Hemel Storm coach Robert Youngblood said his side had let the fans down after complacency cost them National Championship Play-Offs qualification.
The National League Division One basketball team were grinding all month to give themselves a shot at qualifying for the prestigious play-offs, but couldn’t make the most of the opportunity when it arose.
Storm looked the real deal as they led Nottingham Hoods from tip to buzzer in a convincing 77-61 away win on March 12.
With just five games left to play, Storm had a double fixture the following weekend which summed up the up-and-down nature of the month as a whole. The Hemel Hempstead-based side put on a poor shooting performance against Loughborough Riders in the first match, losing 62-104, before bouncing back against Reading Rockets the next day to win 121-116 to keep play-off hopes alive.
Another rollercoaster of a weekend followed as Storm overcame Manchester Magic, winning 92-74 against the league’s lowest side, before losing to Loughborough Riders for the second time in two weeks.
There was still hope for Hemel to reach the play-offs, which would be for the fifth time since winning promotion to the top flight – but they had to beat the impressive Derby Trailblazers on Saturday, March 30 to do it.
Storm started strong on the occasion at a packed Hemel Hempstead Community Centre, leading by a huge 20 points in the opening half of the encounter. But the team turned off in the second half and allowed Derby back into the game, eventually losing 89-99 and surrendering the all-important eighth place in the table.
“After a great first half we played down to the competition,” said a depleted Robert Youngblood.
“I’m very disappointed for everyone involved with Storm and especially the fans. We let a lot of people down – ourselves included. I’m absolutely gutted.”
Picture courtesy of Hemel Storm