D1: Trailblazers suffer last gasp anguish at Worthing

 

Worthing Thunder - 93 (18, 56, 78)
Derby Trailblazers - 90 (25, 46, 67)

NBL Men’s Division One

 

A dreadful defensive performance in the second quarter proved costly as Derby Trailblazers suffered an unexpected defeat on the south coast against Worthing Thunder. The home side, who had failed to reach the play-offs, snatched a last gasp victory as Tom Ward drained a pressurised three-pointer with just 2.2 seconds left.

 

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Derby used a double time-out to try and devise a response, but in the face of intense Worthing defence, Chris Taylor’s heavily contested attempt to force overtime with a three-pointer fell well short of the basket.

It was a cruel finish for Derby, for whom Sydney Donaldson had spectacularly tied the scores with an astonishing four point play just thirteen seconds earlier. He somehow converted an off balance three-point attempt and drew a foul from Jack Sunderland, before calmly sinking the bonus shot to make it 90-all.

How Donaldson got the original shot to drop almost defied belief, but Ward’s response was almost as impressive, particularly since the normally sharp-shooting Thunder guard hadn’t made a shot from beyond the arc all night.

Had Derby executed better on defence in the first half, the result could have been very different, but the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw felt the standard of Worthing’s offence on the night meant they were difficult to counter:

“We got into a run and gun game with them and full credit to Worthing, because they simply shot the lights out in the first half. It seemed like we could have maybe done a little better defensively, but it’s tough to deal with a team that goes nine of fourteen from behind the arc in the first half.

 

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“I was pleased with how we responded, working tirelessly in the second half to give ourselves a real chance of winning, but it wasn't to be, because of Ward’s three-pointer,” he said.

The Trailblazers went into the game without David TinTin Watts because of injury, so were led by Chris Taylor, who had his best game since joining the club. Taylor netted 29 points, including nine of ten at the line, to which he added nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Donaldson added nineteen, while Jake Wesselingh had four three-pointers in his 15 point tally, while Oli Stanley had ten points and four rebounds.

“I thought Chris [Taylor] had an excellent game for us. He’s really starting to become able to make things happen at both ends of the floor. George [Calvey] also had a strong game; he gives us a different dimension, which is always useful,” Shaw said.

Derby got off to a good start, with Taylor netting twice as well as dishing off the assist for a Donaldson three-pointer. But from 2-7 down, Worthing suddenly launched a barrage of successful triples from Josh Brown, who quickly took the score to 11-9 in Thunders favour.

However, the Blazers responded well with a 14-7 burst which included a massive dunk from captain Dan Watts, as they closed the first quarter leading 18-25.

The second period was best forgotten from Derby’s perspective. They were outscored 38-21, as Sunderland knocked down fifteen points including a trio of three-pointers, while American forward James Cambronne impressed, with a massive slam dunk amongst his six quick points. As a result, the Trailblazers found themselves trailing 56-46 going into the half time break.

Derby stepped up defensively after the interval, to produce a reasonably even third quarter, although Worthing briefly stretched their lead to 67-53 with 4’20” on the clock. A Trailblazers turnover followed, but fortunately a technical foul on Cambronne gave them the ball back.

Wesselingh converted the bonus shot from the line, before Brian Amabilino struck a triple off the possession, reducing the gap to ten points. A further three-pointer from Wesselingh and a series of free-throws from Taylor saw the deficit reduced to 67-74, before four quick points from Ward restored an eleven point Worthing advantage.

As the final quarter got underway, Derby began to fight back with renewed intensity. An 8-2 start to the period could have been better still, if it hadn’t been blighted by a turnover following an unsportsmanlike foul on Sunderland. Nevertheless, the gap was back to five points and after a solitary free-throw, Taylor’s second triple of the night made it 81-78 with just over six minutes left.

The Blazers kept in contention over the next few minutes, boosted by a pair of triples from Wesselingh and Donaldson, before the latter produced that incredible four-point play to tie the game at 90-all with just fifteen seconds remaining.

The rest was history, as Ward’s triple with 2.2 seconds on the clock left insufficient time for Derby to get a decent shot away, to the disappointment of a rowdy travelling contingent:

“Fair play to Worthing, because after we sneaked past them at home before Christmas, I guess it would have been harsh on them if we'd done it again,” said Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“Worthing always get a large crowd and it's a super venue to play in, just a shame it's such a long journey because I always enjoy going to such a great basketball town. I must also thank the bus load of fans that travelled down to support us.

“I’m sorry we couldn't quite get the job done for them, but at least they were treated to an exciting game of basketball,” he said.

Worthing: Cambronne 27, Ward 19, Sunderland 18, Brown 17, Allen 6, Seduikis 4, Okoronkwo 2, Barbary 0, Kitenge 0, Marshall 0, Tchuako DNP, Williams DNP.

Derby: Taylor 29, Donaldson 19, Wesselingh 15, Stanley 10, B. Amabilino Perez 9, Dan Watts 4, Calvey 4, King 0, Salih 0, David Watts DNP.

 

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The full round up of Saturday results is as follows:
D1 Men: Worthing Thunder 93 – 90 Derby Trailblazers
U18 Men (NPL): Cheshire Wire 53 – 85 Derby Trailblazers
U14 Boys (MDL): Shropshire Warriors 20 – 0 Derby Trailblazers (forfeited)

 

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