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Dragons’ News

Big Road Loss for Dragons in Essex.

February 14, 2024

Bradford Dragons made the long road trip to Essex Sports Arena in Colchester, to face one of the leagues top two teams, the Essex Rebels, on Saturday.  Failing to really get themselves going in the first half, the Dragons gave themselves two much to do in the second, losing the game by eighteen points, with the scores at 96-78.

Essex have been one of the most improved sides this season. Having gone from finishing eleventh in the table in the previous campaign, they currently sit joint top in the league standings this time around, with thirteen wins and just two losses.

Bradford went into the game sitting seventh in the table, but on the back of three straight wins, the most recent of which was the previous weekend at City of Birmingham Rockets (72-74).

The first four points of the game went the way of the hosts, a couple of layups by Ebuka Ekwegh. Jordan Whelan (sponsored by Napoleons Casino & Restaurant, Bradford) got Bradford’s first score with a single from the foul line, following a foul by Luke Busumbru. However, as the opening quarter progressed the Rebels gradually stretched their lead out to fifteen points (26-11) with just under 90 seconds remaining. It would have remained at fifteen points had it not been for a trey by Joe Buchanan (sponsored by Meryl Valentine) before the buzzer. But, the period closed with Essex still holding a double-digits lead (28-16).

Straight from the restart, Bradford’s Ronald Blain (sponsored by Bliss Bakery Bakes and Positive Outcome Associates) made a two point layup. That was to be the visitors only score of the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter, by which time they had fallen further behind (37-18).

Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles & Barks Dog Grooming) sank a layup to finally break the Dragons’ deadlock. Although Bradford picked up their momentum from there, they still couldn’t hold the Rebels from further extending their lead. With a minute to play before the half time interval the gap was as high as twenty three points (50-27). With Ronald Blain picking up a further five points in that final minute, the deficit was reduced to twenty points (52-32) at the buzzer.

As the two sides returned to their locker rooms for half time refreshments, Chris Mellor knew that his side needed to do way better in the second half if they were to salvage anything from the game. But, just three minutes into the penultimate quarter, the gap was at a game high twenty-four points (60-36).

Suddenly, Bradford clicked into gear and started to work at reducing the deficit. With less than two minutes of the period remaining the gap was down to just eleven points (66-55). Nevertheless, when the buzzer sounded for the end of the quarter the difference between the two was fourteen points, with the scoreboard displaying 71-57 in the hosts favour.

Into the final quarter and Essex stretched their lead further to nineteen (76-57) before Buchanan registered the first two points of the period for the Dragons. This was the start of an unanswered twelve point run by Bradford. With five minutes of the game remaining the gap was down to just seven points (76-69).

Unfortunately, that was as close as the Dragons would get and as the final minutes ran down, and with the foul count totting up for Bradford Essex were able to quash any threat that the Dragon’s may have posed. As the final buzzer sounded the travelling Bradford side were on the wrong end of an eighteen point difference (96-78).

Once again, Bradford’s Ronald Blain registered the games high score with 25 points, adding 10 points for a double-double. Jordan Whelan contributed 16 points and Justin Williams (sponsored by the Ireland family) added a further 13 points. Also in double figures was Zion Tordoff, who also registered a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Luke Busumbru led the line for Essex with 24 points, whilst Victor Olarerin (19 points), Trey Chapman (11 points), Kyron Martin (11 points) and Connor Nelson (10 points) also registered double figures.

This weekend the action returns to the Inspire Centre and the visit of London Elite. This will be Elite’s first ever visit to the Dragons’ Den as Bradford hope to get straight back to winning ways. Tip-Off on Saturday is at 6:15pm and tickets can be booked in advance at www.bradforddragons.co.uk/tickets.

This fixture will be preceded by the Yorkshire Cup Final at 3pm, between Kings Basketball Club of Hull and the Bradford Maroons. Entry to the Cup Final game is free, so why not get a double dose of Basketball action at the Inspire Centre this Saturday?

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