HEMEL Storm shook off their injury worries and produced two hard-fought wins at the weekend to remain undefeated this season.
After a high octane offensive game in London on Saturday, Storm relied on an outstanding defensive effort in Leicester on Sunday to defeat Division One side Leicester Warriors 79-71 and book a place in the quarter-finals of the National Cup.
“It’s great to knock-off Division One opposition,” said delighted Hemel head coach Dave Titmuss.
“It was a statement win for us and recognises the progress we’re making at Hemel and the programme that we’re building.
“The guys had to dig really deep to come out with the win – we absorbed Leicester’s run in the third quarter, handled their press with real poise and made big plays at both ends of the court when they were needed.”
Storm were without 6ft 8ins centre Lee McCarthy who injured his back in Saturday’s win against London Eastside, and although the influential Drew Spinks played in the game he was clearly restricted by the foot injury sustained in pre-season.
The teams traded baskets in the first quarter but Storm’s uncompromising defensive play signalled their intention to compete and they edged ahead 21-17 when James Dawes finished off a fast break with a jump-shot just before the buzzer.
And Storm were able to open a 10-point half-time lead at 41-31 on the back of some inspired inside play by the impressive Tom Frederick.
Top-scorer Andy Harper’s accurate perimeter shots included a three-pointer on the last possession of the half.
Leicester turned-up their own defensive pressure in the third quarter, though, and in a battling display they chipped five points off the visitors’ lead.
But Storm regained control in the final stanza and, despite Frederick fouling out with four minutes to play, they extended their lead to seven when Harper netted another crucial three-pointer to halt Leicester’s charge.
On Saturday, meanwhile, a convincing 29-18 lead after the first quarter against London’s Eastside Eagles helped Storm to record their second National League win of the season.
“Despite trying to have a one game at a time mentality I definitely think we played on Saturday with the next day’s game against Leicester on our minds,” said Titmuss.
Led by their irrepressible guard Bode Adeluola, Storm eventually triumphed 103-86.
Next up for Storm is a National League clash against Birmingham A as Sportspace on Saturday.
The Hemel club’s U18 team, meanwhile, recorded another resounding win on Saturday, thrashing Bedford Bulls 95-59