Hemel Storm’s U18 team continued their impressive undefeated run by outshooting the league leading Bristol Academy Flyers 87-79 at JFK School on Sunday afternoon.
With Hemel having won their last six games and Bristol only losing once all season, it was always going to be a close game – and that’s certainly how it started.
Three-pointers by Tom Sharpe and Jack Burnell gave Storm the early lead but, by halfway through the first quarter, the scores were tied at 11-11.
A steal and lay-up by Burnell kept the scores level with three minutes to play, and further threes by Burnell and Lewis Beardsworth inside the last minute looked to give their side the lead at the end of the first.
However, a tall and quick Bristol team scored just before the buzzer to lead by just one at 21-20.
Once again the second quarter was close, with Storm edging out to a six-point lead at 32-26 after five minutes.
But back came their guests, and yet another Burnell three-pointer was needed with three minutes remaining to keep Storm’s noses in front.
At the end of the half it was Hemel’s turn to lead by one at 38-37.
Another steal, followed by a slam dunk by Burnell, opened the second half and another slam was needed to keep Storm within one point after five minutes.
Hemel then exploded with points in the second five minutes, with three-pointers from Burnell and Sharpe once again.
When Sharpe hit a long two-pointer on the buzzer, Hemel had a 13-point lead at 72-59 and had scored an amazing 34 points in the quarter.
Back came Bristol again with the first five points of the final quarter, before a three in the corner from Storm’s captain Nick Allin settled the home team’s nerves.
Three more triples from the same spot by the same player kept Hemel well in front and, despite an attack of nerves in the final minutes, they went on to win a thrilling match 87-79 in front of their noisy and delighted fans.
Storm’s Head Coach Dave Allin said: “That was a magnificent performance by the lads and the highlight of our year so far.
“It was a 35-point turnaround from earlier in the season which just shows how much work our players have done to improve.
“We won playing fundamental team basketball against a full strength, big and athletic Bristol squad.”
Hemel team and scorers: Burnell top scored with 30 points (including five threes), followed by Allin with 19 and Sharpe with 17. Dan Morton grabbed 9, Beardsworth 6, Gus Rees 4 and Matt Renshaw 2. Max Oblien, Charles Dickinson, David also netted to round off Storm’s scorers.