D1: Derby let lead slip as regular season ends with defeat to Loughborough 25/03/17


Derby Trailblazers 73 (26, 39, 62)
Loughborough S.R. 84 (16, 42, 62)
NBL Men’s Division One

Seven days ago, the crowd at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre was treated to one of Derby’s best performances of the season, as they comfortably beat Manchester Magic. But just one week later, the Trailblazers performance at home to Loughborough Student Riders was probably one of their worst.

The 73-84 home defeat to Loughborough Student Riders was precisely what they didn’t need, as they looked to recover their form ahead of the play-offs, but it was an afternoon where despite a promising start, little went right for the club.

The Amabilino Perez twins were perhaps the star performers on the day. Adria led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds off the back of 7/10 floor shooting; meanwhile Brian shrugged off foul trouble to contribute ten points, seven rebounds and four steals, from 5/6 floor shooting.

Elsewhere, Oli Stanley notched up thirteen points, Chris Taylor had ten points and seven assists, Max Morrison netted ten points and eight rebounds, while Kayne King dished off a further six assists to go with his six points.

However, Derby were taunted by their former star player Josh Ward-Hibbert, who led the Riders with 23 points, including 7/9 at the free-throw line. Levi Noel added 18 and Max Richardson 17 for the visitors on a disappointing afternoon for the Trailblazers.

“We weren't at our best today,” admitted Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“We could find much rhythm at either end and I thought Loughborough played really well. We were unable to get to the free throw line very much and that was a big factor with Loughborough making 16/21 while we were only 4/6.

"To only shoot six free throws in the whole game was a season low by quite some considerable distance, so we will take a look to see if there is anything we can do better there,” he said.

Powered by the strong shooting of the twins, Derby raced to an early 7-2 advantage, with Brian scoring twice inside and Adria adding a basket from long range.

Loughborough struck back though, with a three-pointer from Max Richardson and two buckets for Alex Roberts forming part of a 2-9 run which put them 9-11 ahead.

However, their lead was only temporary, as a coast to coast move from King sparked a 12-3 run for the Trailblazers as they opened up a 21-14 lead. A pair of free-throws for Loughborough were followed by a score from Brian Amabilino Perez to end the first quarter with Derby ahead by seven.

Lucius Christofis opened the second with a triple, but his shot was matched by a long range effort from Brian Amabilino Perez to push the lead back to seven points, but thereafter, the Blazers found themselves stuck in a rut.

The Riders piled in fifteen points without reply, with a Derby time-out doing nothing to stop the run. A bench technical contributed to Loughborough’s scoring, with Josh Ward-Hibbert sinking the free-throw and Christofis scoring from the possession.

With 5’17” remaining before the break and the Students now leading 26-34, Coach Shaw had to call for a second time-out to stop the rot and this time, he got the response he was looking for.

Consecutive scores from Stanley were followed by a reverse lay-up from Taylor and an inevitable Loughborough time-out, after which Taylor found Adria Amabilino Perez for a drive to the hoop which tied the scores at 34-all. Loughborough then used a 5-8 run to take a 39-42 lead into the half time break.

The third quarter was dismal from Derby’s perspective. After reducing the gap to a single point, they conceded six straight points. A three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez steadied things, but the Riders then went on another 0-8 burst to lead 44-56.

The visitors were still ahead by ten as the game moved into the final quarter, but a strong start from Derby and Morrison in particular got them right back into the game. Morrison scored six of the points in an 11-4 start to the period as the Blazers clawed back to 63-66 with seven minutes left.

Unfortunately, that was as close as they would get. A 0-5 burst from the Riders made it an eight point game, but a basket from Stanley and another three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez pulled the score back to 68-71.

This time, Loughborough converted a free-throw and followed it up with back to back triples as they once again asserted their authority on the game. However, Derby responded once again, as Stanley scored six straight points to make it 73-78 with two minutes left, but that would be their last score of the day.

A basket from Richardson and a series of free-throws as the Blazers fouled to stop the clock were enough to see them over the line with a 73-84 away win.

Summing up, Coach Shaw said:

"As things worked out, the Riders win means they finish fifth so we'll face them again next week. That makes the game a more interesting one to reflect on. We will take a look at the things we did well and where we need to improve as well.

"The good news is that we know we can and have played a lot better than we did today, so it should be a fun week getting ready."

Derby now head into the post-season with a chance to gain immediate revenge, as their quarter final tie pitches them up against Loughborough once again. The game will take place at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre and will be a 3:30pm tip-off on Sunday 2nd April.

Derby: A. Amabilino Perez 19, Stanley 13, B. Amabilino Perez 11, Taylor 10, Morrison 10, King 6, Ward-Hibbert 4, Bowen 0, Singleton 0, Smith 0, Wroe 0.

Riders: Ward-Hibbert 23, Noel 18, Richardson 17, Christofis 11, Roberts 7, Chingombe 2, Dietrich 2, Pinnock 2, Russell 2, Broughton 0, A. Forsyth 0, D. Forsyth 0.

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Sunday’s results are summarised below:

D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 73 – 84 Loughborough Student Riders
U14 Boys (play-off): Manchester Magic II 64 – 50 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Girls (playoff): Manchester Mystics 66 – 33 Derby Trailblazers