Nechells Sports Centre – Saturday 10 January

The latest CoB mens home match was against a Derby Trailblazers team occupying 3rd place – the least CoB are likely to require to make the end of season play-offs. COB had won the reverse fixture in October, but the visitors arrived on the back of consecutive wins including a century of points in their last match, so defensive concentration was essential.

However that appeared absent in the opening minutes, the scoreboard showing CoB 4-9 down as I arrived (5 minutes late – New Year, but some things never change. The queue at Brantano’s January sale accounted for it this time, I picked up a smart new pair of work shoes as it happens.)

By the time I’d taken my son to the gents’ and entered the hall however, it was suddenly 11-9 in CoB’s favour, so I made a mental note to take him for another bathroom break at the interval if our team happened to fall behind again.

And after scoring only one of his first three free throws, Derby’s Monk’s prayers were answered as he converted all of his next three. But the opposition had travelled with a relatively young squad of just eight players, and CoB captain Danny Williams was in authoritative mood, converting 10 points in the first quarter alone to keep the lead, the hosts going in with a promising 20-12 lead after the first quarter.

I used the break to find some seats amongst what appeared to be the team’s largest crowd of the season, generating a fantastic atmosphere to spur the team on in the second quarter. Sheridan, sporting a well groomed post-festive beard, provided energy throughout. And CoB started to show some defensive mettle, allowing Derby just one basket from open play in the period, the remainder of their points coming from free throws.

Offensively, Catlow got in on the act, matching Williams’ tally from the first quarter, his new lime green soles helping him to match his performances in the pink boots last year. The half ended with Malcolm hitting his second 3-pointer of the match, and CoB’s sixth, helping CoB to go in with a commanding 56-25 lead at the break.

The players could have been forgiven for being distracted by the impressive half time entertainment, provided by the girls of the Body Beat dance school. Luckily only the visitors appeared to capitulate.

The third quarter was again decisive, this time ending the match as a contest. A flurry of points from Cameron Wright allowed Coach Wilson the luxury of swapping all five players half-way through the quarter.

The Trailblazers were captained by their number 15, Henderson, his own distinctive (if less groomed) facial fuzz in keeping with the somewhat agricultural performance by the boys from the Dales.

Birmingham’s replacements carried on the good work, Malcolm and Franklin adding to a three pointer from another under 18 recruit, David Fodder, after a well rehearsed training routine (apparently). The youngster replaced onlooking regular Jordan Dawes, who I was informed was unavailable for the match due to being suspended. (Although they didn’t look like suspenders to me, just very ripped jeans). The quarter ended with lead extended to 81-38.

To their credit, both teams gave their best efforts to entertain in the final period. Williams’ over-hit long pass was sandwiched by two slam dunks (my, that guy can jump), while Derby rallied to score five 3-pointers, three from Monk. However a technical foul (for bad language I gather) for Henderson saw the Tractordrivers forced into a change, and saw Birmingham creep towards triple digits for the game. I confidently assured my little’n that the score would hit 100 in a couple of minutes, it seemed that I only succeeded in putting a curse on it though, the match ending stuck on 98-56 – I should have taken the kid for a wee.

Top scorers were Williams and Malcom with 12 apiece and Catlow with 11.

The victory, which sees CoB leapfrog Derby into 3rd place, was a vital one in view of upcoming fixtures – CoB away at unbeaten Doncaster Danum Eagles next Saturday whilst Derby face league leaders Loughborough Student Riders II, who then visit Nechells a week later. See you there!