D1: Trailblazers need overtime to overcome Leicester’s Warriors
Leicester Warriors 75 (27, 38, 51, 68)
Derby Trailblazers 79 (16, 40, 57, 68) (after overtime)
NBL Men’s Division 1
Derby’s second game of the weekend proved once again that the form book counts for nothing where local derbies between these two old rivals are concerned.
With four tied score instances and four changes of lead, it was difficult to believe Leicester were sixteen points and seven places behind Derby in the division one league table, particularly given the start Warriors made.
They surged to a 12-3 lead after only four minutes and further extended that advantage to 25-12 after nine minutes and it took incredible guile and determination for Derby to fight their way back into contention.
Remarkably, they had done that by the half time break, when a Warriors turnover led to a last second basket for Brian Amabilino Perez, which gave Derby a 40-38 lead at the break.
There was still plenty of drama to come though, including four technical fouls and the need for overtime to eventually settle the match.
Chris Taylor led the way with nineteen points and five rebounds, David TinTin Watts enjoyed a sixteen point / ten rebound double-double, Sydney Donaldson added fifteen points and Dan Watts, despite only scoring two points, showed his versatility and value to the team by pulling down seventeen rebounds and dishing off seven assists.
“It was a typical game against Leicester,” admitted Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“They make you slog it out and in the end we just managed to clinch the win. It's always tough against one of Karl Brown's team.
"We didn't play great basketball but we battled hard and having already beaten them three times, twice in really close encounters, we knew it wouldn't be easy.
“We started badly, but a good second quarter got us back into the game. After the first quarter our defence was excellent, we made them work a lot harder for their scores,” he said.
Although Derby were first to score through a David Watts three-pointer, the Trailblazers struggled to find offensive success during the early stages of the first quarter. The Warriors hit twelve points without reply, before a triple from Brian Amabilino sparked a slightly better run.
As a result, Derby closed the gap to 18-12, boosted by four quick points from Barish Salih and a further two from Amabilino.
However, the Warriors closed the opening quarter almost as strongly as they had begun it, with a 9-4 burst to lead 27-16 at the first break.
Whatever words of encouragement Coach Matt Shaw supplied between the first two periods clearly had an effect, as Derby started the second with a three-point play from Taylor.
A pair of free-throws from Oli Stanley followed, along with some brilliant chemistry from the Watts brothers, as Dan found TinTin open for an inside jump-shot, cutting the gap to 27-23.
The first of those technical fouls came after Derby had got the ball back after a Stanley score, only for David Watts to be bizarrely called for an offensive foul.
He was further penalised for his comments and although Warriors missed the free-throw, the former Trailblazers guard Carl Pearson sank a three-pointer off the possession.
Moments later, it was Leicester’s Theo Rothstein who drew the referees attention, with a foul and a technical, from which Amabilino made the initial bonus and Donaldson converted 2/2 after being fouled on the possession.
Derby then closed the second quarter strongly, with a series of free-throws after Leicester committed an astonishing ten fouls in the period, before a fast break from Amabilino gave them a 40-38 lead at the break.
The Trailblazers gradually stretched their lead to 52-45 midway through the period, but that seven point lead was as far as they came in terms of building a lead.
They took a 57-51 lead into the final period of regulation, but Leicester hit back with five straight points to make it a one-point game and only three minutes later, Rothstein had tied the scores at 61-all with a three-pointer.
His triple was the start of an 8-0 burst which put the Warriors 66-61 ahead with three and a half minutes left.
Derby subsequently managed to tie the scores again, thanks to an outrageously off-balance three-pointer by David Watts. Incredibly, he also drew a foul and converted the bonus to make it 68-all with 1’14” left in regulation.
It was then the real drama began. Rothstein was called for his fifth foul on an offensive play and the Warriors Coach Karl Brown received a technical for his protests. However, Derby couldn’t capitalise, as TinTin Watts missed the free-throw and Dan Watts turned the ball over.
Unfortunately, Pearson was then called for a shot clock violation in the face of some fierce Derby defence, but the Trailblazers couldn’t find a winning shot, despite using up their final two time-outs in the last nineteen seconds.
Once into the extra period, it was Derby who stayed calm and focussed, while the Warriors ill-discipline resulted in fouls and yet another technical.
This time it was against Emile Hopkins who kicked the ball off court in frustration, having turned the ball over on the baseline with Derby leading 76-72. That being his fifth foul, he became the second Leicester player to foul out of the game.
The Trailblazers subsequently sank three of six free-throws from a string of visits to the line as the Warriors desperately kept fouling to stop the clock. However, their only consolation came as a three-pointer from Leon Henry, as Derby ground out a 79-75 overtime success.
“Down the stretch, I felt the game could have gone either way, but we made some plays and got some stops, as they did,” commented Coach Shaw.
“We actually had a decent look to win the game in regulation, but unfortunately Dan Watts’ shot didn’t drop.
“Once into the extra period, I thought we took control pretty quickly. Not for the first time this year, Oli [Stanley] made some massive plays in overtime. We are now three of three in overtime this season and that is massive in terms of our league position.
“Chris came into the starting line-up for first time this weekend and I thought he responded really well with two strong displays. Sydney also had a big weekend. He’s been battling with a few knocks but he's still as tough as nails and he knows how to win games,” Shaw said.
Leicester: Rothstein 17, Pearson 11, Powell 11, Francis 10, Henry 7, Hopkins 7, Mills 7, Hambleton 3, William 2, Lewis DNP, Milambo DNP.
Derby: Taylor 19, David Watts 16, Donaldson 15, Stanley 13, B. Amabilino Perez 8, Salih 6, Dan Watts 2, Nelson 0, Wesselingh 0.
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There were three other games on Sunday:
In the U14 Northern Premier League Derby lost 72-49 at home to Sheffield Junior Sharks, while the U14 Midlands Development League, Trailblazers II lost 88-47 at home to Northants Thunder.
There was success for the Mini basketballers though, who comprehensively beat Mapperly Lions 58-2.
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