D1: Big second half performance keeps Derby’s league run intact
Team Solent Kestrels 64 (24, 41, 54)
Derby Trailblazers 84 (19, 33, 61)
NBL Men’s Division One
Derby Trailblazers made it five wins out of five in NBL division one, as they put together a massive second half performance to beat Team Solent Kestrels on the south coast. Derby took the third period 28-13 and the final quarter 24-10 to complete a 52-23 second half routing of the Kestrels.
Josh Ward-Hibbert led all scorers with twenty points, Rema Lascelles added fourteen, Max Morrison had twelve and the Amabilino Perez twins contributed ten points each as the Trailblazers produced a particularly well balanced offensive spread of points.
For Solent, the American pair of Marquis Mathis and Colt Fason had seventeen and twelve points respectively, with the former also gathering a game high ten rebounds.
Awful traffic conditions led to a tortuous journey for the Derby team, who only arrived at the venue around ten minutes before the game should have started. But there was little sign of that affecting them, at least not in the first couple of minutes.
Chris Taylor opened the scoring via an assist from Lascelles and after a response from Stephen Danso, Derby added another seven quick points, via Lascelles, Oli Stanley and Adria Amabilino Perez, who converted from downtown.
However, that early success was short lived, as Solent began to fight their way back into contention. Mathis, Fason and Danso were all on target while Derby had just a solitary triple from Brian Amabilino Perez to show for their efforts, as the home side tied the scores at 12-12 by the fourth minute.
Solent made good use of offensive rebounding as they gradually built a slender lead, emphasised by a Mathis dunk, which put them 24-17 ahead. With just a score from Morrison to follow in the remaining ninety seconds, the Blazers found themselves trailing by five going into the first break.
Both sides missed multiple opportunities early in the second, but by the fourth minute, Solent had extended their lead to ten points, at 32-22. Consecutive scores from Ward-Hibbert pulled it back to six points, before the Kestrels stretched their lead to their biggest of the game, at 41-29.
A single free-throw from Lascelles was all that followed in the remaining 1’44” of the first half, but Derby knew they needed a big second half, if they were to remain unbeaten in the league.
After the break, the Trailblazers looked a completely proposition. Strong defence restricted the Kestrels to just two points in the opening five and a half minutes of the third quarter. That, in turn, sparked Derby’s offense into life and a 17-nil run followed, as they transformed an eleven point deficit into an eight point lead.
An emphatic dunk followed towards the end of the third, with Brian Amabilino Perez the provider. Moments later, his twin brother knocked down a big thee-pointer, taking the score to 51-60. Mathis responded in kind, but that was the American’s only basket of the second half, such was the strength of Derby’s new found defensive prowess.
The Trailblazers lead hovered around the seven to ten points mark throughout much of the final quarter, before they eventually pulled away over the final four minutes.
A second triple from Adria Amabilino Perez sparked the run, before Lascelles, Kayne King and Morrison all held their nerve to add bonus points from the line over the closing couple of minutes.
“I thought our performance on Saturday was absolutely top class,” exclaimed the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“We started slowly, but after the horrendous six hour journey we had to get there, that wasn't really a massive surprise. However, in the second half, our defence was just sensational; it ignited our offence and it produced some of the best basketball we've played this season.
“We did a great job on their American [Mathis] after the break, restricting him to just three points and they didn't get as many offensive rebounds either. At the other end, we attacked early, played unselfishly and had great spacing.
“When everyone touches the ball and is involved like they were on Saturday, our offence looks superb and I think it was at its best in the second half of that game,” he said.
Solent: Mathis 17, Fason 12, Kirkman 11, Zagarov 8, Danso 7, Raftopoulos 5, Nicholls 2, Scarlett 2, Riabi DNP, Van Oostrum DNP.
Derby: Ward-Hibbert 20, Lascelles 14, Morrison 12, A. Amabilino Perez 10, B. Amabilino Perez 10, Stanley 8, Taylor 8, King 2.
Derby have just one game next weekend, as they welcome Essex Leopards to the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre (7:15pm) in National League Division One.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Saturday’s results are summarised below:
D1 Men: Team Solent Kestrels 64 – 84 Derby Trailblazers
U18 Men (Prem): Derby Trailblazers 79 – 66 Myerscough College Spinners
U18 Men (Mids): Leicester Warriors v Derby Trailblazers II – match postponed
U14 Boys (M1): Derby Trailblazers 53 – 68 Derby Trailblazers
Game photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derbytrailblazersbasketball/albums