An emphatic second half display by Hemel Storm earned an 85-76 victory over Bradford Dragons and guaranteed them a home tie in the Division One Championship play-offs.
Hemel were missing GB international centre Zak Wells and Michael Darlow through injury, but they maintained their impressive record against the Dragons who are now winless in eight meetings between the two sides.
Storm opened proceedings with a three-pointer by Dru Spinks, before skipper Simon Kearney hit a second.
The Dragons responded well, though, and took a 33-18 lead in at the end of the first period.
Hemel started the second quarter brightly and a couple of Bode Adeluola lay-ups kept Bradford’s lead in single figures, before three-pointers from Walid Mumuni and Kearney meant the hosts went in at half-time leading by just six at 41-35.
A pair of early scores by Mumuni and another three-pointer by Kearney levelled the scores at 42-all early in the third, before two threes by Adeluola put Hemel in front.
With Storm leading by three points going into the final period, it was Rodney Bryn-Hussey’s turn to sink a three-pointer, before two more from Adeluola and Mumini opened a gap between the two teams.
Two free-throws by Tolu Adebekun kept Storm six up with four minutes left – a lead they still held inside the last minute.
Two more successful free-throws – this time by Spinks – and another couple from Kearney, put the game away in Storms’ favour for a vital win.
Hemel head coach Steve Darlow was delighted with his team’s efforts, reserving special praise for his back-up players.
He singled out Adebekun, Matt Hanson and Kenroy Wood who he said all put in some quality minutes off the bench enabling him to rest his starters for the final push.
Storm return to Sportspace on Saturday with their last Division One game of the season against Leeds Carnegie.
For tickets and more information visit www.stormbasketball.net