NBL GAME REPORT: TRAILBLAZERS CLOSE 2015 WITH BACK TO BACK WINS

TRAILBLAZERS SNATCH LAST GASP VICTORY OVER WORTHING 

Derby Trailblazers left it extremely late to secure their eighth win of the NBL Division One league season, much to the delight of another noisy home crowd at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall. They were behind for over thirty-three of the game’s forty minutes and aside a brief moment in the third quarter, they were trailing for over thirty-five minutes.

They eventually took the lead after David TinTin Watts converted a rare four-point play, following a foul by James Cambronne. He not only stroked home his three-point attempt, but also converted the bonus to put Derby 81-80 ahead, with 5’20” left.

Brian Amabilino Perez then produced another of the plays of the game, rising high to swat away an attempt from Josh Brown. However, he was then called for a foul on shooting guard Tom Ward, who tied the game with 1/2 at the line.

A Dan Watts dunk then put Derby 83-81 ahead and the lead was stretched to four points when Oli Stanley bagged an offensive rebound and slotted the ball through the hoop. Brendan Okoronkwo then cut the gap to one with a three-point play, before Stanley produce another strong baseline move for an 87-84 lead.    

Worthing must subsequently have thought they had the game in the bag when Louis Allen converted back to back triples to lead 90-87 with 1’20” left, but a pair of free throws from Brian Amabilino Perez were followed up by a missed attempt from Ward and another big three-pointer from David Watts. That gave Derby a 92-90 advantage with just forty-two seconds left.

The visitors called a time-out, after which a quick offense saw Okoronkwo tie the scores at 92-all, before both sides missed chances to go ahead.

Then, with twenty seconds on the clock, Sydney Donaldson missed a lay-up. However, refusing to be beaten, he dramatically grabbed his own rebound and scored what provided to be the decisive basket from the other side.

Worthing called a final time-out with 12 seconds remaining and there was little surprise that they chose the influential Ward to take the final shot. However, Derby’s defensive was tenacious, denying him the chance to either force overtime, or worse still, win the game. His shot fell well short and Dan Watts grabbed a crucial defensive rebound, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“It was a huge win for us on Saturday night, particularly as we didn’t have a strong first half and had to battle hard to get the win,” said Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“At half time we refocused our defensive effort and principles, resulting in us playing much better defense. Down the stretch we were able to get some big stops and also made some big plays on offense, which has been a pattern for us through out the season.

“I’m sure the fans are getting used to close games, because it seems like every game we play goes down to the wire, but I guess that’s great for the spectators,” he said.

David TinTin Watts led Derby with 24 points and twelve rebounds, Oli Stanley added eighteen points and eight rebounds, while Dan Watts dished off an incredible fifteen assists to go with his sixteen points and seven rebounds.

For Worthing, Ward top scored with 29 points, while Cambronne added nineteen and Okoronkwo had eighteen. Half of those points came in the first quarter, before Derby adjusted their defence to limit his effectiveness.

Thunder had dominated the early parts of the game, racing to a 7-nil start and extending their lead to 18-10 and subsequently 25-14, as a Derby time-out did little to halt their progress. However, the Trailblazers then produced a 7-nil burst to close the first quarter 25-21 in arrears.

Five straight points from Brian Amabilino Perez helped cut the gap to a single point early in the second, but a 10-2 run left the Trailblazers reeling and needing another time-out to try and refocus their efforts. However, Worthing took a 51-41 lead into the half time break and looked odds on to cause an upset.

Much improved defence in the third quarter saw Derby gradually whittling away at the deficit, despite having both Donaldson and Kayne King in foul trouble. However, Dan Watts took over and did a great job distributing the ball.

A 21-10 start to the third quarter was capped off with a basket from Brian Amabilino Perez, courtesy of a Donaldson assist, as the Trailblazers briefly moved 62-61 ahead.

It proved to be a lead they couldn’t maintain though, as Worthing took a 70-66 lead into the final period. A triple from Ward at the start of the fourth saw them move seven points clear, before Dan Watts scored from both inside and out, either side of a Cambronne turnover.

The drama continued as Ward then struck again from downtown. Oli Stanley replied with an inside jumper, before fouling Joe McClaren, who made 2/2 at the line to make it 78-73 to the visitors.

Consecutive scores from Dan Watts and Donaldson then took Derby to within a single point, before Cambronne dunked the ball to make it 80-77 with five and half minutes remaining.

That was the cue for David Watts’ sensational four-point play from which Derby launched the 17-12 run that secured their eighth league win of the season, to the delight of the home fans.

Derby: David Watts 24, Stanley 18, Dan Watts 16, Donaldson 12, B. Amabilino Perez 11, Harwood 4, King 4, A. Amabilino Perez 3, Nelson 2, Calvey 0, Wesselingh 0, Salih DNP.

Thunder: Ward 29, Cambronne 19, Okoronkwo 18, Allen 9, Brown 7, Barbary 5, Sunderland 3, McClaren 2, Marshall 0.

