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Dragons’ News

Dragons Roar Drowns Out the Thunder!

March 13, 2024

Bradford Dragons hosted Worthing Thunder in their final home fixture of the National Basketball League Division One season, on Saturday evening. Despite being down by twelve points at the halfway stage of the game, the Dragons silenced the Thunder in the second half, taking a five point victory (86-81) and completing the double over their South Coast opponents.

The previous fixture, back in December, had followed a similar pattern, with Worthing establishing a first half lead but then Bradford fighting back after the interval. On that occasion the game was tied at seventy-three apiece at the end of normal play, before the Dragons finally claimed the victory (81-85) following a period of overtime.

As Saturday’s fixture got underway, it was the visitors who registered first on the scoreboard, with Henry Wilkins sinking his lay-up. Wilkins then added a trey to give the West Sussex side an early five point lead. Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles and Barks Dog Grooming) then sank the first two points for Bradford, whilst also being fouled in the act of shooting. Tordoff however missed the bonus shot from the line.

Thunder then extended their lead to seven points (2-9) before the Dragons scored again, but the home side then went on a nine-point unanswered streak, to give them their first lead of the game (11-9). But it was Worthing who had the better of the remaining four minutes in the quarter, taking an eight point advantage into the first scheduled break (15-23).

Tordoff and Rihards Sulcs (sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar & Kitchen) closed the gap to four points early in the second period. But, that was quickly opened back to seven when Wilkins bucketed another trey for the visitors. The score difference fluctuated between four and seven points for most of the quarter, until Worthing again turned the screw in the final two minutes of the half.

At its peak the gap was up to fourteen points, before a last minute two, once again from Tordoff, closed the difference to twelve (32-44) before the sides headed back to their respective locker rooms.

After the break, the two sides traded baskets for a while. However, when Tordoff converted a spectacular Alley Oop, exactly halfway through the penultimate period, the gap had been reduced to just five points (48-53). Although Tola Okiki stretched that back to seven, Jordan Whelan (sponsored by Napoleon’s Casino & Restaurant, Bradford) then sank a two and then a trey. Sulcs then hit another trey to give the Dragons their first lead since the opening quarter (56-55).

The final three minutes of the period saw the teams trade baskets, like for like, and with Worthing’s Tom Ward putting up the final score, Bradford trailed by a single point (62-63) going into the final quarter.

Tordoff, Ronald Blain (sponsored by Bliss Baker Bakes and Positive Outcome Associates), Sulcs and Justin Williams (sponsored by the Ireland family) all scored in the opening three minutes of the final passage of play, to give Bradford a clear six point advantage (71-65). But the Thunder was still rumbling and a further three minutes later the gap was back down to a solitary point (71-70).

Bradford reopened their lead, and with time running out Worthing were forced into giving away fouls and sending the Dragons to line. The tactic didn’t work for the visitors and, as the buzzer sounded, the Dragons were able to celebrate a five point victory (86-81).

The Calderdale College Player of the Game Award went to Zion Tordoff, who top scored with 21 points, whilst adding 12 rebounds and 3 assists to register another double-double. Ronald Blain contributed 18 points to the winning tally, whilst Jordan Whelan (16 points), Justin Williams (15 points) and Rihards Sulcs (15 points) also registered in double figures.

Tola Okiki headed the Worthing scorers with 18 points, closely followed by Tom Ward on 16 points.

The Dragons now take a short break from league action, whilst they turn their attention to the club’s first ever major cup final appearance next Saturday. The KitKing Trophy Final takes place on Saturday evening (tip-off 7pm) at Loughborough University.

The Dragons go into the game as underdog’s, up against current league leaders Derby Trailblazers, but Chris Mellor’s side will be doing everything in their power to bring some silverware back to West Yorkshire.

The fixture is expected to attract a sell-out crowd, including a strong contingent of Bradford fans who are travelling to the game. Fans are advised not to travel unless they have pre-purchased their tickets. For those supporters that do not make it to Loughborough, the game will be streamed live on the Basketball England YouTube channel.

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