Hemel Storm made it three wins out of three to start the fledgling season after crushing newly-promoted Westminster Warriors by 24 points, 118-94, at home on Saturday.
The Warriors were promoted to National Basketball League Division One last term after finishing as runners-up in Division Two, with the club spending just a single season outside the top flight.
And Storm were just too strong at Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre in front of nearly 500 fans at the weekend, despite playing without the injured Ollie Dykes.
The hosts started with an impressive defensive effort, limiting the visitors to only 12 points in the first ten minutes.
Storm’s new American guard Mike Williams, who was making his debut for the club after receiving international visa clearance, started in style as he poured in 25 points in just 17 minutes of game action.
Williams’ scoring contribution came at a remarkably efficient rate, with the former Rutgers University product shooting at a 67 per cent clip.
The Brooklyn man also added four assists and was one of seven Storm players to finish in double figures in scoring.
Storm head coach Dru Spinks’ charges never looked back after surging into a 29-12 first-period lead.
That margin grew to 24 points, 65-41, by half-time , before any hopes of a comeback were ended with a strong 30-25 third quarter.
Storm’s 7ft centre Lee Hodges added three assists to his 23-point, 14-rebound double-double display and the big man shot a perfect 100 per cent rate from the floor – a rare statistic indeed.
Storm’s Sam Newman and Jack Burnell each finished with 14 points, the former chipping in with four assists.
Hemel guard Bode Adeluola had five assists to go along with his 13 points, while Storm’s other American import Greg Poleon had a ten-point, 17-rebound double-double.
Will Ashby added 12 points for Storm, while Justin Hitchman had a big night for Westminster with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Warriors’ player/coach Jon Johnson dropped 19 points and team-mate Nathan Ashby added 18, both players pulling down five rebounds.
It was a successful night all round for Hemel, with a dominant rebounding performance seeing the hosts grab 20 more boards than their opponents.
And they shot at a season-high 56 per cent rate from the field, including 40 per cent from three-point land.
The only concern for Storm was giving up 94 points after just 12 conceded in the first quarter and missing six of their free throws.
Storm moved to 3-0 in the league and 2-0 at home.
Although it’s still early days for the Division One table, Spinks and the Storm fans will still be pleased to see Hemel sitting joint-top of the pile with Solent Kestrels.
However, they face a stern challenge in the coming weeks where they will have to show their mettle on the road.
This Saturday they travel to Derby Trailblazers, who are 2-1 and have proved to be a tough assignment in recent seasons.
Next Sunday, October 27, they travel to Essex & Herts Leopards, followed by a tough away double-header on November 2-3 against Thames Valley Cavaliers in the league and as-yet unnamed foe in the National Cup third round.
Storm’s next home clash isn’t until Saturday, November 9, when Loughborough Riders come to town.