The Nottingham McDonald’s Hood hit the game winner with just 3 seconds left to play, to clinch a nail-biting game at Hemel Storm and clinch a vital away win, 80-82.
A guard of honour from the Chiefs Special Olympics Basketball Club, provided a fitting start to a cracking game that stayed close throughout.
A slow start from both teams as they tested each other was finally broken at 8.42 with a Slavik lay-up, but easy chance were being missed by both teams. Welle and Slavik paced the Hoods early on and a Maher jump-shot with 16 seconds remaining ensured a tight 1st quarter finished 15-15.
Maher hit the 1st 3-pointer of the game to start the 2nd quarter as he and Ballentine provided a much needed spark after the break. More missed opportunities on the offensive end saw Storm go on a 10-0 run, led by ex-Hoods player Leome Francis, who was taking control of the paint. Hoods then responded through Mitchell and Brownell, before a well-timed 3 from Welle brought the scores back to 38-37 with just under a minute remaining in the half. A couple of quick baskets from Hemel were answered with a lay-up on the buzzer by Welle and an enthralling game had reached half-time, with the Hoods trailing, 43-39.
A 3 from Storm to start the 3rd was answered immediately by a 3 from Welle as the Hoods came out roaring after halftime. Wright was being a nuisance on defence, forcing turnovers and Mitchell found his stroke from outside as the Hoods went on a 0-12 run to take a 5-point lead. Storm weren’t done though as the game slowed down with a flurry of calls putting the hosts on the line and keeping the Hoods in check. The quarter continued to ebb and flow as every run by Hoods was answered by a run from Storm and the 3rd finished with the Hoods sneaking ahead, 62-64.
A Maher 3 started the 4th quarter, but this time it was Storm who responded immediately to go on a 9-0 run and regain the lead. The teams then traded baskets, with the Hoods being led by Mitchell, Powell and Welle, with Maher and Slavik providing support on the defensive end, but Storm kept their lead until 2 minutes remained in the game and a Powell lay-up followed two Mitchell free-throws and the Hoods had the lead. A crazy minute and a half then followed as another Powell lay-up pushed the lead to 3, forcing Storm into a time-out.
Missed shots from both teams, a block and a massive 3 from Storm with just 6 seconds remaining looked to have sent the game into overtime, but quick thinking from the Hoods and an ice-cold jump shot from Powell gave Hoods a 2-point lead with 3 seconds remaining as they took an important road win, 80-82.
Aaron Maher, who provided a real spark off the bench with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals said, “Really happy with the resilience and toughness we showed to close out a well fought contest down the stretch. A balanced scoring effort allowed us to secure an important win to get us over the .500 mark.”
Coach Westley added, “Wins like this show how tough we can be. Holding our nerve in front of a great crowd and in the face of difficult circumstances, we are just glimpsing our potential. Hemel have been a quality outfit for a long time, and I have known a lot of them for many years. It was also great to meet some of the Special Olympics Basketball Club. It’s a great advert for British Basketball.”
Hoods are back in home action next Saturday, as they take on Reading Rockets at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena, with a 7.30pm start.
Welle – 21 points – 17 rebounds – 2 steals – 5 blocks (equaled club record)
Mitchell – 15 points – 3 rebounds – 2 assists
Powell – 15 points – 4 rebounds – 2 assists
Maher – 10 points – 4 rebounds – 2 steals
Ballentine – 7 points – 5 rebounds – 1 assist
Slavik – 7 points – 6 rebounds – 1 block
Watts – 3 points – 2 rebounds – 1 assist
James – 2 points – 1 rebound – 1 assist – 1 steal
Brownell – 2 points – 1 assist – 2 steals
Wright – 1 rebound – 3 assists – 1 steal