D1: Derby edge past Warriors in gritty local derby

 

Derby Trailblazers 62 (16, 27, 47)
Leicester Warriors 58 (14, 32, 44)
NBL Men’s Division One
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Leicester -warriors -logoDefense was the order of the day as this East Midlands derby once again proved to a feisty, hard nosed fight between two sides, for whom local pride and determination was very much apparent.

Derby eventually ground they way to a victory, but they had to overcome a couple of scares along the way as Leicester dominated much of the second quarter and then produced another fight back late in the game.

At the heart of that determination for Derby was captain Rema Lascelles. Averaging only 1.6 fouls per game in the league this season, he was lured into giving up all five of his permitted fouls as he fought to prevent the Warriors from scoring in the latter stages.

Aside from that, his performance couldn’t’ be faulted. He produced another stunning stats line of thirteen points, thirteen rebounds and nine assists. Had his time on court not been cut short by just shy of two minutes, he may well have gone on to produce a coveted triple-double.

Josh Ward-Hibbert led the Trailblazers with seventeen points and eleven rebounds, while Adria Amabilino Perez was the only other Derby player to finish in double figures.

For Leicester, American Chris McGrew finished with fourteen points, but was hampered by foul trouble, which saw him sidelined with four infringements early in the second quarter. Former Derby big-man Leome Francis added thirteen; Rodney Saunders eleven and Elhiji Toure Jabby had ten.

The Trailblazers out-rebounded their opponents 56-44 and dished off more assists, but the intensity of Leicester’s defence led Derby into conceding twenty-six turnovers. They also only managed six steals compared to the Warriors fifteen.

Five of those steals went to Chris Taylor, who despite struggling through injury also opened the scoring, with a big three-pointer off the first of Lascelles’ many assists. Francis replied with an offensive put back before Ward-Hibbert sank a pair of free throws. A back-court violation from Carl Pearson then sparked an early time-out from Leicester, who were 5-4 down after two minutes.

Consecutive scores from McGrew put the visitors ahead, although it was short lived as a Taylor steal led to a score for Adria Amabilino Perez. Saunders made it 7-9 to the Warriors, before Ward-Hibbert tied the scores with a massive dunk.

After Leicester missed two opportunities to score, the latter as the result of a block by Lascelles, Coach Karl Brown vented his frustrations and was immediately given a technical foul. Fuming with rage, he called his second time-out despite their being another 4’30” of the first quarter remaining. He used it not to talk to players, but to continue his conversation with the officials.

Lascelles converted the resulting free-throw, but a three-point attempt from the possession failed to drop and Leicester again nudged back in front as Pearson drove inside for two. Derby tied the scores in spectacular style, as Max Morrison connected with an alley-oop pass from Taylor.

Francis then made one of two at the line, before Brian Amabilino Perez ended the first quarter with a triple, to give Derby a 16-14 lead.

Early in the second, a three-pointer from Saunders saw Leicester move 18-19 ahead and apart from a brief tie at 21-all, the Warriors had the upper hand throughout the quarter. They led by as many as eight points at one stage, before taking a 27-32 lead into the locker rooms.

The Blazers needed a response and they found it more or less immediately after the restart. Francis had extended the Warriors lead to seven points, but a 7-0 burst culminating with a triple from Taylor tied the scores at 34-all.

Another 13-4 burst followed, again capped off by a three-pointer, this time from Adria Amabilino Perez. It took Derby to a relatively comfortable looking 47-38 score line, but Warriors fought back again. They trimmed the gap to just three points going into the final quarter and it quickly became 47-46 early in the fourth, after a Blazers turnover was punished by a Francis score.

Three and a half minutes passed before either side troubled the scorers and it was Warriors who did so, as McGrew put Leicester ahead by one. Ward-Hibbert struck back with a triple and although Saunders tied the scores at 50-all with 4’48” remaining, that was the closest Leicester would come to victory.

Back-to-back three-pointers from Lascelles opened up a six point lead and after a Leicester time-out, he added a jump shot for good measure. In the following minute, he gave up his three final fouls to deny the Warriors easy scoring opportunities. Instead, they missed three of four from shots from the line.

It was precisely the kind of stuff local derbies are made from and this one was finished off as Kayne King sank two from two to seal a 62-56 win over their local rivals and taking their unbeaten run to eleven games across all competitions.

“It was a really tough game, physical and scrappy with both teams playing intense defence,” said Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“We wanted to play at a high tempo but struggled to do this for large parts and couldn't get our offence going the way we have in other games, credit to Leicester. But we did an excellent job stifling their rhythm and making it difficult for them too. It was a defensive battle.

“We didn't shoot that well tonight but we hit some big threes at critical times, three-point shooting was probably the difference in the end. A lot of the other numbers are similar.

“We managed to get a couple of big runs going, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth. They were critical. In low scoring games 6-8 point runs become even more important. I was really pleased with the intensity our guys played at, we can play better and have lots of room to improve, but if we play hard we will always have a good chance,” he said.

Derby: Ward-Hibbert 17, Lascelles 13, A. Amabilino Perez 11, Stanley 8, Taylor 6, B. Amabilino Perez 3, King 2, Morrison 2, Elliott-Sewell DNP.

Warriors: McGrew 14, Francis 13, Saunders 11, Jabby 10, Pearson 7, Willan 1, Kelly 0, Lewis 0, Mills 0, M. Paul 0, Osman DNP, G. Paul DNP.

 

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Derby are back in NBL D1 action next Saturday afternoon, when they travel to London Lituanica (5pm), before returning home in time for Sunday’s National Cup Quarter Final against Manchester Magic at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre (4:15pm).


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The weekend results are summarised below:

D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 62 – 56 Leicester Warriors
D4 Men (Mids): Warwickshire Hawks 66 – 80 Derby Trailblazers II
U18 Men (Prem): Derby Trailblazers 79 – 65 Team Birmingham Elite
U18 Men (Mids): Leicester Warriors 84 – 74 Derby Trailblazers