Division 1, Match Report

Trailblazers defeat Warriors to gain speedy revenge for recent defeat

Derby Trailblazers gained quick revenge for the 87-86 overtime defeat they suffered at the hands of Leicester Warriors two weeks ago, as they eased towards a 92-79 away victory. 

Leicester Warriors 79 (06, 29, 52)
Derby Trailblazers 92 (19, 44, 69) 

Key to their success was their ability to hold the Warriors scoreless for almost ten minutes in the latter stages of the first quarter and into the second period. It meant Derby were able to advance the score from 6-6 to 25-6 and thereby put themselves into a potential match winning position. 

However they did have to withstand a fourth quarter fight back, which saw the home side trim the gap to just eight points with three and half minutes remaining. 

Derby’s teamwork was exemplary. They had four players in double figures and another pair with eight points. Rebounding was shared just as effectively, with four players collecting eight or more boards, as the Trailblazers won the battle on the glass 49-39. 

But perhaps the most astounding statistic of all concerned distribution of the ball, where Derby dished off a staggering thirty-one assists, with Kayne King leading the way with 12, ahead of Tre Wilford (7) and Malcolm Smith (5). 

Smith led the team with 29 points and ten boards, to which he added five assists, four steals and two blocks. 

New signing Isa Brandon, whose registration was only completed on the morning of the game, delivered 20 points, 9 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. 

Matt Ward-Hibbert finished with 12 points and two assists, while Wilford finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals. King and Benson Arogbo both scored eight points, with the former also having eight rebounds to go with his plethora of assists. 

Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw was delighted with the result, describing it as a much needed victory for the club:

“We certainly needed that after our run of recent results. Leicester are always tough and although we started really well we knew it would be a battle to the end. 

“The good start really set the tone for the game right from the opening tip and I thought we did a great job of limiting their runs in the second half. 

“We played some excellent team basketball for the most part and I think thirty-one assists is a season high for us and that was crucial to our success. 

“We also did a better job on the defensive glass than we have in result weeks, with everyone chipping in and playing their part. 

“It was pleasing to see Isa Brandon come off the bench and make such a positive impact. He did a nice job of fitting in with the team and buying into how the guys play,” he said.

Derby led the contest from start to finish, after Wilford got them off and running via an assist from Blake Bowman, who was making his first appearance in the starting five. Warriors briefly tied the scores through Elhji Jabby at 4-4 and 6-6, but that was as close as they would come.  

What followed could hardly have been predicted, especially given the usual tight nature of local derbies. However, the Trailblazers went on an incredible scoring blitz, while simultaneously preventing the Warriors from adding to their tally. 

Brandon scored with his first touch of the ball and quickly added a three-pointer, with both shots coming courtesy of assists from Smith. It was the start of a 19-0 run which completely transformed the game as Warriors were held scoreless from 5’45” in the first quarter until 6’08” in the second, when Jabby finally broke the rot with a lay-up. 

Triples from Martyn Gayle and Pak Chingombe prompted a Derby time-out and the Blazers domination of the game quickly resumed.  

Derby’s biggest leads came midway through the third, when a Ward-Hibbert three-pointer put them 57-24 ahead and then again when Smith made it 59-36 after a response from Lamin Willan had reduced the gap. 

Back to back triples from Raphell Thomas-Edwards, who finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds quickly trimmed that deficit, but Derby were still able to take a 69-52 lead into the final quarter, which is where things got juts a little uncomfortable for the Blazers. 

Thomas-Edwards opened the scoring with a triple, but the gap remained in the mid to high teens for some time. However, a triple from Alex Wilson, a lay-up from Thomas-Edwards and four points for Willan completed a 9-1 run which took the score to 77-69 with 3’37” remaining. 

Derby needed a response and it came from Smith, who hit six of the points in an 8-2 run which went a long way to securing the win. 

There was still time for Brandon to finish the game in style with a three-pointer and an alley-oop courtesy of an Arogbo assist, as the Trailblazers completed a pleasing and much needed 92-79 away victory.

Warriors: Thomas-Edwards 26, Willan 18, Gayle 11, Wilson 9, Jabby 6, Chigombe 5, Pollock 2, Pearson 2, Bethune 0, Johnson 0, Lewis 0, Milambo DNP.

Derby: Smith 29, Brandon 20, Ward-Hibbert 12, Wilford 11, Arogbo 8, King 8, Stanley 4, Bowman 0, Brown DNP, Mutemesango DNP, Ptak DNP. 

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