D1: Trailblazers’ strong defence leads to victory over Team Northumbria


Derby Trailblazers 62 (17, 37, 48) }
Team Northumbria 60 (10, 27, 40) }
NBL Men’s Division One


Team -northumbria -lowresDerby Trailblazers produced their best defensive performance of the season in order to beat a side which they had caused them significant problems in the Northern Pool of the Men’s Trophy, just seven weeks earlier. Team Northumbria had dominated that match, leading by as many as seventeen points, before a late Derby flurry saw the game end in a 76-66 win for the visitors.

Apart from a slightly nervous finish, there were no such problems this time around. An excellent first half performance set Derby on the road to a 62-60 home victory, which took their unbeaten league start to six games.

David TinTin Watts double-double of 16 points and ten rebounds was supplemented by Dan Watts 14 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Equally impressive was Oli Stanley, who ended the game with ten points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Alongside Reiss Harwood, Stanley made things intolerable for Northumbria’s front line, who found it almost impossible to score.

“Defensively, we were excellent,” admitted Head Coach Matt Shaw. “I thought Oli and Reiss were magnificent, but we also had some solid contributions from Kayne King, Sydney Donaldson and Barish Salih, all of whom made life difficult for their guards.”

Salih was called upon early in the game when Donaldson was called for two fouls inside the first four minutes and King suffered an ankle injury which required lengthy treatment. However, the Trailblazers youngster returned to play a significant role as the game progressed, helping to steer his side to victory with ever increasing maturity.

Siman Stewart opened the scoring for Northumbria, but that was the only time they would lead in the entire contest. A single free-throw from King was followed by baskets for Donaldson and TinTin Watts, to open up a 5-4 lead.

After both sides exchanged pairs of free-throws, three-pointers were also exchanged, with Salih replying to a long range shot from Jack Wilson. That was the start of a 10-3 run, which saw Derby close the first quarter leading 17-10.

The Trailblazers opened the second with a 5-2 run, which included a huge slam-dunk and some serious hang-time from Oli Stanley, before Northumbria hit something of a purple patch. Inspired by nine points from Lewis Champion, they went on a 10-2 run, cutting the gap to 24-22.

However, Derby responded well, with the Watts brothers combining for all but two of the points in a 13-5 run which sent the Trailblazers into the half time break leading 37-27.

Derby struggled to build on that advantage throughout the third and when Northumbria began the fourth quarter with seven unanswered points, they suddenly found their lead cut to just a single point, at 48-47 with 7’10” on the clock.

It was time for their young squad to display maturity and determination beyond their years. After TinTin Watts made a single free-throw resulting from a technical foul on Damoy Robertson, King and Wesselingh did just that, scoring from inside and out, either side of a Robertson lay-up.

Northumbria once again cut the gap to two points, before King found Dan Watts open for a huge three-pointer, which prompted a time-out from the visitors with forty-six seconds remaining.

With Derby 57-52 up, they must have thought they had done enough to win the game, but there was still time for more late drama. First Randolph missed a pair of free-throws for the visitors. Then TinTin sank two for the Trailblazers, to extend their lead to seven points.

Seconds later, when Randolph found himself back on the line, he sank both shots. Then on their next possession, the man who had blitzed Derby for thirty-four points, including nine three-pointers in the last match, converted his only long range shot of the night, cutting the gap to 59-57 with eighteen seconds left.

Derby called time-out and Northumbria were quick to foul when play resumed. However, Dan Watts remained calm to sink two of two at the line.

There were gasps from the large crowd as Ryan Addison made it a one point game by sinking a three-pointer with four seconds on the clock, but one of two from Donaldson was enough to seal a 62-60 home victory.

“We were delighted to get the win, as Northumbria are always a very tough and well drilled team,” commented Coach Shaw.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Steve Baxter and Michael Hanson-Morris for the scouting report; they've been doing an excellent job all year and once again, they were spot on. Even more important was the way our lads responded by playing the sort of defence required to restrict their personal. It was probably the best defence we've played this season.

“I guess for the neutral, the last few minutes were exciting, but on reflection, we allowed them to make a couple of plays late on which made things really close. However, I was pleased with how we executed offensively too in the later stages.

“We made some critical free throws and got the ball in the right players hands from our perspective,” he said.

Derby: David Watts 16, Dan Watts 14, Stanley 10, King 8, Donaldson 7, Wesselingh 3, Nelson 1, Salih 3, Calvey DNP.

Northumbria: Champion 24, Stewart 8, Robertson 7, Addison 6, Randolph 5, Devitt 4, Duru 0, Gray 0, Kabengele 0, Preston 0, Watson DNP.

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Saturday’s results in full are as follows:
D1 Men: Derby 62-60 Team Northumbria
U18 Men (NP): Derby 102-65 Derbyshire Arrows
U14 Boys (MDL): Worcester Bears 140-47 Derby
U14 Girls (NDL): Derby 77-41 Lancashire Spinners Bury


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