Brixton Topcats slipped to another agonisingly close defeat this Saturday, losing 82-77 at Derby Trailblazers.
Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Topcats were slow out of the blocks, going 9-1 down in the first three minutes. But the Topcats bounced back to close the first quarter down 16-12 thanks to some good inside scores from Papa Demba Kasse and Tom Adorian.
The Topcats asserted themselves better in the second quarter, and went into the halftime break tied 36-36 with their hosts. For Derby, guard Rishi Kakad was proving unstoppable from long range as he sunk 7 three-pointers in the first half. Brixton’s offensive scoring was noticeably balanced with Demba Kasse, Adorian, Arturo Noha and Sam Toluwase all scoring in double figures on the night.
The game stayed very tight in the third quarter with Kakad’s scoring supported by the likes of Martin Gayle and Mark Woodhouse. Brixton continued to dominate the rebounds with Demba Kasse and Adorian out rebounding the entire Derby team on the night. Scoring wise, Noha and Toluwase lead the way in the 3rd with Nathan Ashley and Uche Umweke also contributing crucial scores from the bench. After three quarters the Topcats trailed 58-57.
The fourth quarter was a tense affair as both teams made scores under pressure, but also made some sloppy turnovers. With five minutes to play, the Trailblazers held a one-point lead, and the lead changed hands several times over the next three minutes (and 16 times total on the night). Adorian collected an offensive rebound and drove baseline for a dunk for Brixton, but Kakad continued to make tough baskets at the other end for Derby on
his way to a game high 42 points. Toluwase and Noha showed leadership for the Topcats to come up with important baskets at crucial times.
In the final 90 seconds a scrappy Derby offence resulted in Martin Gayle finding himself with the ball, six feet behind the three point line and, just a couple of seconds on the shot clock. He connected with his speculative shot to open up a point gap and leave Brixton needing to foul the home team to stop the clock and regain possession. Kakad and ex-Brixton player Stedroy Baker were able to convert their free throws to see Derby over the finish line.