Hemel Storm got their season off to a winning start after a hard-fought 72-60 victory on the road against Leicester Warriors in a National Trophy pool game on Saturday.
In a defence-dominated and at times scrappy clash, Storm used a second-quarter 21-9 blitz to recover from a lack-lustre start that saw the home team ahead 14-10 after the first period.
A dramatic reduction in Hemel’s turnovers in the second-half and some standout performances from new signings David Ajumobi and Courtney Van-Beest along with Mike Darlow and veteran Walid Mumuni, were the keys to the triumph.
Storm’s new head coach Robert Youngblood juggled his line-ups late in the game to keep his players fresh and in a bid to stop Leicester’s ability to break down his team’s defence.
Mumuni in particular fought hard in the trenches and with Hemel ahead by six points with just five minutes remaining, his intense defence was able to rally the troops to eventually build a 12-point margin by the end.
Coach Youngblood said afterwards: “We made some adjustments and came through a stern test. The performance gives us something to build on.
“We’ll have to cut down on the unforced errors as the season progresses but we showed some mental toughness and versatility that will stand us in good stead.”
Hemel are in a three-team regional pool in the National Trophy with Leicester Warriors and Loughborough Riders.
The top team in each of the four pools qualifies for the semi-final stages.
Storm will face Loughborough away on Saturday, September 30, in their next match-up in this competition.
Team and scorers: David Ajumobi 19, Courtney Van Beest 11, Michael Darlow 10, Wayne Yeboah 9, Lee Greenan 7, Bode Adeluola 7, Tom Adorian 6, Walid Mumuni 2, Jack Burnell 1, Chuck Duru and Nick Allin.
Storm are coming back home to Sportspace this Saturday for a friendly against National League side London Greenhouse Pioneers (7pm).
It follows the late withdrawal from Division One of London Lituanica, who were Hemel’s initial opponents in the league season opener.
It means their first league encounter will now be on Saturday, October 14, at Reading Rockets.
For tickets and other information, see website www.stormbasketball.net.