D1: Derby maintain 100% home league record with first win over Spinners
Derby Trailblazers 78 (26, 48, 66)
Lancashire Spinners 66 (12, 33, 47)
NBL Men’s Division One
Derby Trailblazers once again demonstrated just how much they’ve improved over the course of the season, as they comfortably beat Lancashire Spinners, a side who they had struggled against in two previous meetings.
Defensively, Derby produced one of their best performances yet, using a combination of man-to-man, zone defence and full-court pressure to restrict the Spinners to just sixty-six points. When compared to Lancashire’s league season average of eighty-two points per game, that was no mean achievement.
When the two sides met in the league in Bury last December, Mike Bernard top scored for Lancashire with twenty-four points, while Steven Gayle added a further eighteen. It was therefore deeply significant that Derby held the pair to eleven and four respectively on Saturday night.
“To keep an offensive minded team like Lancashire to less than seventy points for only the second time this season was a terrific effort and limiting Mike Bernard and Stephen Gayle to a combined total of fifteen points was a huge part of that,” said the Trailblazers Performance Analyst Michael Hanson-Morris.
“Obviously that’s very pleasing for us and it took a big team effort, with both players being defended by multiple bodies across the evening. Once again, it shows how we can rely on people to come off the bench and carry on the hard work others have started,” he said.
At the offensive end, David TinTin Watts led Blazers with twenty-one points while Sydney Donaldson added fourteen. Chris Taylor produced some great play off the bench to finish with eleven, while Oli Stanley worked tirelessly for his ten points.
One area where Derby did fall short of their opponents was on the glass, but that was largely due to the size and effectiveness of veteran big man Mike Bernard, who hovered up thirteen rebounds.
Kyle Carey and Aitor Estrada combined for another thirteen, as the Spinners won the battle of the boards 53-33, but Derby’s dominance in other areas meant that wasn’t a significant factor:
“It was another strong home performance, with lots of positives contributions from lots of guys. We started a little sloppy but quickly gained control and against a good team like Lancaster it was nice to have such a big lead for most of the game,” said Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“To be going into our final home game next weekend with a 12-0 record is a great achievement and we are grateful to the fans who make such a huge difference at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall, especially in close games.
“Chris [Taylor] was probably our stand out guy on the day; he gives us so much great energy off the bench and fills up the stats line. I think he offers us a different dimension to our play and creates tough match ups for the opponents.
“Defensively I thought we did an excellent job, mixing between man and zone and also pressing here and there. We made them work for all their baskets and held them to just five points in nine minutes at one stage. That really allowed us to take control of the game,” he said.
The sloppy start Shaw referred to resulted in the visitors taking an early seven-nil lead as Kyle Carey and Bernard scored either side of a three-pointer from Mark Rangeley. However, baskets from Donaldson and the Watts brothers cut the gap to a single point.
Rangeley then added a second triple, before Derby went on another seven-nil burst. Gayle added a jump shot to make it 13-12 with 3’10” on the clock, but that was the last time they troubled the scorers in the first quarter. By contrast, the Trailblazers piled in thirteen points without reply, helped by a trio of three-pointers from David Watts, to lead 26-12 at the first break.
That lead was stretched to nineteen points, after an offensive put-back from Stanley was supplemented by a triple from Barish Salih. Undeterred, the Spinners fought back, cutting the gap to 33-27, helped by their own trio of three-pointers.
Derby called a time-out with 5’02” on the clock and it brought resounding success. A 15-6 run through to the half-time break featured scores from inside, outside and at the line for Brian Amabilino Perez, four points from Donaldson, a three-point play from Taylor and another put-back from Stanley.
The Trailblazers subsequently edged the third quarter 18-14, ensuring they would take a nineteen point lead into the final period, but had to withstand a late fight-back from the visitors. After a three-pointer from Salih put the Blazers 78-56 ahead, Lancashire somehow managed to hold Derby scoreless for the remaining three and a half minutes.
However, it didn’t matter, because the Trailblazers had already done enough to put the game safe and maintain their unbeaten home record in the league.
“We stuck to our game plan and played with a high level of intensity, producing some of our best basketball this season. To be able to build on that as we head into the last three games of the regular season is a great benchmark for us to have,” said Hanson-Morris.
“I thought Brian [Amabilino] and Chris [Taylor] gave us a real offensive spark off the bench, which got us going after a slow start. George [Calvey] also came in and played some real high quality minutes, which is something he continues to do against some of the true centres in the league.
“To only have four turnovers in the first half was a big help. We’ve been talking about that for a long time now, but we need to produce numbers like that on a consistent basis for the rest of the season,” he said.
In summing up, Head Coach Matt Shaw revealed just how much his team has out-performed his own expectations this season:
“We genuinely started the season focussed on avoiding relegation and hoping to make a push for the play-offs. To be this close to the end of the season with a chance of finishing in the top four and possibly as high as second is a phenomenal achievement from all our players,” he said.
Derby travel to Worthing Thunder next Saturday, before facing champions elect Manchester Magic the following afternoon at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall (4:15pm).
They then round off the regular season with a trip to Reading Rockets, who after a pair of victories at the weekend, coupled with back-to-back defeats for Team Northumbria, now pose the biggest threat to the Trailblazers hopes of finishing runners up for the second season in succession.
Derby: David Watts 21, Donaldson 14, Taylor 11, Stanley 10, B. Amabilino Perez 8, Salih 6, Dan Watts 5, Calvey 2, King 1, A. Amabilino Perez 0, Wesselingh 0.
Lancs: Carey 13, Rangeley 13, Bernard 11, Murtagh 10, Estrada 6, Darling 4, Gayle 4, Hickey 3, Tordoff 2, Vaughan 0.
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The full results from the weekend were as follows:
D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 78 – 66 Lancashire Spinners
D3 Men: Newcastle-u-Lyme College Knights 81 – 68 Derby Trailblazers II
U18 Men (NPL): Derby Trailblazers 78 – 43 Leeds Allerton H/S Force
U16 Boys (MDL): Northants Titans 42 - 75 Derby Trailblazers
D3 Men: Team Newcastle University 85 – 73 Derby Trailblazers II
U14 Boys (NPL): City of Birmingham 52 – 53 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Boys (MDL): Derby Trailblazers II 35 – 40 Worcester Bears
U14 Girls (NDL): Derby Trailblazers 40 – 70 Tameside Royals
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