D1: Trailblazers send Lancashire spinning out of the play-offs
Derby Trailblazers 91 (14, 34, 61)
Manchester Magic 61 (12, 28, 51)
NBL Men’s Division 1
What a difference a season makes! Derby Trailblazers went down 88-64 when they travelled to Lancashire Spinners in the third game of the season. Wind the clock forward seven months and after a tense first half, a 16-nil run in the third coupled with an 18-nil burst in the fourth helped Derby to an emphatic 91-61 victory over the Spinners.
It was Lancashire’s lowest points total of the season and came as veteran big man Mike Bernard was restricted to just eight points, while three-point specialist Mark Rangeley was held scoreless.
In contrast, David TinTin Watts led the Trailblazers with thirty points and thirteen rebounds, while Oli Stanley completed a thirteen point and fifteen rebound double-double and Chris Taylor chipped in with another thirteen points.
With Sydney Donaldson and Dan Watts both adding a further nine points each, Derby ensure their was a good split to their points scoring, something which the Spinners found difficult to contend with at the defensive end.
The Trailblazers also dominated on the glass, pulling down a staggering 57 rebounds to Lancashire’s 36, with Stanley in particular being a beast at the offensive end, where he pulled down eight of his fifteen rebounds.
Derby’s Head Coach Matt Shaw was delighted with what he described as a fantastic performance:
“I thought we were focused and positive most of the night and to hold them to just 61 points was a huge achievement. We made life difficult for them by playing a few different defences and we looked good most of the time at that end of the court, where we played with a lot of energy.
“I was pleased with the tempo we played with throughout. Although we didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half, we moved it around quickly, made decent extra passes and got some good looks, which unfortunately weren’t dropping.
“During the break, we said we felt our luck in that respect ought to change and it certainly did. Credit to the lads though, because despite not shooting well early on, we still took a small break into the interval.
“Ollie [Stanley] made some really big plays on the offensive glass and I thought as a team we rebounded the ball really well throughout the game,” he said.
Derby began the game in rampant style, racing to a 9-0 lead and forcing a Lancashire time-out after less than four minutes. The highlights included a three-point from Stanley, a coast-to-coast drive from Donaldson and the first of many offensive put-backs for Stanley.
The Spinners responded with six straight points as they steadily worked to reduce the gap to 14-12 by the close of the first quarter. Derby started the second with a triple from TinTin, but were subsequently held back for a while, as the visitors produced their best spell of the game.
Five points from Cian Hickey and back-to back threes from Steven Gayle saw them take a 17-23 lead with 6’13” on the clock. Derby fought hard to get redress the damage, with no-less than five offensive rebounds before Dan Watts was fouled by Bernard, with the Trailblazers captain calmly sinking both shots.
That was the start of a 17-5 run which put Derby 34-38 ahead at the break, but the final play of the quarter almost defied belief.
With two seconds on the shot clock and only three left in the half, Dan Watts launched a three-point attempt, which rimmed back off the front of the metalwork. It was caught by an off-balance Taylor, who instinctively shot the ball and was probably as stunned as anyone to see it swish through the hoop just as the buzzer sounded!
Lancashire had another strong spell early in the third, when a 9-2 burst allowed them to tie the scores at 41-41 all, but consecutive scores from Stanley ended their resurgence and formed the start of a 16-0 run for the Blazers.
Highlights within the run included a triple from Taylor and a huge slam-dunk from TinTin Watts, who followed it up with a jump shot and a three-pointer of his own. The Spinners eventually found their rhythm again and closed the third quarter with a 10-4 response, but Derby still took a 61-51 lead into the final ten minutes.
After an early exchange of baskets, the Trailblazers put the game well and truly to bed with another emphatic run, converting eighteen points without reply as they raced to an unassailable 84-55 lead with three minutes remaining.
“In many ways the final score line doesn't tell the whole story of the game,” commented Derby’s Head Coach Matt Shaw.
“It was a close affair for three quarters and the Spinners made us work really hard. They've been a great addition to the league this year and like us, they play a blend of Academy guys along with some older players. ”Late on, we just managed to get on one of those runs. TinTin [David Watts] got hot like we know he can and everyone else was chipping in with steals, assists, stops and scoring too.
“It was a great team effort and I'm delighted to be through to the semi final, where we face Reading Rockets, who are a vastly talented team that has won many Trophies in recent years.
“We had a virtually full house for the quarter final tie at ‘The Wigg’ on Saturday night and the crowd were extra noisy. They really helped us and we will hopefully benefit from that once again next weekend,” he said.
The semi-final tie will take place at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall on either Saturday 9th or Sunday 10th April, with details to be confirmed as soon as possible.
Derby: David Watts 30, Stanley 13, Taylor 13, Dan Watts 9, Donaldson 9, B. Amabilino Perez 4, Calvey 4, Salih 3, A. Amabilino Perez 2, King 2, Wesselingh 2, Nelson 0.
Spinners: Gayle 21, Carey 15, Bernard 8, Hickey 7, Vaughan 6, Estrada 2, Murtagh 2, Darling 2, Rangeley 0, Roberts 0, Tordoff 0.
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In other games, the U18 Men completed their regular season with a 92-72 away win at Leeds Allerton High School Force. They have to travel to Peckham Pride for next weekend’s play-off quarterfinal.
And the U16 Boys used overtime to power past York Eagles and book their place in the U16 Development League Quarter Finals. After being tied at 71-all after regulation, the Derby Boys took the extra period 22-8, to seal a 93-79 away win.
They will be at home to Leicester Dynamite in next weekend’s quarterfinal.
Dates and tip-off times for all three of the above games will be confirmed as soon as possible.
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