Division 1, Match Report

Trailblazers use strong second half performance to beat Riders

Malcolm Smith - Derby Trailblazers - Drives To The Basket

Derby Trailblazers made the short trip to Loughborough University knowing nothing short of two wins over the weekend would give them a chance of reaching the knock out stage of the Men’s National Trophy.

Loughborough Riders 78 (21, 43, 53)
Derby Trailblazers 83 (18, 36, 55)

They were not expecting an easy task, going up against the reigning division one champions and a side which Derby had failed to beat in the tortuous 2017-18 season. However, a dominant second half performance saw them overcome the odds to pick up their first win of the current campaign.

Malcolm Smith impressed on his Trailblazers debut, scoring a game high thirty-four points, to which he added ten rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Matt Ward-Hibbert converted seven of 12 three-point attempts on his way to thirty points, while Tre Wilford finished with twelve points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The Trailblazers went into the game without captain Oli Stanley, who was still feeling the effects of an ankle injury sustained in the season opener at home to Nottingham Hoods, but the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw felt his players compensated well:

“With Oli out with an ankle injury, it meant we had to really battle hard around the basket. I think we did that really well for the most part with everyone chipping in,” he said.

However, Stanley’s absence meant Derby were heavily out-rebounded 54-41, but good ball handling helped redress that balance. The Trailblazers committed just seventeen turnovers compared to Loughborough’s twenty-eight, resulting in nineteen useful points.

Derby started the game well, as Wilford struck from outside the arc off an assist from Benson Arogbo. A response from Lucius Christofis briefly tied the scores, before Ward-Hibbert converted a three-point play and knocked down a three-point attempt to lead 3-9.

The Blazers continued to stretch their advantage and when Kayne King made one of two at the line, the lead was up to 10-18 with 3’33” left in the first quarter. However, more than five minutes elapsed before Derby troubled the scorers again, during which time Loughborough had added nineteen points to lead 29-18.

The somewhat alarming sequence was eventually halted by Ward-Hibbert, whose fourth three-pointer of the game came courtesy of a Wilford assist.

Derby battled hard to trim the deficit, with Smith particularly effective, netting half of the points in an 8-16 run which cut the gap to 37-34 with 2’45” left before half-time. However, Loughborough concluded the quarter with a 6-2 to lead by seven at the break.

The Riders started strongly in the third, stretching their lead to 51-40 before Smith hit seven of the points in a 0-11 burst which tied the game with 3’50” on the third quarter clock. Kyle Jimenez halted the sequence, but Smith quickly converted a three-point play to give Derby the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.

The American then hit all nine of the Trailblazers points in a 6-9 run which spanned the third quarter break and took the score to 57-60, before Ward-Hibbert then knocked down a pair of three-pointers either side of a lay-up from Hosana Kitenge.

A further triple from Ward-Hibbert made it 64-71 with 5’10” remaining, but the shooting guard wasn’t finished yet.

After scores from Niall Harris for Loughborough and Wilford for Derby, Ward-Hibbert added another four points. Smith then netted a pair of free-throws to give the Blazers their biggest lead of the game, at 66-79 with 1’20” remaining.

Although Loughborough completed the game with a 12-4 run, Derby had done enough to pick up their first win of the 2018/19 season, to the relief of Head Coach Matt Shaw:

“It was pleasing to see how we come back from a terrible second quarter. The guys were able to find ways to respond to what Loughborough were doing and I thought we really stepped up defensively in the second half.

“Matt [Ward-Hibbert] shot the ball incredibly well, made some big plays at crucial times. In the second half particularly we managed to get Malcolm [Smith] the ball in the sort of spots where he needs it and he delivered for us,” he said.


Riders: Christofis 19, Forsyth 13, Harris 10, Kitenge 8, Guwa 6, Jimenez 6, Dieterich 4, Pinnock 4, Roberts 4, Yome 4, Panaretakis 0, Damerun DNP.

Derby: Smith 34, Ward-Hibbert 30, Wilford 12, Arogbo 4, Wesselingh 2, King 1, Bowman 0, Brown 0, Lue 0, Stanley DNP.



Full results from Saturday 29th September 2018:

D1 Men Trophy: Loughborough Riders 78 – 83 Derby Trailblazers

U16 Girls: Derby Trailblazers 39 – 58 Sheffield Hatters

U14 Boys Prem: Northants Titans 63 – 58 Derby Trailblazers

U14 Boys EM: Mansfield Giants 97 – 28 Derby Trailblazers

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