Match Report

Trailblazers lose out against Hoods in nail-biting season opener

TreShawn Wilford with the Impressive Alley Oop

Derby Trailblazers let a strong opening period go to waste, as they suffered a narrow defeat in their opening National Trophy game of the 2018/19 season. The match finished 83-85 in favour of the visiting Nottingham Hoods, who were playing their first game at this level after earning promotion from division two last season.

Derby Trailblazers 83 (24, 43, 68)
Nottingham Hoods 85 (14, 43, 68)

Matt Ward-Hibbert was in blistering form early on, scoring twelve of his 21 points in the opening quarter as he converted all but one of his attempts on basket. New American guard TreShawn Wilford also impressed, finishing the night with 20 points, fourteen rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Captain Oli Stanley also completed a double-double of fifteen points and eleven rebounds, while Benson Arogbo finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists on his first game back in the UK following four years at University in America.

Nottingham were led by 24 points from Delaney Powell, while former Derby forward David TinTin Watts bagged a double-double of 20 points and eleven rebounds.

For Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw, it was a frustrating result:

“It’s never nice to lose a game, but I felt there were plenty of positives to take from it. It was a great crowd too and hopefully they’ve seen enough to keep them coming back,” he said.

The Blazers went into the game without the second American Malcolm Smith. The 2016/17 League MVP is still waiting for his registration to be completed, but it’s fair to say he will make a difference, given how well he has played in his two years with Team Northumbria.

Derby got off to a great start, surging to a 21-7 lead off the back of twelve consecutive points from Ward-Hibbert. He included a trio of three-pointers in the run, the last of which came off a coast to coast move which started as he collected a defensive rebound.

The Hoods responded with a 7-2 burst, before Derby rallied to close the opening period 28-14 ahead off the back of a three-point play by Arogbo, and a full-court assist which led to a score for Blake Bowman.

The opening exchanges of the second quarter were evenly matched, before a dunk from Andrej Slavik sparked the visitors into life. It was the start of a 1-7 run and although Derby responded with an 8-2 burst, it was Nottingham who finished the stronger.

Their 9-0 sequence up to half time featured six points from Watts and a three-pointer from James as they tied the scores at 43-all.

With both sides stepping up their defensive intensity somewhat, the third quarter was tied at 15-all, but there was one play which was worthy of the admission price alone.

Having been fouled by Watts, while completing a fast break via an assist from Brown, Wilford was presented with an and-one opportunity.

Following a Hoods time-out, the Blazers new American missed his bonus shot, but subsequently sent the crowd into raptures as he careered down the lane, grabbed his own offensive rebound and produced a spectacular left-handed slam dunk!

All of which meant there was everything to play for in the final ten minutes and four consecutive free-throws from Kayne King helped Derby to establish a 76-72 lead with 6’45” remaining. That should have put them into a game winning situation, but it sadly wasn’t to be.

A lay-up from Slavik and a three-pointer from Watts put the visitors ahead by one and despite a basket from Stanley for the Blazers, Hoods then went on another run.

A three-point play from Tom Ballantine was followed by a steal from Luke Mitchell and after being fouled, he sank a pair of free-throws to give his side a 78-82 lead with 1’51” remaining.

Both sides then missed opportunities to score before Stanley made it 80-82 with 22 seconds left. Nottingham called time-out and after turnovers from both sides, Powell scored to increase Hoods lead to four point and pile the pressure on Derby.

Coach Shaw took his final time-out with twenty seconds remaining and Wilford gave the Trailblazers hope with a stunning three-pointer from the top of the key, but was subsequently called for his fifth foul as Nottingham attempted a fast break.

This time, Mitchell could only sink one of two at the line, meaning Derby had a chance to force overtime or win the game, but King’s shot didn’t drop, meaning it was the visitors who secured the result to the delight of their players and travelling support.

Summing up, Derby’s Head Coach Matt Shaw was left trying to see the positives:

“It was pleasing to see how Charlie [Brown] and Blake [Bowman] handled their first game at this level. I thought they both did very well and showed composure beyond their years.

“It was certainly heart breaking stuff at the end and I just wish we could have got over the line, but unfortunately, we made some poor turnovers at crucial moments and that cost us.

“However, I really liked the way we battled and I think we will improve a lot in the coming weeks,” he said.

Derby complete their National Trophy pool matches next weekend, as they travel to Loughborough Riders on Saturday (6pm) and Leicester Warriors on Sunday (3pm).


Derby: Ward-Hibbert 21, Wilford 20, Stanley 15, Arogbo 9, Wesselingh 6, Bowman 4, King 4, Brown 2, Essel-Jaji 0, Mutemesango DNP, Ptak DNP.

Nottm: Powell 24, Watts 20, Maher 11, Ballantine 10, Mitchell 8, Slavik 4, Brownell 3, James 3, Wright 2, Williams 0, Olarerin DNP.



In Division Three North, Trailblazers II began their season with a 93-73 home win over the University of Chester. Merson Paul led the scoring with 26 points, Ashley Ugo added 25 and Blake Bowman had eleven.

Elsewhere, the U18 Men beat Derbyshire Spartans 77-80; the U16 Boys (Prem) lost 43-87, while the U16 Girls wend down 61-47 at Oaklands Wolves.

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