Disappointment in Derby

Leopards saw their four game winning streak end as they went down 102-93 at Derby Trailblazers, on Saturday.
Thomas Baker’s side again found former Division One MVP Malcolm Smith too hot to handle as he finished with 38 points and five rebounds to lead his side to a second win of the season against the Big Cats.
The visitors trailed for most of the game, but stayed in touch until the final stages when the hosts wrapped up the win.
Sam Newman and Lee Hodges each finished with double-doubles, the former scoring 19 points and taking 10 rebounds while Hodges had 16 points and 12 boards. Rory Winter had 15 points off the bench Asante Sandiford marked his birthday with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Hodges did the early damage as he scored Leopards’ first four points to give them an early lead, but five straight Mathew Ward-Hibbert points launched a 7-0 run from the home side.
A hot spell from three-point land saw Sandiford, Newman and Winter put the Big Cats up by two, and Newman’s dunk tied the score at 25 with 20 seconds remaining before Smith’s pair at the foul line saw his side go into the first break with a 27-25 lead.
Chuck Duru tied things with a pair at the foul line before and-ones from Hodges and Winter saw Leopards take a 33-27 lead after 90 seconds of second period action.
Trailblazers responded with a 6-0 run, and that set the tone for the rest of the period as the teams exhanged baskets for the rest of the half, and Hodges tied things at the line before Wilford’s lay-up gave Derby a 46-44 lead going into the locker room.
The third period proved to be the key one as Leopards mistakes increased – they finished with an eye-watering 32 turnovers – and the home team built a double digit lead after four minutes before Andre Levinier hit a trademark trey to cut the deficit to seven at the midway stage of the quarter.
Winter’s lay-up followed by a four point play kept the visitors in the game but despite another triple from Lavinier, the visitors trailed 80-73 at the final break.
Wood’s shot from the Land of Plenty made it a four point game at the start of the fourth period, but Leopards trailed throughout the stanza and it took a foul shot from Hodges to keep his side within six at the five minute mark.
A Wood triple and a lay-up from Newman kept it as a six point game going into the final three minutes.
Baker’s timeout paid immediate dividends as Newman sunk a trey to halve that lead, but that proved to be as good as it got for the Big Cats as Derby answered with six straight points to effectively wrap up the game.