D1: Storm blown off track as Derby produce defensive masterclass


Derby Trailblazers 77 (21, 36, 56)
Hemel Storm 66 (18, 30, 48)

NBL Men’s Division 1


Hemel Storm Low ResDerby Trailblazers produced one of their best defensive performances of the season so far, as they reached the midpoint of the league season with a particularly satisfying win over Hemel Storm.

Prior to facing Derby for the second time this season, Hemel had been averaging 85 points per league game, but the Trailblazers held them to just 66 points overall, as well as significantly limiting the effectiveness of two of the division’s top scorers, in Bode Adeluola and Nik Rhodes.

With Sydney Donaldson nursing an injury and only playing just over fourteen minutes, it was once again Kayne King whose defensive skills came to the fore. Help came from all the Blazers other guards, particularly around the perimeter, where their tenacious defence meant Hemel only connected on four of their sixteen three-point attempts.

At the opposite end, the Watts brothers dominated the scoring with David netting six three’s on his way to 26 points against his former club. Dan added 18 points, nine of which came from the free-throw line, where he only missed one of his ten shots.

Head Coach Matt Shaw described it as ‘another excellent team performance’ as the Trailblazers maintained their 100% home record in the league:

“I thought TinTin and Dan were great in terms of leadership and the pair put in some special displays at both ends of the floor.

“With Sydney not at 100%, Kayne stepped up to produce another great defensive effort and was a major part of us being able to limit their two main scoring threats to a combined total of 19 points, when they usually average about that amount each.

“Defensively, I thought we were superb. I liked the fact we were able to mix it up with some zone and a lot of man of man and it was pleasing to see guys sticking to their tasks so well,” he said.

Hemel were first on the score sheet, as big man Tom Adorian netted back-to-back baskets, before a three-pointer from Donaldson gave Derby their first lead at 6-5 after three and half minutes.

After a response from Adeluola, a pair of Dan Watts’ steals lead to scores for Ollie Stanley and Donaldson and when TinTin Watts struck from downtown, it was 13-7 to the Blazers and Hemel needed an early time-out.

Both Tin-Tin and Jake Wesselingh added further three-pointers to keep Derby’s offense ticking along and although a triple from Walid Mumuni cut the gap to 19-18, a drive to the hoop from Wesselingh gave Derby a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

The long range baskets continued throughout the second, with TinTin bagging another pair as part of a 13-2 run. The sequence helped the Trailblazers open up a 34-24 lead, as Brian Amabilino also converted from downtown, Dan Watts sank a pair of free-throws and Stanley converted an offensive rebound into points.

Hemel cut the gap to 36-30 by the break, and then made it a four point game early in the third, with a basket from former Derby player Damien Edwards. However, the Trailblazers responded with nine unanswered points, seven of which came from the line.

The Trailblazers took a 56-48 lead into the final break, before three-pointers from both Watts brothers saw them stretch their lead to eleven points. Hemel weren’t going away though and it was inevitable that if they kept shooting from outside, eventually some shot would drop and they did as Simon Kearney pair of triples made it 68-6 with 2’25” on the clock.

However, that was as close as Hemel would get. Stanley scored a pair of baskets either side of a response from Kearney, but as Hemel resorted to fouling to regain possession, they were punished as Derby sank 5/6 at the line to open up their biggest lead of the night at 77-62.

Summing up, Coach Shaw was full of praise for both sides:

“Hemel are a very good team and they did a good job of hanging around and finding some different ways to score against our strong defence. Kearney played stepped up in the second half and credit to them, because it was an intense game where nothing was easy.

“We perhaps lost our composure a little in the early part of the fourth, but we quickly re focused, got some stops and began to score again. A number of different players chipped in with important contributions, which meant despite Reiss Harwood still being out with injury, we played eleven guys proving we have some depth and a lot of competition for minutes.

“George again stepped up and contributed some good minutes as back up to Ollie who was in great form again. His performances this first season of Division One basketball have been nothing short of phenomenal. Once again, he scored some important baskets, defended well and made a massive impact.

“He's worked hard on his game over a number of seasons, firstly playing on our U18 B-team, then the Academy second team, before moving up and playing Division 4, then Division 3 and now finally for the senior team. He's a great example of someone who has come through the club, waited patiently for opportunities and continued to work hard,” he said.

Next weekend brings a trip to Bradford on Saturday (6:15pm) and a home game against London Lituanica on Sunday afternoon (2:15pm).

“They will both be difficult games,” said Coach Shaw. “This is an exciting league in which there are no easy matches, but ultimately I think that’s a good thing, because we are keen to keep getting better as a group and as individuals,” he said.

Derby: David Watts 26, Dan Watts 18, Stanley 12, Taylor 7, Donaldson 5, Wesselingh 5, Brian Amabilino 3, King 1, Adria Amabilino 0, Calvey 0, Salih 0, Nelson DNP.

Hemel: Kearney 15, Adeluola 14, Adorian 13, Mumuni 9, Rhodes 5, Darlow 4, Edwards 4, Wood 0, Allin DNP, Percival DNP.


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Elsewhere, in Division III North, Derby Trailblazers II beat Myerscough College 101-79; the U18 Men beat Sheffield Junior Sharks 84-43 and the U16 Boys were 90-56 winners at home to Nottingham Junior Hoods. The U14 Boys Premier League side beat Stockport Falcons 61-37, but their female counterparts in the U14 Girls lost 48-32 away to Sheffield Hatters.


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