There was a thrilling climax at Sportspace on Saturday evening as Hemel Storm beat a very skilful and well coached London Lituanica team 74-72 with a last-second jump shot by Nik Rhodes.
There was very little evidence of what was to come in the final few hectic seconds as Lituanica took an early 7-4 lead which they held for the first few minutes.
A three-pointer by guard Nik Rhodes got the lead back to two points with four minutes left and Hemel then tied the game briefly as things started to heat up.
Hemel snatched the lead with two minutes to go and held on to end the quarter up by just two at 27-25.
Storm stepped up their defence in the second period and held their opponents to just 10 points in the entire quarter.
Gradually Storm edged away and a triple by Walid Mumuni inside the last minute gave his side a 14-point lead which was trimmed to 12 at 47-35 as the half-time hooter went.
The third quarter often turns out to be the pivotal point in a basketball match and this one looked to be no exception for quite some time.
It was not a good quarter for the home side who made far too many errors at both ends of the court as the team from the capital came charging back.
With two minutes left the lead had been reduced to just five points and by the end was down to only four at 58-54 in Storm’s favour.
Two minutes into the final period the score was tied and the lead went back and forth until halfway through when Lituanica held a five-point advantage at 67-62.
With just three and a half minutes left, a succession of steals by the home side saw them eke out a one-point lead at 70-69 which Bode Adeluola stretched to three with a jump shot with one minute left.
With seven seconds on the clock Lituanica had a chance to re-take the lead with two free-throws but they could only convert one to tie the score at 72-72.
Following a Storm time-out, Hemel had just 6.4 seconds to win the contest and win it they did with the sweetest of fade-away jump shots by Rhodes.
The buzzer went as the ball swished through the net and the capacity crowd went wild and piled jubilantly onto the court in celebration.
Tom Adorian top scored for Storm with 25 points; Rhodes got 16 including his last second heroics, and Adeluola hit 14. Mumuni chipped in with 11, Damian Edwards bagged four and Spud Kearney and Kenroy Wood got two apiece to round off the Hemel scorers.
Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday, January 30 at 7pm against Kent Crusaders in a National League Division One game.
For tickets and more information, visit www.stormbasketball.net