Delighted coach Jonny Kelly paid tribute to three of his key players after Linbraze Derbyshire Arrows had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against London Westside.
Arrows were trailing 73-72 with only 30 seconds remaining against the team propping up the Second Division of the National Men’s Basketball League before dramatic points pulled a 77-73 win out of the bag.
The success kept Arrows clear of the relegation zone, and Kelly chose the aftermath to praise a trio of players who have been at the club since they were at primary school, Andreas Lycoudis, Aidan Dennison and his brother, James Kelly.
He said their loyalty and work ethic were proof that the development system at the club is the best in the area and a surefire recipe for success.
“These young men are role models for the other youngsters starting at the club,” said Kelly. “They are always coaching and giving back. I gave Aidan his first senior start against Westside, and I was pleased to see him secure the result with the final point.
“As for James, I have known him as a brother all my life. We have battled together, growing up on and off the court. I know how much he wants Arrows to win, not only with his skill on the court but also with his advice to the younger players.”
A series of assists from James Kelly, to help impressive star man Joseph Baugh, got Arrows off to a flier in the first quarter. Baugh and Lycoudis accounted for a combined 19 points as they led 25–12.
Despite opening with a three-pointer from Prab Malik, Arrows struggled in the second quarter when Westside’s bigger players began to dominate the rebounds. But James Cusack had a good spell in defence and baskets for Kendal Glapion and Lycoudis meant they still led at the interval, 44–30.
Westside closed the gap to 62-53 in the third quarter when Arrows’ play lacked fluency, and defeat looked on the cards in a tense final quarter.
But with the clock ticking away, Malik beat a man and delivered a crucial three-point shot that nosed them back in front before Baugh was fouled for two free shots that he sank to take his points tally to 26. Youngest player Dennison was then sent to the line with a chance to ice the game and although he missed the first, he made the second.
Arrows are now full of confidence for their tough trip this weekend to play top-of-the-table Nottingham Hoods, who have suffered only one defeat all season.