Dragons Blaze into the Quarter Final
Bradford Dragons secured their place in the quarter finals of the National Cup, by virtue of a 91-83 fourth round victory over, fellow division one side, Derby Trailblazers, in the Dragons Den on Sunday afternoon.
In the previous round, whilst the Dragons were storming to an emphatic victory (39-113) at third division WLV Albion, Derby were also up against a third-tier side. In their case a home victory (92-62) against Worcester Wolves II, set up an enticing top-flight fixture between the two first division rivals.
The second quarter started with Derby in possession and they quickly brought themselves within a point. However, the Dragons had now regained their mojo and quickly re-opened their advantage. When American power-forward, Ricky Fetske, sank a three-pointer, four minutes in, they were once again in firm control (31-24).
Still, Derby refused to lie down and pulled the game back to three points. Nevertheless, the hosts picked up the pace once more and restored their seven-point advantage (45-38) before the half-time buzzer sounded.
It seemed as though Bradford were destined for a comfortable victory, however, the Trailblazers had other ideas. A series of home turnovers, allowed the visitors to not only reduce the deficit, but with just over three minutes remaining, an Oli Stanley jump shot sent spectators blood pressure soaring, as the scores were levelled, at 81 a-piece.
The tension was eased, slightly, when Eisley Swaine hit back with a three, followed by another triple-pointer from Saipe. Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Templewood Photography) then extended home advantage to eight points (89-81). Derby still had one more score in them, but the game finished with a spectacular slam-dunk from Fetske, right on the final buzzer. Final score 91-83.
Taco Bell Player of the game, Fetske topped the scorers, clocking up 25 points with an impressive 77 percent success rate, including three three-pointers. The big American was supported by Saipe (19 points) and Sulcs, who recorded his customary double-double, with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Gooding (sponsored by Gooding Funeral Services) also contributed 16 points to the winning total.
Triumphant coach, Chris Mellor reflected, “We always had our noses in front, but it was never totally comfortable and they hung around, hit some big shots, which made for a very interesting last five minutes.
“Rafi and Eisley hit a couple of threes at the end and we came up with a couple of big stops when needed.”
Bradford now have a weekend off, as the scheduled league against London Lituanica has been cancelled, due to the London club’s withdrawal from the National League.
Bradford travel to current league leaders, Reading Rockets on Saturday 11th November, before the action then returns to the Den for the visit of Newcastle University Eagles the following Saturday (18th). More details and tickets are available via the Dragons’ website.
In other Dragons news, the under 16s continued their good start to the season, recording a 92-84 home win over Leeds City Gold (Great Osobar 30 points, Theo Antwi 23, Olufemi Bright 22).
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography