NBL Under 18s Vs Gloucester Blazers – 08-01-2011

Match Report

Dorset Storm (12, 13, 15, 21) 63
Gloucester Blazers (16, 11, 9, 4) 40

Dorset Storms Under 18s opened 2011 with a home match versus Gloucester Blazers at Rossmore Leisure Centre. It was Storms first league match for over a month, but following last weeks training Storm would have expected to shake off any rustiness that they still had in their system. Storm had a full squad to select from for this encounter and both Stephen Mahinay and David Rudenko were included having been overlooked for the last action of 2010.

Storm opened with Seb Darby and Gabriel Gordula in the front court, whilst Oliver Heath, Conor James and David Rudenko were in the back court. Storm opened the game, with a couple of decent possessions, Gordula getting to the line early and James nailing an open jumper from the baseline. Defensively for once, Storm were poor, on far too many occasions they were behind cutters and this was clearly evident as their opponents scored their opening eight points from inside the key. A timeout called by Gloucester with seven minutes gone should have provided Storm with an opportunity to build on a 9 – 8 lead, but instead they continued to allow their opponents to get to the basket. This was compounded by a 3/19 shooting display at the offensive end. Storm trailed 12 – 16 at the end of the first quarter.

Storm opened the second quarter better, a strong drive from Heath to earn two fouls shots. Rudenko’s outstanding effort in and around the basket kept the ball alive for Readhead to convert and Storm tied the game at 16. Four in a row from the visitors allowed them to take the lead back and coach Kemish had seen enough, and called a timeout. Storm came back with more aggression, Heath and James both scored. Despite this Storm could not get a grip on the game, as their opponents continued to grind it out getting the shots that they wanted and playing at a tempo that suited them. Storm found themselves heading into the half time break trailing 25 – 27, and the home crowd in a mood for blood.

Coach Kemish said all that he wanted to in the changing room at the break and the players came back onto the floor in a subdued mood. Storm found it hard over the first couple of minutes to up their intensity to the level that they wanted too, but an early steal from James and a charge drawn by Rudenko gave the home side something to feel good about again. Strong finishing from Heath on the drive saw Storm regain the lead at 29 – 28. Rudneko continued to set the tone at the defensive end of the court with back to back steals and Storm then converted the other end through good ball movement and aggressively attacking the basket to rack up some more points, eventually resulting in a Gloucester timeout. Just two minutes later, two triples from Mahinay resulted in a second Gloucester timeout. Storm though, would not be slowed as they continued to play better defence, continuously putting the Gloucester guards under pressure. By the end of the quarter Storm had regained the lead, holding a six point advantage 42 – 36.

Storm headed into the final quarter in much more confident mood. Defensive intensity had been the key and with all five players working much better together at both ends of the court Storm extended their lead. By now Gordula had started to find his rhythm again, mainly through some good work at the defensive end of the court. He was joined by some good play from Craig Wren and Suthep Craig. Gloucester called their final timeout early in the fourth quarter. The timeout did not have the desired effect for the visitors as Darby, Rudenko and Readhead all kept the momentum going for Storm with some good defensive work. At the offensive end Storm began to flow freely for the first time in the match, as they stretched Gloucester’s defence with good ball and player movement before exploiting the holes that were created. Some good defence from Matthew Lawson and a nice pass inside to Readhead from George Williams ensured a good finish for Storm who wrapped up the game with a final score 63 – 40.

It was a game of two halves for the home side. A really poor first half didn’t cost the team in the end as some good second half defence and more patient offence saw Storm approach something near the level they were at before the Christmas and New Year break. Coach Kemish could be pleased with the outcome:

“The second half was really good, we upped our energy levels at the defensive end of the court and that was a key.� This gave us more confidence to remain focused at the offensive end and as a result we started to move the ball and ourselves more to get better looks at the basket.

The challenge is to match the level of performance from the second half and to build on it at training this week, to be ready for next weeks trip to Wiltshire.”

For Storm Conor James was at his best throughout, being one of the few plus points for Storm during a poor first half as he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Seb Darby (six rebounds and two steals) and Karl Readhead (nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks) both helped the team maintain the energy at the defensive end in the second half. Oliver Heath led all Storm scores with 16 points. However, the amount of determination that the players showed in coming out and playing hard basketball after a first half in which they were poor shows the character of the team and the togetherness of the players, something that they must be congratulated on. Indeed, teams with out that bond and spirit would have failed to recover in the way that the team did in this game.

Storm have just one week to prepare for next weeks match against Wiltshire Wolves and will be keen to build on this weeks second half performance.

Scorers: *Heath 16, Mahinay 12, *James 10, Readhead 9, *Rudenko 6, *Gordula 5, *Darby 3, Craig 2, Lawson, Wren and Williams.

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