Division 1, Match Report

Trailblazers start D1 season with impressive victory over Reading

Kayne King - Derby Trailblazers - Drives To The Basket

Derby Trailblazers got the 2018/19 league season off to a perfect start with an impressive away victory over regular division one title challengers Reading Rockets.

Reading Rockets 84 (18, 35, 56)
Derby Trailblazers 94 (22, 50, 68)

A strong start to the game and a dominant second quarter helped the Trailblazers to come away with an 84-94 road victory, to the delight of Derby’s Head Coach Matt Shaw:

“It was great to start the league campaign with a win, especially against a team like Reading on the road,” he said.

“I thought it was an impressive team win with lots of strong performances, but having Oli [Stanley] back from injury and playing so well for us was a huge bonus. In particular, I thought he defended the basket very well indeed.”

Stanley had missed the Trailblazers back to back Trophy wins against Loughborough and Leicester due to a back injury, but he returned to score fifteen points and capture eleven rebounds.

However, it was Malcolm Smith who led the team in scoring for the third game in succession. The American completed a twenty-five point and ten rebound double-double, converting a perfect eleven of eleven at the free-throw line along the way.

Matt Ward-Hibbert added seventeen points, nine of which came in response to Reading’s spirited fight back in the final quarter. Kayne King added eleven points, six rebounds and seven assists, but it was American Tre Wilford who arguably had the best stat line, netting twelve points, ten rebounds, seven steals and six assists.

After a relatively even first few minutes, Derby made their first run midway through the first quarter, as consecutive baskets from Ward-Hibbert, Wilford, Jake Wesselingh and Smith helped them to open up a 12-18 lead.

When Benson Arogbo was called for his third foul after less than eight minutes, things could have become awkward for the Trailblazers, but they didn’t let it worry them and consequently took an 18-22 lead into the first break, helped by four points from Luke Ptak.

They were still leading by four points when Wesselingh was injured as the result of a foul by David Chilver. As the incoming player, King had to go straight to the free-throw line where he sank one of two bonus shots.

That was to be the start of six unanswered points for the Blazers, but their best run in the game came in the two and a half minutes leading up to the half-time break.

A basket from Stanley started a 0-9 burst. Smith followed that up with a pair of free-throws and an offensive put-back and another free-throw.

As the seconds ticked down towards the interval, Derby worked the ball around the key with some style, eventually allowing Wesselingh to find sixteen-year old Blake Bowman, who nailed a buzzer beating shot along the base line to give the Trailblazers a 35-50 lead.

Derby’s lead peaked at eighteen points on three occasions, the second of which was all down to Wilford. He created and converted a three-point play off an offensive rebound and then stole the ball before scoring off an assist by Wesselingh to give his side a 47-65 advantage.

A barrage of three-pointers concluded the third quarter, with Rockets netting three to Derby’s one, thereby cutting the gap to twelve points going into the final quarter.

It was in that final period that Reading’s American guard Trae Pemberton burst into life with an inspirational single-handed fight back. After missing his opening attempt from behind the arc, he quickly found his range, hitting five out of his final six three-point attempts on basket, the last of which brought Rockets to 79-81 with 2’28” remaining.

With only one time-out remaining and Coach Shaw keen to retain that just in case Reading continued their charge, it was up to the players on court to stop the rot without any intervention from the Derby bench and they did it with some style.

A basket from Smith was followed a series of free-throws as Reading repeatedly fouled to stop the clock. Wilford made one of two, before King made two sets of two either side of a pair of points from Ward-Hibbert, to open up a 79-90 lead with 0’37” left on the game clock.

Rockets responded with a triple from Emeka-Anyakwo and a drive from Carr, but Coach Shaw’s final time-out led to a pair of free-throws for Wilford and a steal and a score from Ward-Hibbert to close out a memorable 84-94 away win.

“We managed to get some good scores in transition in the first half,” said Shaw.

“Later in the game, Reading did a good job slowing us down. Maybe we played the scoreboard a little too much in the second half but still found ways to get it done down the stretch.

“We knew they would make some runs in the second half, but we wanted to limit those runs. I thought we did that pretty well with that until [Trae] Pemberton found his range in the final quarter.

“He gave us a real scare for a while, but we managed to respond with some important scores and we also hit our free throws down the stretch which can often be a key factor.

“Overall, I thought we had a lot of guys step up defensively. We took some charges and in spells, we also rebounded the ball much better than we did last weekend,” he said.

Derby return to action next weekend as they travel to division side Liverpool in the third round of the National Cup. Their second team are also in National Cup action, ironically away to Reading Rockets.


Reading: Pemberton 30, Carr 11, Carter 10, Chive 10, Donaldson 8, Emeka-Anyakwo 6, McIndoe 5, A. O’Sullivan 4, R. O’Sullivan 0, Grant DNP, Nosa DNP, Obadiah DNP.

Derby: Smith 25, Ward-Hibbert 17, Wilford 12,  King 11, Wesselingh 8, Ptak 4, Bowman 2, Arogbo 0, Brown 0, Lue DNP.



Saturday 6th October 2018:

D1 Men: Reading Rockets 84 – 94 Derby Trailblazers

U16 Boys Prem: Derby Trailblazers 65 – 71 Trafford Magic

U16 Girls Prem: Luton 43 – 101 Derby Trailblazers

U14 Boys Prem: City of Birmingham Rockets 88 – 70 Derby Trailblazers

U14 Boys EM: Derby Trailblazers II 22 – 100 Derbyshire Spartans

U14 Girls EM: Derby Trailblazers 58 – 18 Tameside Royals White

Sunday 7th October 2018:

D3 Men North: Derby Trailblazers II 86 – 77 Charnwood College

U18 Men EM: Derby Trailblazers II 84 – 90 Ilkeston Outlaws

U16 Boys EM: Derby Trailblazers II 31 – 56 Ilkeston Outlaws

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