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Dragons’ News

Bradford Dragons don’t make the grade at Newcastle University.

March 6, 2024

The Dragons were on the road again at the weekend, this time making a trip up to the North East to face Newcastle University in their latest National Basketball League Division One fixture. Despite a good start to the game, the Dragons failed to capitalise and disappointingly lost the game by a seven point margin (97-90) in the Universities Sports and Fitness Centre.

The two sides have already met three times this season. Bradford got the upper hand in the first fixture, in the pool stages of the KitKing Trophy (87-80). However, when the sides next met, in a home league fixture for the Dragons’ it was Newcastle that came off the better (93-105). Just two weeks later, the sides met in a National Cup fixture in Newcastle, with the University side again taking the win (78-71).

Both sides are in the running for an end of season playoff berth, with Newcastle looking to take one of the top four spots to secure a home advantage.

Justin Williams (sponsored by the Ireland Family) put the first points on the board in Saturday’s fixture. Newcastle then responded with a trey, but it was Bradford that had the better of the opening minutes. With little over three minutes played, Ronald Blain (sponsored by Bliss Bakery Bakes and Positive Outcome Associates) sank a three pointer to put the Dragons ten points clear (5-15).

Newcastle fought back however, and when the buzzer registered the end of the opening quarter, there was only a single point to separate the two sides (28-29).

Early in the second period, Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd.) added a single from the foul line, but missed with his second of the two free throws. Sauveur Kande then sank a trey for Newcastle, to give them their first lead since the opening minute of the game (31-30).

The game then went through a two minute spell, with neither side adding to their scores. Blain finally broke the shut-out, sinking a two to restore the Dragons’ advantage. The two sides continued to trade baskets for the next few minutes of the game, before gradually the home side started to threaten to pull away. Newcastle built up a seven point gap with just over half of the period gone (47-40); however, Bradford remained resilient and at half time Newcastle held just a slim four point lead (52-48).

It didn’t take long after the break for the home side to stretch out their lead again, this time giving them a ten point cushion (60-50). Once again Bradford were not prepared to let the game slip away from them and four minutes into the third quarter Blain sank a trey to level the scores at sixty-two a piece. Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles & Barks Dog Grooming) then dunked to give Bradford the lead (62-64) once again.

The sides continued to trade baskets, with the lead swinging first one way and then the other. As the penultimate period drew to a close, it was back to a single point separating the two, with Newcastle holding the slight advantage (76-75).

Into the final quarter and Newcastle immediately opened their lead to four points, with a trey from Josh Moore. Jordan Whelan (sponsored by Napoleon’s Casino & Restaurant, Bradford) sank two from the free throw line and then followed that up with a trey to put the Dragons ahead. Albert Margai then layed up to stretch that out, albeit only to three points (79-82).

But, with four minutes played, Newcastle finally regained their lead and although Bradford kept themselves in touch, two minutes later they were six points down (92-86).

But, ultimately, Bradford were the masters of their own downfall with missed shots and free throws in the final stages of the game. Despite doing enough to keep the scores respectably close, the game ended with the hosts taking a seven point victory (97-90)

Ronald Blain top scored for Bradford with 23 points, adding 11 rebounds for the double-double. He was backed up by Justin Williams (21 points) and Jordan Whelan (19 points) whilst Zion Tordoff was the only other Dragon to register double figures (10 points).

Newcastles Josh Moore took the game high score with 26 points, whilst Logan Rooney (19 points), Justin Hopkins (18 points) and Emmanuel Kanwei (11 points) also registered double digits for the winning side.

This coming Saturday (9th March, 6:15pm), the Dragons entertain Worthing Thunder in the final home fixture of the regular season. Bradford will be keen to finish their home fixtures with a win, especially as the following week they face their first major final, in the KitKing Trophy.

Tickets for Saturday’s fixture are on sale via the club website and the club are encouraging supporters to pre-book with a 20% early bird discount available until Midnight on Friday.

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