Hemel Storm have exited the National Trophy at the quarter -finals stage after they fell 78-88 at Loughborough Riders in a high-paced, even contest on Saturday.
The home team edged each of the four quarters and with both sides playing at a similar level, the result came down to which team would make the fewest mistakes with the ball.
Hemel’s new head coach Robert Youngblood was unhappy with the result and his team’s performance and especially with how his players seemed to approach the game.
He said: “We took them too lightly.
“They might be a young team, but they were still able to force us into 17 turnovers.
“That’s unacceptable from an experienced squad like ours.”
And Youngblood left no doubt about what has to happen in future games.
“We have to play smarter and harder,” he said. “We were not physical enough – that will definitely change.”
A decisive third-quarter built the Leicestershire team’s lead to 66–60 after they took each of the first two periods by just one point apiece (20–19 and 25–24 respectively) to lead by just two points, 45–43, at half-time.
Storm’s David Ajumobi was impressive once again, scoring from inside and outside the key.
His top score of 22 points included four three-pointers and he led the side in scoring for the third game in a row.
Storm team-mate Courtney Van-Beest came off the bench to add some steel to Hemel’s defence and he also chipped in with mid-range jump shots to finish off some well-worked attacks and tally 16 points.
In the backcourt, Storm’s guard Bode Adeluola proved to be a handful, even for the athletic Loughborough guards.
Adeluola contributed with an imposing six assists to go along with his 13 points.
Youngblood adjusted his line-ups throughout the game to counter Loughborough’s feisty guard play and in the fourth quarter a Hemel run closed the gap to five points.
But two consecutive Loughborough three-pointers gave them the winning ten-point margin.
Loughborough bombarded Storm from long-range, attempting 30 from beyond the arc and hitting on 12 of them.
Hemel team and scorers: David Ajumobi 22, Courtney Van-Beest 16, Bode Adeluola 13, Jack Burnell 9, Wayne Yeboah 9, Chuck Duru 6, Michael Darlow 3, Nick Allin, Lee Greenham, Rhyce Donegal and Walid Mumuni.
On Saturday, the reigning British Basketball League champion Leicester Riders will be at Sportspace for a challenge match against Storm.
It tips-off at 6pm – an hour earlier than the usual starting time for Hemel home games.
This is the last of three challenge matches before the league starts in earnest.
For tickets and further information, visit the website www.stormbasketball.net.