 

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TRAILBLAZERS CLOSE 2015 WITH HUGE WIN OVER TEES VALLEY MOHAWKS

Derby Trailblazers rounded off 2015 with a crushing 101-64 home over Tees Valley Mohawks that once again consolidated their hold over second place in NBL division one.

With Reading Rockets losing twice over the weekend, only Derby (9-1) and leaders Manchester (10-1) remain with just one defeat, while London Lituanica sit a game back on two losses, ahead of Reading, Northumbria and Hemel, all of whom have three defeats.

This was thoroughly professional performance from the Trailblazers, whose exemplary teamwork was illustrated by an astonishing thirty-six assists; three times the total Mohawks could muster.

Kayne King was the deftest distributor of the ball on the day, finishing with nine assists. Dan Watts added seven, Adria Amabilino Perez a further six and Sydney Donaldson five. As for scoring, Derby had five players in double digits, led by David TinTin Watts (21), Donaldson (20) and Oli Stanley (12).

American guard Scotty Hendricks led Tees Valley with twenty-one, although the bulk of his points came in the final five minutes when Derby had eased off their defensive pressure. Former Trailblazers forward Joel Madourie was the Mohawks only other player in double figures, with twelve points on a dreadful night for the visitors.

Head Coach Matt Shaw was delighted with the result:

“I thought we were simply outstanding from start to finish on Sunday. It was certainly the best we’ve played in the league this season and everyone on the team contributed well. The way we moved the ball was a pleasure to watch and we continued to do that throughout the game.

“To be 9-1 at Christmas is a great achievement for our young team but it’s important we don’t get carried away. We have a lot of tough games in January so we’ve got to keep working hard. Having said that, it was great to be able to bounce back from last week’s defeat against Lancashire in the manner we did this weekend,” he said.

When the two teams met in the Men’s Trophy on the opening day of the season, only seven points separated the two sides, as Derby won 80-73.

Both teams had subsequently strengthened their rosters and with Tees Valley having recorded their first league win over the reigning D1 champions Essex Leopards the previous weekend you could have been forgiven for expecting another battle.

However, the truth is, Tees Valley were never at the races. Derby led for all but ten seconds of the match, those being the brief point where Mohawks had tied the scores at 4-4. Sydney Donaldson then added back-to-back scores before Joel Madourie made it 8-6, but then the floodgates opened.

The Trailblazers went on an 11-0 burst, with Donaldson adding a further four points to reach the ten-point mark by the fifth minute. There were also baskets for Mitch Nelson and TinTin Watts, along with a three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez.

Mohawks called an early time-out and halted the run through Madourie, but eight more points from TinTin including a pair of huge threes helped Derby take a 30-15 lead into the first break.

Tees Valley matched the Trailblazers for the first couple of minutes of the second, before the onslaught continued. Derby produced another 19-10 run up to the interval, the highlight of which was a half-time buzzer beating three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez, which made it 58-32.

The Trailblazers continued their rampant form in the third, taking the period 19-6 to lead 77-38, but their biggest lead came early in the fourth. A 15-nil burst, which straddled the third and fourth quarters and included triples for Nelson, Brian Amabilino Perez and Jake Wesselingh stretched Derby’s advantage to 85-38 with left to play.

The Trailblazers rested their senior players for the majority the time remaining, providing the chance to experiment a little, with some pleasing results:

“We were able to look at some different line-ups, especially with Dan and/or Tin off the floor which is a something we must continue to improve on. Despite having a very small line-up at times and a very young line-up at others, I thought our guys were terrific on the glass and it helped cap off an excellent afternoon,” enthused Performance Analyst Michael Hanson-Morris.

The Mohawks managed to trim the deficit in the final few minutes, particularly as Hendricks finally found his range from outside the arc. Fifteen of his points came in the last quarter, including a trio of threes in the final five minutes.

In the end, it fell to Wesselingh to get Derby past the 100 points barrier for the third time this season and he did it in considerable style, with a sweetly swished three-pointer from the far side of the court. There was still time for a consolation basket from Sean Nicholson, but it counted for nothing as the Trailblazers ended 2015 on a high.

Derby now break for the Christmas and New Year period, returning to action on Saturday January 9th with a trip to Manchester Magic in NBL division one. They then welcome Sheffield Sharks to the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall on Sunday January 10th, as the Trailblazers make their first ever invitational appearance in the BBL Trophy.

Derby: David Watts 21, Donaldson 20, Stanley 12, B. Amabilino Perez 11, Nelson 10, A. Amabilino Perez 9, Salih 7, Wesselingh 6, Dan Watts 3, King 2.

Mohawks: Hendricks 21, Madourie 12, Moore 9, Anyigbo 7, Nelson 5, Donaldson 4, Nicholson 4, Attah 2, Samuels 0.

Credit to Nigel Cash

Photography by Alan Mousley