Saturday’s National Trophy game was Bradford’s first home fixture of the 2015/16 season, having won their three previous games on their travels. Before tip-off, the Dragons were holding a 2-0 record in the National Trophy Northern Pool, whilst their visitors, Team Northumbria, were at 2-1.
It was the home side that started the brightest, putting the first points on the board, much to the delight of the home crowd, who were getting their first glimpse of the new look Dragon’s roster. However, despite Bradford’s dominance in the opening quarter, the visitors kept them within reach as the first period ended with the Dragons leading 22-19.
Into the second quarter, Team Northumbria soon levelled the scores and, despite the two sides trading baskets with each other, they overturned the Dragons lead to take a four point advantage, 40-44, back to the locker room at half time.
The Dragons were clearly starting to tire and despite their best efforts their guests started to pull away in the fourth quarter. With only three minutes of the game remaining Team Northumbria had built up a commanding thirteen point lead. However, the home side rallied and pulled it back to three points, raising the crowd’s hopes of a home victory. However, the effort finally took its toll on the Dragons as the visitors pulled away again in the closing moments to finish the game with an 83-90 victory.
American newbie, Nick Moore, again led the scoring for the Dragon’s, racking up his second double-double in as many matches with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Jason Swaine added a further 25 points, whilst Rafi Saipe also demonstrated some impressive three point shooting to contribute towards the Dragons’ total.
On Sunday, the Dragons travelled to Manchester’s Amaechi Basketball Centre for their National Cup second round tie against defending champions Manchester Magic.
A strong Manchester side showed their intent early in the game, taking a nine point lead into the first break (31-22). However, Bradford managed to pull it back in the second quarter to go into half time with the scores level at 49 apiece.
The home side set about the second half with great determination and again put themselves nine points ahead. However the Dragons were not done yet and miraculously went into the final break with a single point advantage, at 67-68.
But it wasn’t to be, as the fatigue was clearly starting to show in the Dragons’ ranks, outnumbered in size, both in numbers and in stature, by their hosts. It was only a matter of moments within the closing period before Manchester regained their lead and it was all one way traffic from that point onwards, with the hosts finishing the game as convincing victors, at 98-81 and sending the Dragons out of the cup.
Reflecting on the weekend’s action, head coach, Chris Mellor stated, “It was a tough weekend results wise, with two losses. There were positives in both performances, individually and collectively, but both games showed that we’ve got a lot of work to do this week before we face another tough double header next weekend.”
The Dragons are back in action at the Dragons’ Den next Saturday, in another National Trophy game, this time against newly promoted Lancashire Spinners. The last time that the two teams met was in last season’s cup competition, with the Dragons eventually taking the spoils, following a tough battle against the Burnley side. However, the Spinners are currently 4-0 in the Trophy and 6-0 in all competitions, so the Dragons can expect another tough test. The game tips off at 6:15pm at Bradford College Sports Hall, Trinity Road.
Then, on Sunday the Dragons return to Manchester for another Trophy game, tipping off at 5pm in the Amaechi Basketball Centre.
Meanwhile, Dragons under 18’s beat Doncaster Danum Eagles in the Dragons’ Den on Saturday, coming back from behind to win 72-67 in the North East Development League. However, an illness hit under 16’s team were disappointedly beaten 44-40, at Cheshire Pheonix, also on Saturday.