Bradford Dragons’ adventures in this season’s KitKing Trophy came to an end on Saturday evening, following a 99-78 quarter-final defeat at Hemel Storm.
Bradford started well, taking the first points of the game, with a two-pointer from Jordon Whelan straight from the tip. Although, the Storm twice pulled away into a five-point lead, the Dragons kept themselves close and, with just four seconds of the period remaining, Michah Savery-Richards layed up to give them a single point advantage going into the first break (22-23).
Again, the Dragons started strong in the second quarter, building up the biggest lead of the game so far (25-31), inside the first three minutes of the period. Another, three minutes in, The visitors to the Hemel Hempstead Leisure Centre, still held their lead, albeit narrowed to just two. (33-35).
Aaryn Rai then levelled the game for the hosts and when Dave Walsh then failed to put down his three-point attempt, the Storm hit a rich vein of form and bucketed the next ten points of the game. Walsh temporarily stemmed the flow, this time sinking for three. But, that was to be Dragons’ last score of the half and Hemel headed back to the locker rooms with a strong eleven-point advantage (49-38).
After the interval, the hosts stretched their lead to 15-points before Walsh finally got the Dragons back on the board, this time with a two-point lay-up. But Hemel were the team in the ascendency and with only two minutes of the penultimate period remaining, they had further stretched their lead to a massive twenty-one points (70-49).
However, Bradford fought hard and did manage to reduce the deficit to just twelve, before a final three-pointer of the quarter, from Hemel’s Jack Burnell, sent the hosts into the final period with a fifteen point lead (75-60).
Bradford continued to fight and four minutes into that final period they had managed to reduce Hemel’s advantage to just ten points (81-71), but the hosts were just too strong on the day and put the next thirteen points on the board without reply. But Bradford were not disgraced and, in the dying seconds of the game, rookie Ethan Rose layed-up for his first two points in a Dragons’ jersey. The game ended with Hemel Storm taking the win (99-78) and progressing to the semi-finals of the Trophy, against Reading Rockets.
Jordon Whelan continued his fantastic start to the season, netting the games high score with twenty-five points towards the Dragons’ total. Michah Savery-Richards followed up with eighteen points, whilst both Dave Walsh (13) and Jermayne Laing (10) also hit double figures for Bradford.
Aaryn Rai topped the bill for Hemel with twenty-four points, assisted by twenty points from Taylor Johnson and eighteen from Hakeem Sylla.
The Dragons now have a fortnight to wait for their next outing, which will once again be at Hemel Storm, this time in the opening fixtures of the National Basketball League Division One.
In other fixtures, the Dragons under 16s went down 73-49 at QE Knights on Saturday morning, whilst a much tighter affair saw the under 18s narrowly beaten by Tees Valley Mohawks (61-62) at the Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College.