D1: Trailblazers dominate from tip to buzzer in North-East thriller


Team Northumbria 69 (25, 38, 60)
Derby Trailblazers 90 (27, 56, 72)
NBL Men’s Division One

Derby Trailblazers moved to the top of the NBL D1 league table for the first time this season, after completely out performing Team Northumbria from start to finish of a phenomenal match.

The 90-69 victory was Derby’s most complete performance of the season so far and was also their first ever away win over Northumbria. Not surprisingly, it left Head Coach Matt Shaw delighted by his team’s performance:

“I thought our guys were focused right from the start and we set the tone of the game from the opening tip. It was an incredibly intense and physical game, so it was so pleasing to see that we can play at that level for the full forty minutes, especially after Saturday night’s game and the lengthy journey to the North East.

“Our defensive performances from every single player were simply awesome. We made Northumbria work for everything and never gave up any easy baskets. We did a lot of little things really well, like jumping on loose balls and getting deflections and we felt that was important too.

“At the other end of the court, we tried to follow our game plan and it was a real team display. Every time they made a run and we needed a bucket quickly, someone made a tough shot or a big play, which is crucial if you’re going to win big games like this one,” he said.

Derby got off to another of their trademark high energy starts. This time Rema Lascelles found Oli Stanley, who produced a stylish reverse lay-up.

Brian Amabilino Perez followed that up with a drive through the key for an easy basket before Northumbria’s Blayne Freckleton swished a three-pointer to make it 3-4.

The Trailblazers then hit the next nine points without reply. There were baskets for Stanley, Josh Ward-Hibbert and a pair from either side of the arc from Chris Taylor.

In between times, Stanley was hovering up rebounds for fun. Against Westminster, most of his rebounding was at the offensive end, but in this game, it was at the defensive end of the court where were his efforts were predominantly focussed.

A frustrated Coach Marc Steutel called time-out and launched a heated vocal tirade at his players. It didn’t make much difference though, as Derby extended their lead to 8-20 by the fifth minute.

Gradually though, Northumbria did start to claw back into the game. A 7-17 run saw them close the first quarter trailing by just a single basket, at 25-27.

At the start of the second, Derby replied in kind, with a 17-7 run of their own, thanks in part to Ward-Hibbert, who hit ten of the points in the run. That put the Blazers 32-44 ahead and a further 10-2 finish to the half left them 38-56 up at the break.

Among the highlights of that run were outside and inside scores from Kayne King and a beautiful reverse lay-up from Lascelles, who also completed a three-point play on the stroke of half time.

Northumbria’s American import Malcolm Smith briefly began to control the game in the third quarter; thirteen of his 31 points came in that ten minute spell, with six of those points coming via offensive rebounds, but Derby subsequently made adjustments to limit his effectiveness.

Consecutive baskets from Morrison, coupled with inside and out scores from Ward-Hibbert quickly restored an eighteen point advantage for the Trailblazers.

Either side of the final break, Smith and Freckleton combined for eight straight points, but Derby responded in style. First Taylor found Lascelles for a wide open three and then Stanley produced an almighty one-handed slam, which had both sets of supporters on their feet.

Northumbria got no closer than thirteen points in the remainder of the game, allowing the Trailblazers to experiment and produce some more flashy plays.

First King produced the assist of the season so far, as he wrapped the ball around his back to pass off to Ward-Hibbert under the basket. Then Lascelles nailed another long range bomb, before King provided another classy assist from which Stanley produced another reversal.

Ward-Hibbert finished with 26 points, ten rebounds and five assists; Lascelles had 16 points, five rebounds and eight assists, while Stanley finished with 14 points and eleven rebounds. Morrison and Taylor were the other two players to finish in double-digits, with ten points each.

Coach Shaw was pleased with the double winning weekend, but says the Trailblazers aren’t the finished product just yet:

“We still have some work to do, but we played really well, particularly against Northumbria. We shot a good percentage in both games, both from beyond the arc and inside and we also dominated the rebounding in both matches,” he said.

Northumbria: Smith 31, Freckleton 18, Stewart 9, Preston 5, Champion, 4, Oyefusi 2, Morrison 0, Devitt DNP, Havinden DNP, Kabengelee DNP, Ireland DNP, Speight DNP.

Derby: Ward-Hibbert 26, Lascelles 16, Stanley 14, Taylor 10, Morrison 10, A. Amabilino Perez 5, King 5, B. Amabilino Perez 4, Elliott-Sewell 0, Silva DNP.

Derby have another lengthy trip to make next weekend, when they go to D1 newcomers Solent Kestrels in the league on Saturday night (6.45pm). Then on Sunday, attention switches to the National Cup, when the Trailblazers will be at home to Loughborough Student Riders (4.15pm).

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

D1 Men: Team Northumbria 69-90 Derby Trailblazers
Men’s Shield (R2): Derby Trailblazers II 60-85 Charnwood Riders
U18 Men (Mids): Derby Trailblazers II v Northants Titans – match postponed
U16 Boys (WM): Derby Trailblazers v Worcester Wolves – match postponed
U14 Boys (M1): Notts Nova 56-57 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Girls (North): Leeds Force 31-73 Derby Trailblazers


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