Bradford Dragons entertained their rivals from the other side of the Pennines on Saturday evening, as Manchester Magic made their first visit to the new Dragons’ Den, at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre. Despite the red rose side taking the opening quarter, the Dragons dominated throughout the remainder of the game and took the victory for Yorkshire with a 26 point win (107-81).
Formerly a major force in the National Basketball League, Manchester have fallen on more difficult times in recent seasons, having been relegated to Division Two at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Newly promoted back into Division One they have found the going tough picking up only four wins, including the reverse fixture against the Dragons, from nineteen games, prior to Saturday’s fixture, and fighting against an immediate return to the second tier.
The tip-off saw a reunion of former team mates Ricky Fetske and former Dragon Tyme Regent-Bascombe, who was part of the Dragon’s roster during the Covid stricken 2020-21 term. Despite Fetske owning a significant height advantage, it was the Magic player who won the tip, setting the visitors on their way to an early seven point lead (0-7), all of which were scored by Ben Brown.
Dragons eventually got themselves on the scoresheet, courtesy of the legend from Latvia, Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar and Kitchen). This was followed by a Justin Williams trey, closing the gap to just two points but however hard they tried, they just couldn’t overcome Manchester’s lead. The closest they came was on the five minute mark, when another score by Williams, this time from the foul line, levelled the scores (14-14) but successive treys from Andre Gayle and Tyrell Brown saw Manchester immediately restore a six point cushion.
With little over thirty seconds of the opening quarter remaining, Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Limited) sank a driving layup to pull the Dragons back to within three points, but another trey from Ben Brown saw Manchester into the first scheduled break with a six point advantage (22-28).
The second period opened with scores from Savery-Richards and Williams, pull the hosts back to within two points. But, it wasn’t until the fifth minute of the game, when Fetske sank a two-point jump shot, that the Dragons finally made the breakthrough and took their first lead of the game (35-34). The American power forward immediately followed that up with a trey and there was now no looking back for the home side. When Rihards Sulcs made his layup, with just over two minutes of the half to play, their lead was up to ten (46-36) and, despite a mini comeback by the Mancunians, the Dragons finished the half with an eight point advantage (51-43) – a fourteen point turn around in the quarter.
After the break the Dragons continued to pile on the pressure, taking the third quarter by ten-points, and increasing their lead to eighteen points (81-63).
Savery-Richards made that twenty in the opening play of the final period, and when that same player sank a turnaround jump shot in the fifth minute of the quarter the home advantage was up to twenty-six (91-65). However, the loudest cheer of the night was saved to the very end when, with only three seconds left, sixteen year old Camron Simpson (sponsored by Asley Ajay Simpson, USA) hit a three, sending the home crowd into hysteria. The game finished with the Dragons maintaining that 26 point lead (107-81).
Player of the game and top scorer for the Dragons was Micah Savery-Richards with 26 points. Justin Williams and Jordan Whelan contributed 18 and 15 points respectively to the winning tally, whilst Ricky Fetske registered another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
For Manchester, Joe Buchanan totalled 18 points, followed by Tyrell Brown on 16 points and Ben Brown on 12 points.
The Dragons travel to Essex University Arena this coming Saturday to face up against the Essex Rebels, the first meeting between the two sides this season. Tip-off is at 6:30pm.
Dragons under 14s and under 16s both had home games against Teeside Lions on Saturday. The under 14s struggled against the top of the table side, losing the game 67-84. However the under 16s balanced things out with an outstanding team performance, beating the Lions by thirty-one points (82-51).
The following day, the under 18s travelled to York Eagles, where they suffered a twenty point deficit, losing the game 65-45.
Photos © Kristelle Templonuevo