Hemel Storm hung on to beat a feisty Leicester Warriors team 91-87 at Sportspace on Saturday evening despite almost throwing away a hard-earned 20-point lead.
It was a cagey start to the game by both sides, with Trilogy-it sponsored Hemel holding a slim two-point lead after four minutes at 12-10.
A three-pointer by Carl Josey and another by star guard Bode Adeluola – his second of the game – allowed the home side to open the lead out to 20-12 in the middle of their best period of the game.
Points were raining into the Leicester basket as Storm caught fire with yet more triples by Walid Mumuni and youngster Nick Allin. At the end of the first quarter, Hemel had a 12-point lead at 30-18.
Another three, this time by skipper Simon Kearney after three minutes of the second period, extended the lead to 16, which within two more minutes had ballooned out to 20 at 43-23.
Leicester started their long fight-back soon afterwards and had trimmed the Hemel lead back to 45-31 with two minutes left in the half.
But a lay-up under the basket by Storm’s eventual top-scorer Tom Adorian in the final second meant the home team went into the dressing room with a 17-point lead at 50-33.
There was not much sign of the Warriors mounting a massive fight-back as the third quarter got under way, with both teams struggling to put points on the board during a very scrappy first few minutes.
However, the Hemel lead was cut to 14 points at 55-41 after five minutes, and dipped below 10 points two minutes later as Hemel continued to struggle to break down Warriors’ zone defence.
Despite this, a Darren Best triple right on the buzzer meant Hemel had got the lead back into double figures after three periods at 71-60.
When another three-pointer from Josey went in, a few minutes into the final quarter, the lead went briefly out to 12 but had dropped back to just seven by halfway through.
Walid Mumuni crashed to the floor injured under the Warriors basket with three minutes left, and Storm’s lead was down to just three points, but a massive triple by Kearney doubled that a minute later.
Best hit another long range jump shot and, when Adeluola added a free-throw to a lay-up with under a minute remaining, Storm’s six-point lead seemed to be comfortable enough.
Leicester just would not go quietly, though, and it was only when Michael Darlow grabbed a big rebound with four seconds left that the home team could start their celebrations.
After the game, a relieved Storm head coach Steve Darlow said: “Our defence in the second half was poor – we gave up 55 points which is not typical for us.”
Hemel Storm’s last home game of the season is at Sportspace on Saturday, April 4 at 7pm against Kent Crusaders in a National League Division One contest.
Tickets and more information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net