D1: Trailblazers’ young guns impress to produce win at Tees Valley
Tees Valley Mohawks 76 (22, 42, 55)
Derby Trailblazers 83 (27, 47, 57)
NBL Men’s Division One
Derby Trailblazers overcame the absence of the Watts brothers and Adria Amabilino Perez, to grind out a much needed 83-76 away win over Tees Valley Mohawks.
With Dan ruled out through illness and older brother David TinTin Watts unavailable because of University commitments, things could have been difficult for Derby, but when the spotlight fell on their young Academy players, they proved precisely what they are capable of.
Backed up by the experienced group of Sydney Donaldson, Chris Taylor, Oli Stanley and Barish Salih, seventeen year old Brian Amabilino started and produced an eleven point / eleven rebound double-double. Kayne King dished off eight assists and Jake Wesselingh came off the bench to net sixteen points, six rebounds and two assists.
Former Trailblazers forward Joel Madourie led the Mohawks with twenty-two points and six rebounds, while Rob Donaldson added seventeen and eight and American guard Scottie Hendricks finished with sixteen points, despite missing all but one of his eight three-pointers.
Derby also took complete control of the glass, particularly at the offensive end of the court, where twenty-six of their fifty-seven rebounds were captured. In contrast, the Tees Valley collected just thirty-nine overall, fourteen at the offensive end.
“Without Dan and TinTin [Watts], we knew it was going to be tough and I was delighted with how the guys played. Everyone chipped in and picked up the slack a little, which was exactly what we asked,” said Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.
Derby certainly got off to a great start, with Taylor knocking down a three-pointer from the far corner courtesy off an offensive rebound and assist from Amabilino.
The Trailblazers looked keen to make an impact from outside the arc, attempting five in the opening few minutes, but it was only Taylor who found his range, with a second long-range shot dropping to give Derby a 10-2 lead.
After George Calvey made a pair of free throws, Barish Salih came off the bench to add a triple and when Wesselingh checked into the game, he quickly added two more three-pointers, putting the Blazers 11-22 ahead. The second of Wesselingh’s triples could have been a four-point play, but he couldn’t convert the bonus free throw.
Derby’s biggest lead of the game came with 1’33” left, when Sydney Donaldson converted a pair of free throws to make it 15-27, before Tees Valley struck back consecutive three-pointers from Rob Donaldson (no relation). The home side also sank one of two at the line, after two quick fouls on Taylor saw Derby in the penalty. That sequence took the first quarter score to 22-27.
Wesselingh continued where he had left off at the start of the second, knocking down his third triple of the game, but the Trailblazers were struggling to pull away. A three-pointer from Amabilino restored a five point advantage, but Madourie twice cut the gap to a single point, before another long range shot from Wesselingh helped Derby go into the break leading 47-42.
A number of missed shots and turnovers hampered the Blazers progress early in the third, helping Tees Valley to cut the gap to 50-51 at Hendricks struck from downtown.
Amabilino missed a response from close to the hoop and after Salih also failed with an attempted tip-in, the Mohawks set off on a fast break, where Lloyd Samuels gave them their first lead, prompting a Derby time-out with 4’16” on the clock.
Two changes of lead followed, before an Amabilino tip-in tied the scores at 55-all and the Trailblazers beat the buzzer to edge 55-57 ahead, after King found Stanley directly under the basket for an easy score.
Further scores from Stanley twice stretched the lead to five points, before Taylor made it 62-68, with 6’40” remaining, courtesy of another assist from King.
Desperate to find a way to win in order to ease their relegation fears, Tees Valley were in no mood to give up the fight and four points from Madourie formed part of an 8-2 run, which saw the scores tied at 70-all just two and half minutes later.
Rob Donaldson then put the Mohawks ahead, after Wesselingh had missed from the top of the arc, but Taylor tied matters at 72-all, before Sydney Donaldson nudged the game back in Derby’s favour, with only his second field goal of the night.
After Tees Valley turned the ball over with ninety second left, Donaldson then sank a pair from the line before Taylor virtually put the game safe, with his third and final three-pointer of the night.
That took the score to 72-79 with less than a minute to go and single free-throws from Taylor and Salih, plus a pair from King secured the win.
“In the first half, I thought Wes [Jake Wesselingh] was outstanding, carrying on from where he left off against Westminster last weekend. They focused on him a little more in the second half, but he still made a positive contribution,” commented Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“Ollie was outstanding throughout and of course Chris had an excellent game too, despite getting into some foul trouble early on. Even though Sydney didn't have his best game, he made a number of big plays in the last four minutes just like we've seen him do so many times this season.
“It was a hard fought win, we had to battle for it and dig deep, but it was really pleasing how we closed out the game,” he said.
Derby now host Lancashire Spinners on Saturday, looking to maintain their 100% home record by beating the division one newcomers for the first time this season. Tip-off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall is at 7:15pm.
Tees Valley: Madourie 22, Donaldson 17, Hendricks 16, Foulds 6, Samuels 6, Grant 4, Anyigbo 3, Moore 2.
Derby: Stanley 18, Taylor 16, Wesselingh 16, B. Amabilino Perez 11, Donaldson 8, Salih 6, Calvey 4, King 4, Nelson 0.
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The full results from the weekend were as follows:
D1 Men: Tees Valley Mohawks 76 – 83 Derby Trailblazers
D3 Men: Derby Trailblazers II 101 – 65 Mansfield Giants
Men’s Dev: Derby Trailblazers 81 – 91 Sheffield Hallam Sharks
U18 Men (NP): Derbyshire Arrows 51 - Derby Trailblazers 75
U16 Boys (MDL): Derby Trailblazers 79 – 72 Mansfield Giants
U14 Boys (NP): Derby Trailblazers 58 – 88 Northampton Titans
U14 Boys (MDL): Leicester Dynamite 64 – 45 Derby Trailblazers II
U14 Girls (NDL): Derby Trailblazers 49 – 72 Leeds Force
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