Worthing Thunder can’t quite weather the Hemel storm

Hemel Storm overcame Worthing Thunder 97-77 – but it was the first time a team has got within 30 points of the Hertfordshire side in 2024.
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Thunder captain Hafeez Abdul, top scorer on the night with 24 points, said: “They came to us with a game plan, we had a tough time adjusting to it.”

After a first quarter where Thunder kept pace, the side who sit third in NBL Division 1 stamped their authority in the second.

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Both sides traded baskets to start as Tom Ward, Tola Okiki and Daniel Johnson-Thompson kept Storm on their toes. Storm struck courtesy of Taylor Johnson and Sam Newman.

WorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary RobinsonWorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary Robinson
WorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary Robinson

The efforts of Ishmael Fontaine, who scored 11 points, and Abdul only delayed the visitors’ advance, culminating in a 9-0 run. Eze, Matthew Disu and highest-ranked scorer Hakeem Sylla all punished Thunder to grow the lead to 23 points by the interval.

Storm achieved their lead, and victory, by picking at the lowest hanging fruit. Thunder shipped 68 points under their basket as Newman relentlessly found Sylla and Darien Nelson-Henry.

Since the new year, Storm have added quality duo Taylor Johnson and Darien Nelson-Henry.

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Abdul said: “They had class players, new additions that you couldn’t really scout for. It was very tough to get used to that during a 40-minute game.”

WorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary RobinsonWorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary Robinson
WorthingThunder take on Hemel Storm | Picture: Gary Robinson

Though the competitive contest had ceased, the last quarter gave two of the noisiest crowds in English Basketball something to shout about.

Thunder won the last quarter by 11 points on an evening which could’ve become embarrassing. They were down by 34 during the third quarter.

Daniel Johnson-Thompson, who achieved a double-double in points and rebounds, combined with Tyler Fairbairn and Tola Okiki to contribute to an open beginning of the fourth. Joshua Palmer took all his 10 points in the fourth. His form buoyed Luke Moore and Ishmael Fontaine as Thunder fought on.

Thunder visit Newcastle Uni on Sunday and host second-placed Derby on February 17.