KitKing Trophy Final 2024: Derby triumph in showpiece for second time

Derby Trailblazers made history by becoming the first team to win two KitKing Trophies with an 89-74 victory over the Bradford Dragons in front of a packed house at Loughborough University on Saturday evening.

However, to get to the promised land, Derby were made to sweat in the early stages of the fourth quarter as they saw their 22-point advantage shrink to just 77-69 with 5:48 remaining thanks to a lay-up from Rihards Sulcs as part of a 14-0 run.

But led by MVP Sam Masten, who posted 24 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists with a game-high 25 from Jonas Dieterich for support, the Trailblazers faithful were finally able to celebrate.

Ronald Blain, appearing in his third straight KitKing Trophy final, led the Dragons with 21 points, but for the third time, had to settle for a runners-up medal.

The first quarter was lightning-fast. Dragons - appearing in their first final since 2010 - enjoyed an early three-point lead before Dieterich responded with a triple of his own.

And the three-pointers kept flowing for Dieterich as he hit six out of seven attempts, with Derby's advantage peaking at 12 points in the first two quarters.

Thanks to the shooting of Joe Buchanan and the inside presence of Zion Tordoff, Bradford clawed their way back, but the Trailblazers still enjoyed a 50-39 cushion at the break.

That 11-point lead ballooned to 57-37 after three as the Dragons perhaps relied too heavily on the outside. Malcolm Smith—who was scoreless in the first half—enjoyed a 12-point haul in a one-sided quarter.

Derby looked to have one hand on the trophy until Bradford's final burst made the final five minutes interesting.

Derby head coach Matt Shaw said:

"Fantastic game, I'm really proud of the guys with the way they absorbed that run that [Bradford] had in that fourth quarter, which made us a little nervous for a while. But we composed ourselves and we found a way to get the win.

"[It was] a full team effort to get to this stage. Loads of different players have had big parts through the journey, through the group stages to get to the final."  

MVP Sam Masten said:

"It was awesome, I just stepped out there and did what I could to help us get a win. This is my first chance to compete for some silverware over here so I wanted to leave it out all on the floor.

"I got so many talented players around me and that makes my job so much easier, so I try to take whatever the defence gives me and that's what I did today."


Report: John Hobbs

Pictures: Pete Simmons