D1: Hemel snatch victory after Derby have ball handling nightmare 11/03/17


Derby Trailblazers 71 (15, 33, 56)
Hemel Storm 76 (13, 39, 53)
NBL Men’s Division One

Too many unforced turnovers were once again Derby’s downfall as they fell to a third successive defeat in NBL division one. Hemel Storm scored twenty-six of their points as a direct result of the twenty-three turnovers committed by the Trailblazers, as they ground out a 71-76 away win to cement their place in the top eight.

It’s a worrying situation for Derby, who were equally as reckless with the ball at Worthing a week ago, but aside from that aspect of the game, this wasn’t a bad performance from the Blazers, who were hampered by a back injury to Matt Ward-Hibbert, which was sustained in training on Thursday night.

Ward-Hibbert was therefore left on the bench the start of the game and managed only eight minutes before retiring hurt.

Despite their short comings in terms of ball handling, Derby out-shot Hemel from inside, outside and at the free-throw line, as well as blocking five Storm shots, but it was the visitors who dominated in terms of rebounding, steals and overall efficiency.

"It was frustrating for the guys because we battled hard and put ourselves in a great position to win, but we made a lot of mistakes in the last few minutes and just couldn't find a way to close out the game.

“Fewer turnovers is certainly one of the main things we need to put right, we just didn't look after the ball well enough. At times I thought our defence was sensational, but we had a few mental breakdowns and got punished, that's what happens at this level.

"We knew Matt [Ward-Hibbert] would be a doubt and although he tried to play through a back injury, he couldn't manage more than a few minutes,” he said.

Brian Amabilino Perez led Derby with 15 points, which included a perfect 4/4 at the line, while Chris Taylor sank a quartet of three-pointers within his fourteen point tally, as well as adding eleven rebounds, six assists and two steels.

Elsewhere, Oli Stanley and Jake Wesselingh both added twelve points, with Max Morrison adding seven points and nine rebounds.

An error strewn opening spell was particularly painful to watch, as both sides missed countless opportunities. Almost three minutes had elapsed before Hemel’s American forward Khapri Alston finally opened the scoring with a jump shot.

After a response from Oli Stanley, the visitors moved 2-7 ahead, but Derby struck back with seven straight points to lead 9-7, as Brian Amabilino Perez scored twice, either side of a Taylor triple.

A Hemel time-out was followed by exchange of baskets, before Storm added consecutive scores via offensive rebounds from Wayne Yeboah and Tom Adorian. However, it was the Trailblazers who took a 15-13 lead into the first break, as a Morrison dunk was followed up with a pair of free-throws from Adria Amabilino Perez.

Hemel started the second quarter with six straight points but their run was cancelled out as Derby replied with an 8-0 burst which included a pair of baskets from Stanley. The Storm then dominated the next four minutes, going on 14-4 run, with Alston netting nine of the points to give his side a 27-33 advantage.

Consecutive three-pointers from Brian Amabilino Perez and Wesselingh tied the scores at 33-all, but unfortunately, Derby couldn’t build on that situation. Hemel added six straight points in the run up to half-time and began the third quarter with a three-pointer from Carl Josey to lead 33-42.

The momentum finally switched back in the Trailblazers favour after a controversial incident midway through the period.

Hemel were arguing for a shot-clock reset after a lengthy scuffle for the ball. But since neither team had been in complete control of the ball following the attempted Derby steal, the referees correctly refused to reset the clock, leaving the Storm with an end line possession and just one second with which to attempt a score.

In the end, their inbound pass was stripped away by Taylor and after a fast break offence down the court, he knocked down a sweet three-pointer. Morrison then blocked Hemel’s next shot and Taylor sank one of two at the line after being fouled by Alston.

Morrison then converted three of four at the line either side of a score from Yeboah and when the Hemel bench protested once too often, they were punished with a technical foul.

Taylor duly sank the resulting free-throw and Brian Amabilino Perez produced a reverse lay-up from the possession to conclude a 12-2 run which gave Derby a 49-48 lead.

Hemel briefly responded with a triple from Jack Burnell and another basket from Yeboah, but three-pointers from Adria Amabilino Perez and Wesselingh restored Derby’s lead, with the latter making his basket a four-point play after being fouled.

That gave the Blazers a 56-53 lead going into the final quarter and when Adria opened the fourth with a deuce courtesy of his brother’s assist, it looked like Derby were finally in the ascendancy.

Further triples from Taylor and Wesselingh helped the Trailblazers to a 68-66 lead with two minutes remaining, but Hemel, aided by a string of Derby turnovers and ill-advised shots, closed out the game with a 0-10 burst.

With four seconds remaining, Taylor netted a consolation three-pointer, but it was too little, too late and the Trailblazers were left rueing a missed opportunity and wondering if they can maintain their grasp on fourth spot and the home advantage it offers for the post season.

With five games left, Derby probably need to win at least three for that to happen, starting with Sunday’s trip to Westminster Warriors.

Derby: B. Amabilino Perez 15, Taylor 14, Stanley 12, Wesselingh 12, A. Amabilino Perez 9, Morrison 7, Ward-Hibbert 2, King 0, Bowen DNP, Singleton DNP.

Hemel: Alston 25, Yeboah 15, Rhodes 11, Burnell 6, Mumuni 6, Josey 5, Adorian 4, Darlow 4, Allin 0, Kearney 0.

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Saturday’s results are summarised below:

D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 71 – 76 London Lituanica
U18 Men (Prem): Newcastle Eagles 90 – 79 Derby Trailblazers
U18 Men (Conf): Derby Trailblazers II 79 – 61 Notts Nova
U14 Girls (NR): Derby Trailblazers 85 – 20 Leicester Warriors