Bradford Dragons’ dismal run of form continued at the weekend as they fell to a fourth consecutive defeat, this time at the Manchester Basketball Centre, the home of Manchester Magic. A game in which the Dragons trailed from the fifth minute ended in a fourteen point win (76-62) for the red side of the Pennines.
Bradford’s Ricky Fetske won the jump-ball at the start of the game, but Dave Walsh then missed his three-point attempt, allowing Manchester to advance to the other end of the court, where Kaphel Ulett-Waul sank the first two points of the game.
Bradford hit back with a two from Jordan Whelan, who then sank a trey to put the Dragons in the ascendency. Former Dragon, Thyme Regent-Bascombe, replied with a two and Ulett-Waul then put Manchester up once more (6-5).
Whelan then saw his three point attempt bounce back off the rim, but Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd, the UK’s first producer of totally green Kitchens of Recycled Content) took the rebound and bucketed a two to restore Bradford’s lead.
However, unanswered baskets from Manchester’s Tyrell Brown, Andre Gayle and Trevor Samuel put Manchester five points up (12-7).
With just over a minute of the first quarter remaining Ethan Rose pulled the Dragons back within two (15-13), but an immediate response from Ulett-Waul and Joe Buchanan pulled Manchester clear once more. Despite Whelan adding a further three points for the Dragons, the opening period ended with the hosts holding a four-point lead (20-16).
Mahamed Shegow sank a three early in the second period, to extend the home advantage, but Rihards Šulcs (Sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar and Kitchen) and Ethan Rose then pulled the gap back to just two-points (23-21). But every time Chris Mellor’s team came close Manchester would just pull away once more and at the half way point of the period the lead was as high as nine points (30-21).
Bradford’s woes were highlighted by a single passage of play in which Fetske failed to sink his three-point attempt. Savery-Richards took the offensive rebound but then couldn’t convert his layup attempt. From that, Whelan took the rebound, playing the ball out to Walsh who then saw his jump shot rebound out. Again the Dragons picked up the rebound, and the ball was worked out to Walsh who teed up another attempt for a trey, which was blocked by Manchester’s Brown.
Whilst the Dragons were struggling to get the ball to drop, everything seemed to be sinking at the other end and as the buzzer sounded for half-time Magic held a seven point advantage (43-36).
The second half proved to be a slow burner, but the only two scores in the first three minutes went Bradford’s way, reducing Manchester’s advantage to just three (43-40).
The two sides then traded baskets throughout the rest of that penultimate period, with the hosts carrying a five point lead into the final quarter (56-51).
The further the game progressed the more Manchester’s confidence grew and within a couple of minutes of the restart their lead was up to twelve points (66-54). Bradford had plenty of possession and at times played breath-taking basketball, but the end result just wasn’t what we had come to expect from earlier in the season. Whilst they did pull the gap down to eight points a late flurry of scores from their hosts, resulted in a convincing win for Magic (76-62).
Despite the loss, Jordan Whelan picked up another game high-score with 23 points, whilst Micah Savery-Richards also contributed 15 points for the Dragons. At the other end of the scale, the normally reliable Dave Walsh failed to register a single score in the game, highlighting the current woes that the Dragons are experiencing.
Andre Gayle and Thyme Regent-Bascombe led for Manchester, with 14 points each, but although they were the only Magic players in double figures, the team registered scores from all nine players that took to the court.
The Dragons face a home fixture against the Essex Rebels this coming Saturday with tip off at 6:15pm. That game is preceded by two earlier fixtures featuring the Dragons’ under 14s and under 16s, both of who play their counterparts from York Eagles. Entry to the two junior fixtures is free of charge and tickets for the evening fixture can be purchased in advance from the club’s website.
All three of the Dragons’ Junior NBL teams had last weekend off, however the club did have a rare victory from their Dragons 3 side in their fixture at Spen Valley Vipers 3 (51-54). Hopefully the first of many in the Leeds League this season.