A pumped up Hemel Storm returned to winning ways with a 32-point away triumph over their local rivals Essex & Herts Leopards in the NBL Division One on Sunday.
The nomadic Leopards have played at locations as diverse as Harlow, Dagenham, Colchester, Barking and Ware in recent times and have now settled some ten miles away from their local rivals at Oaklands College in St Albans.
But as if to continue tradition, this Division One clash was played 40 miles away in Brentwood, Essex.
Leopards were winless going into the game but started much the brighter on Sunday, going on a 9-0 scoring run to lead 35-21 in the early stages.
Their offence penetrating the Hemel defence at will and their long-range shooting proved to be very effective.
The porous defence needed urgent attention as Storm conceded 35 points in the first ten minutes to their bottom-of-the-league opponents to trail 35-28 at the end of the first quarter.
But a 9-2 run at the start of the second period, sparked by five points from Sam Newman, gave Hemel their first lead of the game at 41-40.
Leopards regained the lead but a 12-0 scoring streak put the visitors in a degree of control to lead by eight points, 59-51, at half-time.
Storm then found their groove, with point guard Bode Adeluola proving a menace with his drives to the hoop and accurate shooting from beyond the three-point arc.
He was supported by an efficient high-percentage shooting display from US import Mike Williams.
A 33-17 third-quarter display gave Hemel a comfortable 24-point lead, 92-68, and they wrapped up the rout with a 24-16 fourth-period romp for a final score of 116-84.
Adeluola led Storm with 29 points and seven assists, while Williams hit 24 points.
Team-mate Will Ashby added 14, Hemel’s 7ft centre Lee Hodges contributed 13 and Newman chipped in with 13.
Hodges also pulled down 13 rebounds for another double-double performance on the stat sheet.
The 6ft 7ins forward Hafeez Abdul hit a game-high 37 points for Leopards, while guard Jerelle Okoro finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds for the hosts.
The victory puts the Storm league record at a healthy four wins and one loss to leave them in equal second place in the early league standings alongside fellow 4-1 teams Reading Rockets, Thames Valley Cavaliers and Derby Trailblazers. They all trail the 5-0 leaders Solent Kestrels.
Storm now face a tricky double-header away clash this weekend.
They travel to Thames Valley this Saturday in league action, while Sunday sees them begin their National Cup campaign away at BC Medelynas London.
Away travel is available to both games. For further details, visit the website www.stormbasketball.net
Hemel’s next home clash is the following Saturday, November 9, when the seventh-places Loughborough Riders (3-2) visit Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre.
n Hemel Storm’s second team bounced back from last week’s loss with a hard-fought 83-79 home win over Anglia Ruskin University in NBL Division Three at the weekend.
The visitors took a 5-0 lead but Storm responded with 10 points, including four from 7ft 3ins centre Ollie Dykes, but he was forced to the bench early due to foul trouble.
Trailing 19-21, the game turned in the second quarter when tenacious Hemel defence on the perimeter from new recruit Atif Kahn and dominant rebounding from Mike Coumas restricted Ruskin and put Storm ten points ahead.
Ruskin upped the tempo, forced turnovers and shot well in the third stanza as Hemel were relieved to retain a slender 52-51 advantage.
Storm regained their composure and stretched the lead back to nine, with new man Mac Mavhangira giving an assured performance (eight of ten points in final period).
A late three-pointer from Ruskin made the last seconds a little uncomfortable but Hemel hung on for a four-point win.
Nick Allin hit a team-high 17 points for Storm, while Daryl Craine added 14 and Dykes finished with 13.
Storm II travel to Bury St Edmunds Bulldogs this Saturday.