It was almost expected that this matchup between the Hemel Storm and the Solent Kestrels would be an exciting one, in a weekend in which practically every game either came down to the wire or just had a lot of exciting moments throughout.
Solent were looking to complete their season treble having already claimed the Regular Season D1 title and the National Cup title, whilst Hemel looked to come up with an upset.
The Storm struggled to score throughout the first half but were saved by the buckets of Taylor Johnson who at one point, had 13 out of Hemel's 15 total points. For Solent, their scoring was a lot more balanced as everybody was able to get on the stat sheet. In spite of that, the lead never ballooned to an amount that we're all very much used to seeing Solent create; Hemel kept within touching distance throughout the first half, with the score being 41-33 in favour of the Kestrels.
The second half saw Hemel really bring the heat. They were able to tie the game once at 57, then again at 60. Then with the game tied at 69, the NBL D1 MVP, American guard Cole Gentry scored what would be the game-winning layup to give Solent the title and complete the season treble.
He would also end up winning game MVP as he finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Gentry spoke on how his side were able to re-focus and prepare for this game as well as continuing to stay motivated with a winning side:
An unbelievable weekend of basketball and another great advert for the sport. For those who think that basketball in this country isn't entertaining or the standard isn't high or that the crowds aren't active enough, this weekend was a small insight into what basketball already is and if days like this are built upon correctly, what the game and the culture could grow to be.
Photo credit: Luke Simcock