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Dragons’ News

Dragons take the ‘W’ against Reading Rockets.

January 31, 2024

Bradford Dragons entertained Reading Rockets on Saturday evening, at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre. Despite trailing almost throughout the first half of the game, Bradford roared back to register a valuable victory (87-84) in front of their own fans.

The previous meeting between the two sides, in October, had gone in the Rockets’ favour (79-71). Reading have since gone on to record an impressive 8 wins from their ten league fixtures prior to this meeting. The Berkshire side also qualified for the National Cup Final, played out in Manchester the previous weekend. In a historic final, the Rockets were beaten by second division side MK Breakers, the team that eliminated Bradford from the competition last season.

Saturday’s fixture was Reading’s first game since that defeat.  They entered the Dragons’ Den determined to get themselves back on winning terms. But despite them winning the ball from the tip, it was Bradford that put the first point on the board.  Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles and Barks Dog Grooming) sank one of two free throws, following a foul by Christian Alexander.

The lead was short lived, with Alexander making amends at the other end with a layup. Bradford struggled to get into any sort of rhythm and, three and a half minutes in, had failed to add to their single point. Reading meanwhile clocked up an eight point lead (1-9), mostly through the endeavours of Christian and Mitch Clarke.

Albert Margai, brought the Dragon’s back into the game, registering the home side’s next seven points. With three minutes of the quarter remaining, Ronald Blain (sponsored by Bliss Bakery Bakes and Positive Outcome Associates) levelled the score with his first two points of the game (16-16).

That was to be Bradford’s final contribution to the opening quarter, whilst the Rockets rebuilt their eight point advantage (16-24).

The second period started with Lewis Champion sinking a three for the visitors. This was quickly cancelled out by a trey from Andreas Lycoudis, who is still being nursed back into action following his two and a half year absence through injury. Reading’s lead fluctuated between five and twelve points, but a couple of layups from Justin Williams (sponsored by the Ireland Family) meant that the gap remained at just eight (41-49) as the sides returned to their locker rooms at half time.

As we have often seen this season, the Dragons returned to the court with renewed vigour.  With just over two minutes played, a three from Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd.) pulled them within just three points of the Rockets (48-51).

Margai then added a single from the foul line, followed by another trey,  giving Bradford their first lead (52-51) since the opening play of the game. Blain then added another two to increase that lead to three.  But the visitors finally regained their mojo and the two sides sparred for the next few plays.

The mid-point of the quarter was decorated by a duet of threes, first by Clarke and then Jeremiah Jenkins, putting the Rockets ahead by three (56-59). When Elijah Maynard added a further two, it seemed as though the tide had turned in Reading’s favour.

But the Dragons were not done yet and it didn’t take them long to level the scores once again (61-61). When the buzzer sounded for the end of the quarter it was Bradford that held a four point advantage (71-67).

Only four points, two for either side, were registered in the opening four minutes of the final period. A second technical foul for Rockets’ head coach, Samit Nuruzade, saw him ejected from the Arena, leaving the visitors in the hands of his assistant, Matt Johnson.

Reading responded immediately, pulling back to within a single point through a trey from Clarke. However, the Dragons edged the remainder of the quarter to take a much needed three point win (87-84).

Ronald Blain picked up his second Player of the Game Award, clocking-up a 22 points and 11 rebounds double-double. Justin Williams registered 17 points towards the winning total, whilst Micah Savery-Richards was just one behind with 16 points. Albert Margai and Zion Tordoff also registered double figures with 13 and 10 points respectively. Tordoff also took 10 rebounds to record another double-double for the Dragons.

Reading’s scorers were led by Mitch Clarke, who equalled Ronald Blain’s game high of 22 points. Jeremiah Jenkins (14 points) Elijah Maynard (12 points) and Christian Alexander (10 points) also registered double figures for Reading.

Bradford travel to the City of Birmingham, this coming Saturday, to face another Rockets’ side.   CoB Rockets made an impressive start to life in Division One, including a win in the reverse fixture against Bradford. However, their form has dipped in recent weeks and they now sit two places behind Bradford in the standings. Can Bradford make it three wins on the bounce or will Birmingham regain their early season form? Tip off time in Birmingham is 7:30pm.

Bradford’s next home fixture is on Saturday 17 February, when they welcome London Elite to the Inspire Centre. Tickets are now on sale through the club website.

Photographs © Luke Simcock

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