D1: Trailblazers delight fans with ‘dunk-fest’ against Westminster


Derby Trailblazers 90 (24, 53, 77)
Westminster Warriors 74 (31, 39, 58)
NBL Men’s Division One

Derby Trailblazers unbeaten start to the NBL division one league season continued with a 90-79 home win over Westminster Warriors in a match which produced a range of scintillating slam dunks along the way.

For the second home game in succession, Derby started off in emphatic style. Oli Stanley won the jump ball and tipped it back to Rema Lascelles. The Derby captain then launched a pass which covered three-quarters of the court’s length, before being caught by Josh Ward-Hibbert who opened the game with an explosive dunk.

Next up, it was the turn of Stanley, who dunked the ball as part of a 10-nil start to the second quarter. Just six minutes later, Lascelles found Ward-Hibbert with a perfectly timed alley-oop pass to produce another dunk and the final one came midway through the third quarter, as Chris Taylor dished off under the basket to let Max Morrison slam the ball home as part of another 11-nil run.

Each of the dunks brought the crowd to their feet, but the game wasn’t all plain sailing for Derby.

Westminster piled in thirty-one points in a defensively poor first quarter from the Trailblazers, but Derby subsequently stepped up their game in the second period, holding the visitors to just eleven points as they transformed a 31-24 deficit into a 53-42 half time lead.

Once back in front, the Trailblazers rarely looked troubled, but Westminster fought until the bitter end, twice closing the gap to just eight points as they battled in vain in pursuit of their first win.

Josh Ward-Hibbert led the team with 25 points and eleven rebounds; Oli Stanley had 19 points and 14 rebounds, eleven of which came at the offensive end and Rema Lascelles produced 16 points and dished off a game high nine assists.

After Stanley’s opening dunk Abraham Ekperuoh converted a pair of free-throws, before Lascelles provided the assist for a three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez. Westminster then sank another pair from the line, before Stanley got the first of his multiple offensive put-backs.

Strong play from Ward-Hibbert helped Derby open up a 13-8, before back-to-back three-pointers from Ekperuoh gave Westminster their first lead of the game. Three-pointers from Chris Taylor and Brian Amabilino Perez and a two from Kayne King helped restore a 21-19 lead.

However, the Warriors went on to finish the first quarter with a 12-3 burst, aided by another pair of triples from Ekperuoh, which put Westminster 31-24 up after ten minutes.

Derby dominated the opening stages of the second. A three-pointer from Adria Amabilino Perez was followed by nine straight points for Stanley, including the second of those four slam dunks, as Derby moved 34-31 ahead.

Westminster briefly tied the scores with a triple from Juan Manning, but after an exchange of baskets, the Trailblazers produced another dominant spell up to half time. They began with a tripled from Taylor, before Lascelles found Ward-Hibbert for another dunk, before knocking down another pair of three-pointers in a 15-nil run, which left Derby 53-39 up at the break.

Ward-Hibbert produced another triple to start the third, before Westminster briefly cut the gap back to fourteen points. However, an 11-nil run followed, with Morrison’s dunk the highlight, which not-surprisingly prompted a time-out from the visitors.

The Trailblazers biggest lead came straight after the resumption. Morrison was fouled and went to the line where he sank a pair of free-throws to take the score to 73-51.

Westminster continued to fight, as Kiam Omodu and John Jay Johnson became their main two protagonists. The pair netted seven and six points respectively in a late 17-4 burst, which left them just 83-75 in arrears.

Derby needed a couple of time-outs in the final four and half minutes to steady the situation and they were duly rewarded with a 90-79 home win.

“We probably started too slowly and gave Westminster some early confidence and they certainly played well in the first minutes,” said Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“After the first quarter, we became more focused and got into our rhythm. It was a scrappy game but I thought we gained control in the second half. It was a good win, I think despite not getting a league win so far, they will definitely beat some teams this season,” he said.

Derby: Ward-Hibbert 25, Stanley 19, Lascelles 16, Taylor 12, A. Amabilino Perez 8, Morrison 5, A. Amabilino Perez 3, King 2, Singleton 0, Smith 0.

Warriors: Ekperuoh 27, Johnson 16, Manning 16, Amodu 9, Rundle 6, Musa Odia 3, Al-Shamri 2, Miller 0.

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A summary of Saturday’s results is provided below. Sunday’s match report and results are contained within a separate press release.

D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 90-79 Westminster Warriors
D4 Men (Mids): City of Birmingham xx-yy Derby Trailblazers
U18 Men (Prem): Sheffield Junior Sharks 68-78 Derby Trailblazers


Game photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derbytrailblazersbasketball/albums