NBL Under 18s Vs ABC Gwent 15-10-2011

A thrilling game in front of a huge crowd sees Storm left shattered as they fall to an agonising defeat.

Match Report

Dorset Storm (14, 24, 19, 14) 71

ABC Gwent (18, 16, 18, 28) 80

Dorset Storm Under 18s welcomed ABC Gwent to Rossmore Leisure Centre on Saturday for their first home game of the 2011 – 2012 season.  Storm came into the game having played well in their opening two games and were feeling confident ahead of this encounter.  They welcomed back Jack Kelly who had missed the previous week and handed a debut to Jordan Ambrose.

Storm opened the game with David Rudenko, Conor James and Gabriel Gordula in the backcourt whilst Oliver Heath and Seb Darby were in the frontcourt.  Both teams exchanged baskets early on with James and Heath scoring early for the home side.  Good defence in the half court forced tough shots from Gwent and some solid rebounding allowed the visitors only one chance at scoring.  Gwent were the first to break open the game with a 7 – 0 run to go up 5 – 12 on the back of some poor transition defence from Storm.  With a couple of experienced heads checking back in Storm got back on track and despite some poor foul shooting trailed by just 14 – 18 at the end of the opening stanza.

Gwent started the second quarter with much more energy than Storm and a break away dunk gave them a 22 – 14 lead as it looked like they could get away from Storm, who missed several easy chances in and around the basket.  As Darby and Heath continued to get it done for Storm through great rebounding and aggressive moves offensively Storm narrowed the gap.  A charge drawn by Rudenko gave Storm some added incentive, and Mahinay found himself unguarded from deep and nailed back to back threes to bring Storm right back into the ball game.  Two further scores from James and Rudenko saw Storm take a 38 – 34 lead into the half time break.

Storm knew that they would need a much better start to the second half than they got last week against UWIC.  They got just that as scores from James, Rudenko, Darby and Heath extended their lead out to nine by the mid way point.  The only major concern was the four fouls Gordula had managed to accumulate.  Darby continued his excellent work at the defensive end, picking up rebounds and drawing a charge on the break, Jordan Ambrose and Jack Kelly both had good defensive spells, limiting Gwent’s superstars to contested shots.  A couple of sloppy defensive plays towards the end of the quarter saw Gwent keep in touch with Storm, with the scores 57 – 54 in favour of the home side at the third quarter mark.

Both teams opened the final quarter firing from long range, and with four minutes gone the score was 65 – 64.  Storm were keeping themselves in the game with some good defensive pressure and were continuing to rebound the ball well which was key.  Gordula re-entered the game just over half way through the quarter and made an immediate impact, two driving lay-ups extended Storms lead to 71 – 68 with two minutes remaining.  As Gordula picked up his fifth and final foul.  A couple of sloppy possessions from Storm gave Gwent chances to run at them and convert on the break as both teams used timeouts to adjust defensively and move the ball up the court.  Storm executed their out of bounds plays well, but failed to finish in and around the basket.  In a scrappy final 30 seconds, Storm threw the ball away twice and as they chased the game Gwent nailed all eight of their free throws as they closed out the game the stronger of the two teams leaving Storm stunned, as they fell to a 71 – 80 defeat.

It was a great edge of your seat match for the neutral, but lead coach Luke Kemish was understandably unhappy at his teams final quarter performance.

“We shot ourselves in the foot today, we worked so hard for 38 minutes and then poor decisions let us down.  We knew what was coming out of the timeouts and failed to execute and finish well enough.”

Kemish though, was quick to point out that the players are improving and described Gwent as the toughest opponents they have faced this season.

“We should put this into perspective, we concentrated for 30 minutes against Bristol, 36 against UWIC, 38 today against the toughest side we have faced so far.  Perhaps the fact that those two minutes we lost concentration from took the game away from us will provide the focus we need.

To have a game taken from you like that hurts, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us.  The challenge is for the players to pick themselves up, learn from it and work harder than ever so we can carry on with the process and make amends later in the year.”

For Storm there were some outstanding individual performances, including 26 points from Oliver Heath, 14 rebounds for Seb Darby and five and four assists for Conor James and David Rudenko respectively.  Team defence was exceptional too; with some good help defence and rotations forcing Gwent into tough shots and making the game scrappy which, in reality is what Storm want it to be like.

A huge thank you to all the parents, friends and Under 14s who filled up the sports hall, packed in along both the side and end line and cheered on the team throughout the 40 minutes of action.

Storm have a few weekends off now to lick their wounds and prepare for the visit of Plymouth Marjons.  With the four of the five previous encounters being decided by single figures it looks certain to be another thrilling game, well if you’re a neutral at least!

Scorers: *Heath 26, *Rudenko 10, *Darby 9, Mahinay 9, *James 7, Ambrose 6, *Gordula 4, Kelly, Stevenson, Patino, Butler, Message.

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