Trailblazers let Trophy slip but take step forward in league bid
AFTER a much-needed league win at Moorways, Derby Trailblazers crashed out of the National Trophy away to Essex Leopards.
The holders were soundly beaten 81-59 at Brentwood on Sunday to knock some of the shine off a fine 72-57 defeat of Medway Park Crusaders in VCARS Division One the previous day.
The effort put in to that game and the fact that Leopards did not have a fixture on Saturday does go some way to explaining two starkly different outcomes.
Trailblazers were desperate to stay in contention in the Trophy, having won it so memorably against Bristol last season, but getting into the top eight and making the play-offs in the league is surely higher up their priority list.
Cheap Car Insurance For Drink Drivers -Contact Insure365 01782...View details
Cheap Car Insurance For Drink Drivers -Contact Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Included valued at £25.00
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Friday, June 21 2013
That made the game against Medway Park, who have been hit and miss themselves so far this season, a very important one, especially following the disappointment of the narrow home defeat by Leicester the previous weekend.
Crusaders hit the first four points of the game but after Martyn Gayle opened his account on his way to a game-high 25 points to make it 4-4, Derby led almost all the rest of the way.
Kingsley Okoroh, held scoreless on his debut the previous week, nudged his side ahead for the first time when the 7ft centre put back an offensive rebound and was to give a further glimpse of what he can offer.
As well as his nine points, Okoroh hauled down 14 rebounds and blocked seven shots to keep Crusaders at bay around the boards.
Derby took control with a 20-2 run and a Simon Allaway three-pointer on the buzzer gave them a 25-15 lead at the end of the first period.
Medway Park chipped away at that lead until they went up 33-31 in the last minute of the second and it took two Gayle free shots to send the sides into the interval level.
Crusaders quickly established a five-point lead in a tightly-contested third, which ended with a Gayle triple leaving the home side up 46-44.
Midway through the final quarter, the match was still in the balance but another Gayle three – his fifth – made it 52-52 and sparked a surge from Trailblazers.
A Stedroy Baker three, sandwiched by two more from Nick Rose, left Crusaders chasing the game but they were outscored 23-5 in the last five minutes.
On Sunday, an 8-0 run by Leopards in the opening quarter had them up by 10 and they killed off the game with an 11-1 run to end the second quarter and put themselves 48-24 up at the interval.
Leopards pushed the lead out to 30 points in the third quarter before they took their foot off the gas and cruised the rest of the way.
Essex racked up 19 assists to their opponents' nine, with Greg Hernandez leading them on 14 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Gayle was the game's top scorer with 17 points but attempted 18 shots to get them.
Trailblazers have another key fixture in their bid to reach the league play-offs when Hemel Storm visit Moor-ways on Saturday (7.30pm).
DERBY 72 MEDWAY 57
Derby: Gayle 25, Rose 17, Okoroh 9, Allaway 8, Baker 3, Arogbo 2, Brown 2, Daykin 2, Milambo 2, Smith 2.
Medway: Lual 19, Lufadeju 18, Hobin 8, Volskis 8, Acres 2, Bucknor 2.
ESSEX 81 DERBY 59
Essex: Cummings 15, Hernandez 14, Adu 13, Josey 9, Brown 8, Graham 7, Dunscambe 5, Fontaine 5, Martin 5.
Derby: Gayle 17, Allaway 11, Rose 8, Smith 8, Milambo 6, Brown 4, Okoroh 4, Arogbo 1.