Division 1, Match Report

Strong second quarter helps Trailblazers to complete double over Barking Abbey

Derby Trailblazers equalled their best run of results in the season so far, as they recorded their fifth straight win, beating Barking Abbey Crusaders 74-56.

Derby Trailblazers 74 (16, 40, 53)
Barking Abbey Crusaders 56 (12, 25, 39)

After a tight opening quarter, Derby pulled clear of their opponents in a pulsating second quarter which they took 24-13 to open up a 40-25 half time advantage. The Crusaders rallied briefly at the start of the third, but the Trailblazers restored their composure to complete their fourth league double of the season. 

Malcolm Smith led Derby’s efforts with eighteen points, twelve rebounds and two blocks; Matt Ward-Hibbert added sixteen points while Isa Brandon a further fifteen and Oli Stanley did a good job on the boards, collecting ten rebounds. 

Head Coach Matt Shaw felt it was a solid performance from his side: 

“Barking played some tough basketball throughout the game as they always do and they made us scrap for everything. Fortunately, we were able to force a handful of turnovers in the first half which helped us get a lead and I was pretty pleased with our defence throughout.

“We started the second half pretty sloppily, but it was pleasing to see how we responded and returned to the good play we had produced earlier in the game. We forced them to take tough shots once again and that really helped as the game progressed,” he said.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring, with a deep three-pointer from Jonathan Brown. Oli Stanley responded with a dunk via an assist from Tre Wilford. The Crusaders then moved 5-2 ahead before baskets from Smith and Wilford either side of free-throw from Brandon gave Derby their first lead at 7-5. 

The next few minutes were nip and tuck, but after a Derby time-out with two minutes of the first quarter remaining, a score from Ward-Hibbert and an offensive put-back from Brandon gave the Trailblazers a 16-12 advantage at the end of the first period and it was a lead they would never relinquish in the remainder of the game.

The second quarter was unquestionably Derby’s best spell in the match. Back to back scores from Ward-Hibbert got them off and running and prompted an early time-out from Barking Abbey, as they trailed 20-12 with 8’34” on the clock. 

A triple from Chris Feeney was countered by back to back scores from Luke Ptak which opened up a nine point lead, but the Blazers were subsequently pegged back to 26-20 off the back of five points from Kyle Carey. 

However, all that was to quickly change as Smith scored to start a 10-nil burst from the Blazers. Ward-Hibbert scored from inside and out before Ptak added another long range basket, taking the score to 36-20. 

The Crusaders eventually stopped the run with a three-point play from Theo Hughes and a pair of free-throws from Brown, but baskets from Ptak and Stanley ensured Derby took a healthy 40-25 advantage into the break. 

All was looking good for the Trailblazers at that stage, but Barking Abbey came out fighting in the third quarter, netting nine straight points in amidst a string of Derby turnovers. Smith finally managed to get an offensive put-back, but another triple from Feeney took the score to 42-37 and brought about a time-out from Coach Shaw with 4’59” on the clock. 

Whatever was said certainly provoked a response, as a 13-0 burst followed, which included a steal and a coast to coast drive from Smith to restore a sixteen point advantage. Nathanial Powell eventually ended the sequence with the final basket of the quarter for the visitors. 

The Crusaders opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from Flynn Boardman-Raffell, before inside and outside shots from Brandon prompted another time-out from the visitors. 

Robin Bedford sparked something of a rival with a pair of baskets and a free-throw either side of a triple from Jake Wesselingh. However, the Crusaders progress was short lived, as they were punished with a pair of technical fouls, one on Abe Adebayo and the other on Coach Lloyd Gardner, both of whom were protesting about what they felt was an incorrect call. 

The closest Barking Abbey came to causing an upset was when Carey converted a pair of free-throws and then stole the ball to score from open play, taking the score to 62-51, but Derby closed the game out with a 12-5 run which was capped off by a basket from Academy player Blake Bowman, via an assist from Wesselingh. 

Summing up, Coach Shaw was keen to keep things in perspective:  

“It wasn’t the prettiest game but it was another win which keeps our good sequence of results going. However, we will have to step things up against Solent next weekend,” he said.

Derby: Smith 18, Ward-Hibbert 16, Brandon 15, Ptak 9, Stanley 6, Wilford 4, Wesselingh 3, Bowman 2, King 1, Brown 0, Mutemesango 0.

Crusaders: Carey 13, Bedford 12, Feeney 9, Brown 5, Hughes 5, Powell 4, Adebayo 3, Boardman-Raffett 3, Moses 2, St. Hilaire DNP.

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