Bradford Dragons went head to head with Team Newcastle University on Sunday afternoon, in a fixture that could either make or break the Dragons’ season. In a closely fought game, the Dragons took the win (81-87), securing their qualification to the post season playoffs.
The Dragons were in no doubt of the importance of this game, knowing that the win would put them through to the end of season competition, whereas a loss could just as easily see them miss out for the second consecutive season, particularly as it would hand Newcastle the head to head between the two sides (should they finish level on points at the end of the campaign). Accordingly, Bradford’s head coach had instructed his side to treat the game as a one off knock out game.
Newcastle opened the scoring with the first offensive play of the game; however, the Dragons immediately responded to open their own account. Despite leading throughout the remainder or the opening quarter, and at one point opening up a seven point advantage the visitors found themselves behind by a single point (22-21) when the buzzer signified the end of the period.
Into the second, the Dragons quickly regained the lead and led throughout the majority of the quarter. But this time they remained strong throughout and despite Newcastle’s resilience the Bradford side were up by four points (40-44) going into the half time interval.
After the break the game continued to follow a similar pattern, with the Dragons opening a gap and then Newcastle pulling it back close. When the teams left the court for the final scheduled break, there was just three points behind the two sides, 60-63 in the Dragons favour.
In the final quarter, the Dragons showed gritty determination and quickly opened up a big thirteen-point advantage and the game looked as though it was only going one way. Unbelievably, just a couple of minutes later the hosts found themselves two points up and suddenly it looked as though the Dragons were up against it.
Chris Mellor called for a time-out in an attempt to regroup his team, which clearly had the desired effect as Bradford closed out the game strongly, to take the win by six points (81-87).
Once again, Justin Williams headed the Bradford scorers, with a 37-point tally which saw him named as the National Basketball League Player of the Week. Bradford’s longest serving player, Rihards Sulcs added a further 24 points to the Dragons total, whilst Jordon Whelan also hit double figures with 11 points.
The Dragons now face one more league fixture, before the playoffs begin, traveling to second placed Worthing Thunder next Saturday evening (tip off 7:30pm).
D Hemel Storm or third placed Derby Trailblazers. There is still a slim possibility that they could face fourth placed Reading Rockets, however this would rely heavily on all other results going in the Dragons favour, as well as them winning their own battle in Worthing.
Whoever the Dragons face in the quarter final stage, the Dragons are looking at the possibility of hiring a coach to transport supporters to the game. If you would be interested in a seat on the coach (cost still to be determined) please email [email protected], as soon as possible, to express your interest.