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Dragons’ News

Bradford Dragons overcome the Elite!

February 21, 2024

London Elite were Saturday’s guests in the Dragons Den, in the National Basketball League Division One. In a closely contested fixture, the Bradford Dragons were ultimately victorious, ending the game with an eleven point victory (85-74).

In their first season in Division One, Elite have found the going tough and currently sit second from bottom in the standings. They had lost a total of thirteen games from their sixteen played, prior to the weekend, which included a thirty-two point loss (73-105) in the reverse fixture against Bradford.

Bradford, on the other hand have been in good form recently, despite suffering a heavy loss at Essex Rebels the previous weekend and currently sit seventh in the table. The side also had a fresh new look for the game, wearing their new kit for the first time, with their new sponsor, Ring Automotive Ltd., emblazoned across the front of the vests.

Backed by a large home crowd, the Dragons put the first points on the board, a layup by Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles and Barks Dog Grooming). That was quickly overturned by a three pointer from London’s Patrick Lanipekun. Ronald Blain (sponsored by Bliss Bakery Bakes and Positive Outcome Associates) responded with a trey for Bradford but again London responded with another from Afrasyab Khalil (5-6). But as the opening period progressed Bradford took a grip on proceedings and with just over five minutes played they had opened up a nine-point gap (18-9).

The home side maintained the lead throughout the remainder of the first quarter, though only managing to add a further two points to their score. Elite slowly eroded the gap and, when the buzzer sounded at the end of the period, the difference between the sides was a mere two points (20-18).

Early in the second period Lanipekun bucketed a two pointer to level the scores. This appeared to give the home side the kick that they needed and the next eight points all went in their favour (28-20), with scores from Blain, Justin Williams (sponsored by the Ireland family) and Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar and Kitchen).

Again, the lead remained with Bradford through to half-time, although Elite once again closed the gap, this time to three points (40-37), before the teams left the court at half time.

Ty Nsangu pulled London within a point at the start of the second half, although Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd.) quickly restored the three point cushion. The two sides continued to battle, matching one another almost basket for basket. With six minutes played in the third quarter, there was only two points separating the two sides (52-50).

But the hosts then started to pull away and, with only 37 seconds remaining in the period, a trey from Joe Buchanan (sponsored by Meryl Valentine) saw the Dragons thirteen points clear (65-52). The same player then fouled Khalil, whilst lining up a shot for three, sending the London player to the line. Khalil sank all three of his free throws to reduce the difference to ten points (65-55) at the end of the penultimate quarter.

The visitors were not willing to give up without a fight and slowly started to eat their way into the Dragons’ lead. With less than two minutes remaining on the clock the gap was down to just four points (78-74) before Williams settled the home crowd’s nerves with a two-point driving layup.

London needed possession and were forced into fouling in order to stop the Dragons from running the clock down, allowing the home side to add to their total from the line. Then, with just thirty-nine seconds left, there was another twist as Elite’s head coach, Daniel Szatkowski, was ejected for picking up a second technical foul.

With London failing to add to their score, the Dragons were able to wrap the game up, finishing the game with an eleven point victory (85-74).

Ronald Blain once again picked up the Calderdale College player of the game award, scoring a game high 29 points, whilst also adding 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Zion Tordoff and Justin Williams also recorded double figures with 15 points and 14 points respectively.

Kane Daley headed the London scorers with 19 points, whilst Patrick Lanipekun followed up with 13 points. Jordan Gray (11points) Aiden Saunders (11 points) and Afrasyab Khalil (10 points) also sank double figures for Elite.

Bradford hit the road again this weekend, with a visit to last season’s unbeaten champions Hemel-Storm. The two sides have met twice already this season, with Bradford taking the win in the Kit King Trophy semi-final, but Hemel taking their revenge a couple of weeks later in the league. Tip off at the Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre is at 7pm on Saturday.

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