Hemel Storm overcame Worthing Thunder 77-97 in a match marking the first time a team has got within 30-points of the Hertfordshire side in 2024.

Reflecting on a difficult evening, Thunder captain Hafeez Abdul said, “They (Hemel) came to us with a game plan, we had a tough time adjusting to it.”

Abdul, 28, topped the scoring sheet with 24-points. It was four more than next best Veron Eze, who joined Storm following a move from Thunder in the summer.

Newman brilliant as storm pick low hanging fruit: After a first quarter where Thunder managed to keep pace, the side who sit third in NBL Division One stamped their authority in the second.

Both sides traded baskets to start as Tom Ward, Tola Okiki and Daniel Johnson-Thompson kept Storm on their toes.

Midway through the quarter, Storm struck courtesy of Taylor Johnson and Sam Newman.

Newman, who deposed Johde Campbell at the summit of the assist’s rankings, assisted more than he scored enroute to a double-double in assists and points.

The efforts of Ishmael Fontaine, who scored 11-points, and Hafeez Abdul only delayed the visitors’ advance, culminating in a 9-0 run. Eze, Matthew Disu and the 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.

Storm additions give Thunder headache: Such has been the quality of the two sides during the last year, this was the sixth time they have met. In those contests, of which two were finals, Thunder have only been victorious once. They beat Storm 69-65 in a national cup tie in December.

Since the new year, Storm have added Taylor Johnson and Darien Nelson-Henry. Johnson arrives back after claiming most valuable player (MVP) titles in all three major finals last season and Nelson-Henry arrives fresh from captaining the Leicester Riders to the BBL playoff and trophy finals last campaign.

Abdul commented, “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.”

Palmer stars as Thunder keep it respectable: 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 over, collecting all his 10-points in the fourth exclusively. His form buoyed Luke Moore and Ishmael Fontaine as Thunder fought to the end.

Thunder takes on Newcastle University next Sunday, a challenge Abdul is relishing: “We just had them (last week). It will be fun to see what adjustments they’ve made and how they’ll adapt to ours.”

The challenges on home soil don’t let up, Thunder play second placed Derby on 17th February. Tip is 19:30.

Thunder top scorers: Abdul 24, Fontaine 11, Johnson-Thompson 11, Palmer 10, Ward 8.