Bradford Dragons made the long journey down to Berkshire on Sunday afternoon for their National Basketball League Division One fixture against Reading Rockets. After a close first three quarters, the Dragons side ran out of fuel in the final period, slumping to a seventeen point defeat (95-77).
When these two sides last met, it had been Reading that went home with the win (77-88) and the Dragons were looking for revenge this time around. However, despite Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar and Kitchen) putting up the first score of the game, from the free throw line, the Rockets very quickly build up a seven point advantage (8-1). And with just seven minutes played that gap was increased further to nine points (17-8), but then an eight point unanswered run, spearheaded by Jordon Whelan and Justin Williams, suddenly put the Dragons back within striking distance (17-16).
Lewis Champion put up a final two pointer for the hosts to finish the opening period, which ended at 19-16.
Into the second, Reading would keep trying to pull away, but the most they could muster would be a five point gap, and each time the Dragons would close this back to within a single score. With only ninety seconds of the first half remaining the Rockets again led by five (34-29), before consecutive layups from Whelan and Williams pulled the Dragons back within a point.
On the next play, a poorly attempted pass by Readings Zack Powell allowed Bradford’s Jabari Edwards to steal and, in an attempt to get the ball back, Powell committed a foul which sent the young Dragon to the line. Edwards sank both penalty shots and with no further scores to add, Bradford went back to the locker rooms ahead by one (34-35).
American Power Forward, Ricky Fetske opened the second half with a long range trey, to increase the Dragons’ lead, but it wasn’t long before their hosts had managed to tie things up at forty-six apiece. The two sides matched each other throughout the remainder of the penultimate period, in which this time it was Reading’s turn to finish with a single point advantage.
With both Dave Walsh and Jermayne Laing missing from the game day roster, the Dragons were relying on their big players putting in long shifts on the court, and this started to show in the final quarter. Despite Williams levelling the score from the line early in the period, Reading regained the lead within the opening minute and never looked back. A tiring Bradford side couldn’t prevent their hosts from building on their lead and the game ended with the Rockets recording a rather flattering seventeen point win (95-78).
Justin Williams was the top scorer for Bradford with 26 points, whilst Jordon Whelan was only a point behind on 25. Also in double figures, Ricky Fetske amassed a total of 15 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.
The game high scorer was Readings Troy Cracknell who registered 32 points. He was supported by Jermiah Jenkins (21 points) and Jawad Adekoya (19 points).
This coming Saturday, the action returns to the Dragons’ Den, with the much anticipated return of Lancashire rivals, Manchester Magic. This ‘War of the Roses’ clash is always a hotly contested affair and with Manchester fighting to avoid a swift return to the second division, this one is sure to be no different. Tickets for the fixture are available online via the club website.
In the only Junior Dragons’ fixture of the weekend, the under sixteens took a hard fought win at Tees Valley Mohawks (55-59).
Both the under 14s and under 16s will be in action this Saturday afternoon in a triple billing of basketball, along with the main event between the Dragons and Manchester Magic.