Week 4 is now completed and Team Solent Kestrels sit atop the standings unaccompanied. The Kestrels 4-0 record is the only unbeaten one in the division as two sides are still searching for their first win. Here's a recap of all the action from the 19 & 20 October.
Hemel suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday as the fell 97 -71 to Derby Trailblazers at Clarence Wiggins.
After a relatively even and high scoring opening quarter, the hosts began to adjust their game plan to slow Hemel down. Taking the final frame 28-11 allowed the Trailblazers to extend their lead and provide a comfortable final score.
Derby shared the load on offence, with six different players all making it to double digits. Oli Stanley and Malcolm Smith led the way with 17 points as both players controlled the glass (11 and 12 rebounds respectively) to finish with double-doubles. Treshawn Wilford (14 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Jake Wesselingh (16 points), Blake Bowman (11 points) and Johde Campbell (11 points) all contributed.
Current D1M Player of the Week Lee Hodges still enjoyed a productive game for the Storm, scoring 17 points to go with nine rebounds but was largely kept in check. Michael Williams had a team high 19 points for the visitors on a day when Sam Newman just couldn't find a rhythm, going 0-12 from the floor but still recording seven rebounds and seven assists.
There was a first win of the season for newly promoted Liverpool as they beat Barking Abbey 84 - 79. Scoring just 7 points in the 3rd quarter was tough to overcome for the visitors, who led for the majority of the 1st half. Despite staging a comeback late in the 4th, it wouldn't be enough as BA joined Liverpool at 1 - 3. Captain Jack Hudson was impressive for Liverpool, recording an 18 point, 10 rebound double-double to go with eight assists and four steals. EABL standout Chris Feeney had a game high 27 points from the visitors.
Jon Johnson's 17 point, 13 rebound double-double and 20 points from former Essex man Justin Hitchman were enough to help Westminster past Essex & Herts Leopards 92 - 84. The Warriors led for pretty much the entirety of the contest, though the Leopards were within touching distance of drawing back level during both the 3rd and 4th quarters. They couldn't find that key basket though despite Hafeez Abdul continuing his solid early season form to finish with 24 points and 8 rebounds.
Thames Valley continued their push towards the top of D1M with a 90 - 76 home win over Worthing Thunder. 26 points for Taylor Johnson on an 11/13 shooting performance and an impressive 19 points and 14 rebounds from Abdoulaye Sylla were too much for Worthing, as Zaire Taylor (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Cam Hildreth (19 points, eight rebounds, four assists) top scored for the Thunder.
Solent maintained their perfect record with another emphatic win, this time beating Leicester Warriors 112 - 56. Understandably a number of Kestrels recorded solid performances in the contest, with Ian Smith (25 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, two steals) the pick of the bunch.
Loughborough grabbed an impressive road win as they outlasted Bradford Dragons 82 - 77. Racing out to a 30-19 lead after 1, the Riders then had to hold off the Dragons as they came charging back to tie with 2:16 remaining. Coach Jarram's side held their nerve though to regain the advantage and seal the win. Rihards Sulcs shot 6/7 to finish with 18 points, four rebounds and six assists for the Dragons as Rasheed Worrell recorded a big double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds for Loughborough.
Nottingham Hoods are still searching for their 1st win of the season after going down 98 - 85 in Reading on Sunday. Losing the opening quarter 30 - 16 put the Midlands side in a hole, but they battled back from the double digit deficit to lead at the half. The Hoods' slow start would be replicated in the 3rd quarter though as the Rockets once again pull away, this time for good. Nick Richards played all 40 minutes, scoring 26 of Reading's points to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
Matt Shaw, Derby Trailblazers head coach: “I thought the lads were fantastic, particularly on defence. We really worked hard on limiting their opportunities and made life really difficult for Hemel. They didn’t have a great shooting night, but I think our guys must take some credit for that. After they took an early lead, we switched to a zone defence and tried to use our length and I think it worked well."
Chris Mellor, Bradford Dragons head coach: “We didn’t turn up first half and they played well but, in the end, it was very disappointing not to close out the game having come back from 25 down to tie the game with two to go.”
Alan Keane, Reading Rockets head coach: “Sunday’s win was pleasing against a talented and hard working Nottingham outfit and we have taken a lot of positives from the performance. However, another poor second quarter by our standards does need to be addressed if we are to perform at the highest level and be competitive at the top end of the table as well as on a consistent basis."
Tom Baker, Essex & Herts Leopards head coach: “For the second week in a row we’re in a basketball game competing and making it tough for the opposition, however, we are unable at the moment to close games out."
5:00pm – Liverpool 84 - 79 Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS
5:30pm – Westminster Warriors 92 - 84 Essex & Herts Leopards - LIVE STATS
6:00pm – Thames Valley Cavaliers 90 - 76 Worthing Thunder - LIVE STATS
6:00pm – Team Solent Kestrels 112 v 56 Leicester Warriors - LIVE STATS
6:15pm – Bradford Dragons 77 v 82 Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS
7:15pm – Derby Trailblazers 97 - 71 Hemel Storm - LIVE STATS
5:00pm – Reading Rockets 98 v 85 Nottingham Hoods - LIVE STATS
Another seven fixtures sit on the D1M schedule for next week, including Team Solent hitting the road to play Westminster and Derby going up against Midlands' rivals Nottingham Hoods.
Elsewhere, Thames Valley host Leicester, Worthing take a trip to Loughborough to face the Riders and Bradford look to bounce back against Liverpool.
Sunday's fixtures see Hemel travel to play the winless Essex & Herts Leopards and Reading Rockets host Barking Abbey.
Main image credit - David Amabilino