D1: Trailblazers’ blistering second half charge leaves Rockets grounded
Reading Rockets 78 (21, 43, 55)
Derby Trailblazers 90 (15, 36, 66)
NBL Men’s Division One
A stunning second half performance saw Derby Trailblazers clinch their second biggest away win over Reading Rockets, to maintain their unbeaten start in NBL division one.
Josh Ward-Hibbert led Derby on an offensive rampage, scoring two thirds of his thirty-three points in the second half. He also added five rebounds and two assists in a consummate performance.
Rema Lascelles added eighteen points, five rebounds and seven assists, while Max Morrison had a double-double of twelve points and ten rebounds, off the back of 80% floor shooting.
Collectively, the Trailblazers did a brilliant job of rebounding, completely negating their opponents’ height advantage and leading to more second chance scoring opportunities.
However, it was an incredible third quarter which swung the balance in Derby’s favour. They began it with a 17-3 run and eventually took the period 30-12, to open up a 66-55 advantage going into the final quarter.
To casual observer, it seemed as though the Trailblazers were now firmly in control, but Reading had other ideas. A 15-4 run saw them tie the game at 70-all with five and half minutes left.
Could the Blazers find another huge push to win the game? You bet they could!
It came in the form of another 13-0 burst, which put Derby 83-70 ahead with just two minutes remaining and there was no way they were going concede their advantage for a second time.
“That was a huge road win for us,” exclaimed the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“I think the third quarter was the key to our success. We really played at a higher tempo which resulted in us getting a couple of great runs going.
“There won’t be too many times this season where we can go out and score thirty points in a quarter, but we’ve proved we’re capable of scoring in big bunches when we get the basics right.
“I thought we attacked the basket a lot more and put considerable pressure on their defence around the basket.
“To perform so well against a side like Reading was extremely pleasing. They’re an excellent team and I fully expect them to be around or about the top of the table come the end of the season.
“Although we didn’t play great basketball in the first half, we managed to hang around and scrap about, before stepping up defensively, which in turn sparked our offence into life,” he said.
The opening few minutes of the match were fairly evenly contested, before the Rockets went on a 13-nil burst, holding Derby scoreless for over four minutes.
The Trailblazers fought back with a basket from Chris Taylor and four points from Morrison, all of which helped them cut the gap to 21-15 by the end of the quarter.
Rockets dominated the early stages of the second, gradually building their lead to 41-28, thanks to some strong play from American guard Craig Ponder. Derby needed another fight back, which they found by drawing a string of fouls, from which they converted a number of free-throws.
Brian Amabilino Perez made 4/4 on his way to 8/8 in the game overall, while Morrison also converted another pair, as the Trailblazers cut the gap to 43-36 by the break.
The match then took the appearance of a seesaw, with first Derby building a big lead, then Reading responding and finally the Trailblazers dominating down the stretch to secure the win.
It was a hard fought victory, but a rewarding one, with Derby both shooting the ball and rebounding better than Reading. There will be few clubs who manage to do that against one of the league title favourites this season.
Reading: Ponder 29, Hooper 18, Valerio Rojas 11, Carter 7, Keeble 7, Jassey Demba 4, Ali 2, Arcau 0, Gomez 0, Paulin 0, Rana 0.
Derby: Ward-Hibbert 33, Lascelles 18, Morrison 12, B. Amabilino Perez 10, Oliver 8, Taylor 6, A. Amabilino Perez 3, King 0.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The following is a summary of all the club’s results from Saturday. Sunday games are shown on a separate press release:
D1 Men: Reading Rockets 78-90 Derby Trailblazers
U18M (Prem): Derby Trailblazers 71-65 Leicester Riders
U18M (Mids): Nottingham Junior Hoods 62-84 Derby Trailblazers
U16 Boys (WM): Shropshire Warriors 65-54 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Boys (M1): Leicester Dynamite 37-63 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Girls: Derby Trailblazers 60-87 Tameside Royals
Game photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derbytrailblazersbasketball/albums