After fighting back from a double digit deficit in the second period, Hemel Storm produced a stunning fourth quarter blitz to seal an 89-71 National League Division One win over Leicester Warriors.
The Warriors jumped out to a 12-point lead early in the second period, but Hemel steadily recovered as their guard tandem of Bode Adeluola and Nik Rhodes orchestrated some slick offence while their pressing defence began to force Leicester into ball-handling errors.
Storm’s recovery was complete going into the last minute of the second stanza as a Mike Darlow jump-shot and steals by Adeluola and Rhodes led to lay-ups and a 39-35 lead at the half-time break.
There were no signs in the third quarter of what was to come as neither team could break the game open, and a possession by possession battle continued throughout the period with no more than one basket separating the sides.
It took a sublime Rhodes assist to co-captain Walid Mumuni and a three-point shot by the Storm forward to give the visitors a 62-59 edge as the period ran out.
But Storm took over in the fourth, led by their mercurial guard Adeluola, who eventually top-scored with 31 points and also dished out six assists.
When Rhodes swished a three-point shot with six minutes to go, it gave Hemel their first double digit lead of the game at 76-65 to the delight of their travelling supporters.
Hemel’s uncompromising defence was typified by centre Tom Adorian’s exceptional rebounding. His team-leading 17 rebounds limited Leicester’s second shot opportunities and they were held to just 12 fourth quarter points while Storm netted 27.
In the home fixture earlier in the season it had taken overtime to eventually separate the teams, with Storm just edging it 80-76.
Hemel’s improvement was not lost on co-coach Dave Allin, who said: “Our team has great chemistry and we really dug deep early in the game when our shots weren’t falling and Leicester was building a lead.
“Our focus in practice on doing the little things that make the difference really came out in that fourth quarter when our ball pressure and anticipation were excellent. The win is another big step for us towards qualifying for the play-offs.”
Storm team and scorers: Adeluola 31, Adorian 18, Rhodes 13, Edwards 8, Darlow 7, Mumuni 7, Kearney 5, Allin, Wood, Percival, Rodwell.
Storm’s next home game is on Saturday at Sportspace against Essex Leopards, tip-off 7pm. For tickets and information see www.stormbasketball.net