Hemel Storm 69 Team Northumbria 61
Hemel Storm put in a superb defensive effort to defeat Team Northumbria – the number two team in the country – in an enthralling duel at Sportspace on Saturday.
A big crowd roared Hemel to victory in a physical, possession by possession National League Division One battle.
No more than eight points separated the teams throughout the game and in the closing minutes four different Hemel players – Louis Sayers, Williamz Omope, Simon Kearney and TomAdorian – held their nerve to sink seven out of eight crucial free-throws and seal the victory.
Storm, who were without their influential starting five forward Drew Spinks because of a serious calf injury, consistently switched their defences to maintain control of the visitors but had to work extremely hard in attack to find shooting opportunities.
Former GB U20 international Sayers and forward Omope finished as joint-top scorers with 17 apiece including four three-pointers.
The opening quarter finished 12-10 to Hemel as Omope drove to the basket and scored just before the buzzer sounded.
And the home team were able to restrict Northumbria’s offence to just 11 second quarter points and take a 29-21 lead into the changing room at half-time.
Northumbria hit back early in the third quarter and found gaps in Hemel’s defence to take a momentary 41-37 lead, but a Sayers jump-shot put Storm back in front 48-47 at the end of the period.
A timely three-pointer by Omope early in the fourth quarter put light between the teams and sparked an 11-6 run, before Hemel captain Kearney brought the crowd to its feet with a three-pointer from deep in the corner to put Storm 62-55 ahead. It proved to be a lead they maintained to the final buzzer.
“It was a huge win for us,” said Hemel’s director of coaching Dave Titmuss. “We have an all-English team and were playing a squad with three imports – two American and one French – and a league top-three contender.
“Although it was low scoring, the crowd seemed to appreciate the defensive effort that we showed - that was the key to winning.”