The Rebels had started their season 0-3 but got into the win column not once but twice this weekend following a perfect double-header.
Derby narrowly squeezed past local rivals Loughborough, whilst Newcastle found a way to edge Leicester as well.
There were also victories for Thames Valley and Reading, with the Cavs putting on a show for the NBL Live cameras to beat Worthing.
There is a recap of all six games below, and each result is also clickable if you wish to view the live stats.
The Cavs moved into a tie with Solent at the top of the D1M table with their sixth win of the season, beating Worthing Thunder 81-77.
The visitors had the better of the first half as they led by six at the main change, up 43-37.
Worthing were able to erase that deficit and build an advantage of their own as the second half wore on, thanks largely to solid play from Cam Hildreth (28pts, 7reb), Max Richardson (14pts, 10reb) and Howard Crawford (13pts, 7reb).
Up by six with 2:51 remaining, Thunder couldn't hold off the charging Cavs as the visitors scored the last 10 points of the game to seal the come from behind victory.
American Taylor Johnson enjoyed five of those late points, finishing with 25 total to go with nine rebounds and a pair of steals. Seth Hawley (22pts, 4reb) also played well, dropping a key triple down the stretch for the new joint leaders.
Essex sprung one of the surprises of the season so far as they travelled to Hemel and knocked off the Storm 97-94.
The Rebels used momentum from a first win of the season on Saturday against Bradford to head out and win on the road, despite the Storm having won four of their first five games.
Ethan Price once again showed why he is one of the most exciting prospects in the country as he poured in 31 for the visitors, including a number of highlight plays.
Greg Poleon led all scorers for Hemel with 34 points, continuing his hot form and keeping the Storm in the contest. The hosts trailed by no more than four points at any quarter break, making for a tight game throughout.
Leading by the eventual final score with 1:10 remaining, Essex couldn't add to their advantage despite multiple late possessions, including a trip to the line for centre Lee Hodges.
However, neither could Hemel, with Levi Noel's on-the-buzzer three failing to find the net after a desperate race up the court.
That left Essex to enjoy a well-earned victory and cap off a two win double-header for coach Norfolk's side.
A 16-point, 13-assist, 11 rebound triple double from Kyle Jimenez wasn't enough for Loughborough to beat Derby, with the Trailblazers coming out on top 77-75.
The Riders led for the vast majority of the contest, including by double digits as the final quarter began, only to drop the final frame 25-12 and lose out late.
Derby's starting five all impressed, led by youngster Blake Bowman's game high 27 points.
Reading used a hot first half to beat Nottingham Hoods 98-79 on the road.
Leading 49-40 at the break following a 32-19 second quarter, the Rockets pulled away further in the third thanks to solid performances from O'Showen Williams (23pts, 4reb, 5ast), Leome Francis and Sam Grant (18pts, 8reb each).
Nottingham were paced once again by Victor Olarerin, who closed on 25 points.
Newcastle moved to 6-2 on the year following a 94-91 win over Leicester.
In a close game that could have gone either way, Ronald Blane's 23 points helped the Knights edge their opponents and keep them winless in 2020/21.
Mo Williams had 36 points in the losing effort for the Warriors, who now head to Nottingham next weekend.
Essex will no doubt draw the plaudits for their victory over Hemel, but they also enjoyed a first win of the season on Saturday as they beat Bradford 101-86.
Sam Newman scored 21 for the hosts, who pushed five other players into double digits on the score board as part of an impressive team effort.
Ricky Fetske scored 21 in reply for the Dragons, who fell behind early and never recovered the rest of the way.
1pm - Loughborough Riders 75-77 Derby Trailblazers - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
2:30pm - Nottingham Hoods 79-98 Reading Rockets - LIVE STATS/LIVESTREAM
3:30pm - Essex Rebels 101-86 Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
4pm - Team Newcastle University 94-91 Leicester Warriors
7pm - Worthing Thunder 77-81 Thames Valley Cavaliers - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
3:30pm - Oaklands Wolves v Loughborough Riders - Postponed
5pm - Hemel Storm 94-97 Essex Rebels - LIVE STREAM
Main image credit - Luke Simcock
16 May 2022
09 May 2022