Hemel Storm 84
Essex Leopards 92
Hemel Storm were narrowly beaten by Essex Leopards in their National Trophy semi-final clash in front of a capacity crowd at Sportspace on Saturday.
The crowd erupted when Hemel fought back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter by hitting four consecutive three-point shots to trail 80-77 with less than two minutes to play.
But two crucial ball-handling mistakes handed extra possession to the visitors and they took full advantage to seal the win.
Storm – who were without top scorer Drew Spinks through injury – had fallen behind early in the game and were always fighting to get on terms as they struggled to contain Leopards’ two American imports Gregg Hernandez and Simon Cummings
But in the explosive fourth quarter Storm’s full court pressing defence and stunning three point shooting from Williamz Omope and top-scorer Louis Sayers was nearly enough to cause a major upset.
Hemel Head Coach Mark Lloyd said: “It’s frustrating because we know that as an all-English team we’re not competing on a level playing field against teams with imports and yet we had our chance to win.
Storm are back in action at Sportspace on Saturday when they take on Division One’s second placed team Northumbria, tip-off 7pm. Tickets are available at www.stormbasketball.net