Hemel Storm’s young guns fought back from a heavy first quarter deficit but couldn’t prevent a 98-79 loss to Reading Rockets at Sportspace on Saturday.
In the first National League Division One game of the season youngsters Jack Burnell, Nick Allin and Mike Darlow – all former Storm juniors – helped get their team back on terms with a flurry of three-pointers as Hemel won extra possession through the tireless rebounding of centre Tom Adorian who grabbed a game high 14 boards.
Storm trailed 48-44 going into the half-time break but defensive mistakes cost them dearly in the third quarter when they conceded 15 free-throws that allowed the visitors to build a winning margin from the free-throw line and go into the final stanza ahead 71-56.
Darlow, who produced an outstanding individual performance hitting 16 points and grabbing three rebounds, had to leave the game under the five fouls rule in the final minute of the period when he was mistakenly charged with a foul that was committed by a teammate.
Despite trading baskets in the last period Reading, led by American import Christopher Hooper who top-scored with 23 points and had three assists, saw out the game comfortably.
Hemel Head Coach Dave Allin said: “Conceding 30 points in the first quarter was not acceptable and we’ll look closely at why that happened, but to turn that around and regain the lead in the second quarter was fantastic.
“We’ve proved to ourselves that we can compete with top teams but we need to find more consistency in our play.
“At times we are terrific at both ends of the floor but we have to sustain that level of performance. Our rebounding, especially, was much improved from the previous game so we’ll continue working hard to get better in each area.
“Everyone is frustrated with the loss but we have two big games next weekend in the Cup and League which gives us a great opportunity to get back to winning ways. We won’t be taking anything for granted, I have no doubt that these will be two tough games.”
Hemel Team and scorers: Darlow 16, Henry 16, Adorian 14, Yeboah 13, Burnell 10, Mumuni (Captain) 6, Allin 3, Duru 1, Wood, Rodwell, Williams.
Storm’s next home game is thisFriday, October 14, tip-off 8pm against Northants Tauras in the third round of the National Cup. Tickets and information at: www.stormbasketball.net