Match Report

Trailblazers hopes of victory blown off track by Storm

For the second day in succession, Derby Trailblazers were short of personnel for what would be their final game of the 2017/18 season. Leome Francis returned from illness and Jrae Lue was also available, but the late rescheduling of the match meant Coach Matt Shaw was without the services of Leighton Elliott-Sewell, due to working commitments.

Hemel Storm 116 (36, 62, 96)
Derby Trailblazers 93 (23, 48, 72)

Despite his illness earlier in the week, Francis produced on of his best performances for the Trailblazers, finishing with 26 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

Kayne King also led by example, demonstrating just how much his game has developed over a difficult season. The former junior and Academy graduate scored 25 points, sixteen of them from the free-throw line as Hemel repeatedly found the need to foul him.

“I thought Kayne carried the team really well,” commented the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“I’m pretty sure that’s his highest score in D1 and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player shoot 23 free-throws in a game before. He’s been a real bright spark in what has been a disappointing season for us.

He’s increased his ability to score and added to the ways in which he can score, whilst at the same time, he’s become the leading provider of assists in the league which is difficult to do,” he said.

Kadeem Thompson added 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Oli Stanley produced another solid performance, with 17 points and seven rebounds.

However, the depth of Hemel’s bench meant that Derby were always likely to find things difficult, particularly given the short turnaround between a late finish on Saturday in Bradford and an early Sunday afternoon tip-off in Hertfordshire.

“A lot of the guys were really tired with the game coming so quickly off the back of Bradford,” Shaw admitted.

“That said, I thought Leome did really well because he’d been ill for most of the week, but he didn’t let that show. We stuck at it and gave ourselves a chance, but Hemel are really tough. They had six guys in double figures and although we fought hard, we couldn’t find sufficient ways to stop them from scoring,” he said.

After winning the jump-ball, Derby too the lead as Stanley scored the opening basket via an assist from King, but it was the only time they would lead in the match. AJ Roberts netted from downtown and then from close range and the Blazers had turned the ball over.

Further three-pointers from Roberts and Bode Adeluola were followed by a jump-shot from Roberts and not surprisingly, Derby were forced to call an early time out, trailing 13-2 with 7’53” of the first quarter remaining.

The run was halted by Thompson, who after a response from Adeluola, also converted from downtown to cut the gap to 17-10. However, that was as close as they would get in the remainder of a high-scoring opening quarter.

The second quarter was much better from Derby’s perspective, as they matched their opponents pretty much point by point, going in 62-48 down at the half-time break.

Unfortunately, the Storm’s third quarter performance was as good as that which they produced in the opening quarter. After Francis briefly cut the gap to ten points, Hemel set off on another big run, boosted by a technical foul on Jake Wesselingh.

It helped them to go on a 10-0 burst and prompt another Derby time-out with 5:36 on the clock and the Blazers 76-55 in arrears. Once again, the sequence was halted, this time with a jump shot from Stanley, but Derby could make no inroads into the twenty-point cushion which Hemel had accumulated.

The home side were 96-72 ahead going into the final quarter and although the Trailblazers took the final period 21-20, it was too little too late, with the 2017/18 season being consigned to the history books after a 116-93 away defeat.

“It’s been a difficult season for us,” admitted Coach Shaw.

“Whilst we’ve not had a winning season, there has been a lot of learning for both players and coaches alike. Hopefully we will see the dividends of that paying off in future seasons.

“Some of our players will no doubt move on, whilst others will remain, but we know we need to recruit better for next season and hopefully we can look forward to a much better season next time around,” he said.

Scorers

Hemel: Adeluola 20,  Adorian 20, Roberts 16,  Yeboah 13, Darlow 10, Duru 10, Greenan 10, Brown 7, Mumuni 4, Van-Beest 4, Donegal 2.

Derby: Francis 26, King 25, Thompson 18, Stanley 17, Chilver 4, Wesselingh 3, Lue 0, Bowen DNP.

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