Bradford Dragons faced a tough home fixture in the Dragons’ Den on Saturday evening as the yet undefeated league leaders, Hemel Storm came to town. Despite themselves scoring an impressive ninety three points, a tally which would be more than sufficient to win most games, the Dragons witnessed an incredible display of shooting accuracy, which saw Hemel amass an unassailable one-hundred-and thirty-one points to further extend their unbeaten record.
The Dragons got off to a fast start in the game, taking the first four points through baskets from Jordan Whelan and Dave Walsh. American Seth Swalve responded with his first of seven three pointers to pull Hemel back to within one, but Whelan then added a three of his own to restore the four-point advantage. (7-3)
Four minutes in, the home side’s lead was up to six points (19-13), but that was as good as things would get for them, as Hemel started to dominate. When Swalve sank another trey, just two minutes later, Hemel registered their first lead of the game (22-22). The game remained close for the remainder of the opening period, with the visitors just two points ahead (28-30) when the buzzer sounded at the end of the quarter.
Whelan tied the game at the start of the second sector of play, but then Jack Burnell hit the target for Hemel, again from outside of the arc. Romario Spence followed this up with another three, and interspersed with the occasional basket for the home side the onslaught began. For Hemel, it seemed like throwing rocks into the ocean (they just couldn’t miss) and as the two teams returned to their locker rooms for their half-time refreshments the visitors had built up an astonishing thirty-three point lead (41-74).
The game restarted with a basket for each side, but Hemel were in no mood to take their foot of the gas and just two minutes into the third quarter the gap was up to forty-one points. To add insult to injury Hemel reached the one-hundred point mark even before the end of the penultimate quarter, which ended with the league leaders still forty-one points clear (66-107).
Tayo Oyefusi bucketed a further trey for Hemel at the start of the final quarter, to increase the gap to forty-four. But, then the Dragons hit a rich vein of form, racking up an unanswered twelve point run with scores from Jermayne Laing, Jacques Misambu, Jabari Edwards and Ethan Rose.
Storm responded with another barrage of three-pointers and although Bradford clocked up their highest tally of the season so far, they were comprehensively beaten (93-131) by a Hemel display for which there are few superlatives that could possibly do it justice.
Bradford’s scorers were once again led by Jordan Whelan who hit 23 points, which could have been more had he not been ejected for a second technical foul in the third quarter.
Jabari Edwards contributed a further thirteen to the Dragons’ total whilst both Ethan Rose and Ricky Fetske added ten points each.
The game high score went to Hemel’s Seth Swalve, who bagged 28 points, including an impressive haul of seven from eight three pointers. He was backed up by his fellow American, Taylor Johnson, who added 25 points, with six from eight three point attempts. Aaryn Rai registered the games sole double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
In total, the visitors scored a staggering twenty-nine three pointers.
The Dragon’s are at home again next Saturday (21st January) when Team Newcastle University provide the opposition. Tip-off is at 6:15pm and tickets can be purchased online via the Dragons website.
In other games, there were victories for both the under 16s and under 18s. The under 16’s beat Doncaster Eagles on Saturday afternoon (66-61) in a home triple header which also saw the under 14s beaten (46-60), also against Doncaster. On Sunday the under 18s clocked up a twenty-six point victory against JLC Scunthorpe Wolves (79-53) at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College.
Photographs © Kristelle Temploneuvo