a collective effort.
“We’re confident that we can improve in the New Year. Our form is much better and Carl Josey will make a big difference as he returns from injury.”
Team and scorers: Burnell 25, Yeboah 20, Darlow 13, Henry 12, Rhodes 11, Mumuni 11, Duru 2, Adorian, Allin, Wood, Rodwell
Storm’s next home game is on Sunday, January h against Loughborough Riders when Hemel will be kitted out in a new black and orange strip for the first time as part of the sponsorship from Hemel-based Vanarama. For tickets go to www.stormbasketball.net