Bradford Dragons renewed their rivalry against Manchester Magic, with a War of the Roses clash in the pool stages of the KitKing Trophy on Saturday evening. The Dragons travelled across the Pennines for the fixture, and returned victorious following a tense encounter, which finished 70-76 in Yorkshire’s favour.
Manchester had played one game fewer than the Dragons, a game which they lost at Derby Trailblazers. Bradford had also lost their fixture in Derby, but had already beaten Team Newcastle University in their first fixture of this seasons competition.
Earlier, on Saturday afternoon, Derby had made it a clean sweep of victories by defeating Newcastle, and with both the North East team and Magic being pointless and still to face one another, the Dragons knew that a win on Saturday evening would see them into the quarter finals of the trophy.
Bradford put up the first points of the game, Micah Savery-Richards sinking his jump shot for two, and they led throughout the majority of the first quarter. However, their opponents were literally ‘in their face’ throughout the whole game and kept the scores close. With the Dragons leading by a single point, Manchester’s Greg Wild put down a buzzer beating two pointer to give Magic the lead going into the first break (18-17)
Manchester extended that lead to three in the early exchanges of the second period, before a two from Jordan Whelan followed by a Ricky Fetske trey but the Dragons back in front. Successive baskets from Manchester’s Andre Gayle then gave Manchester their biggest lead of the game so far, and the Dragons knew that they were in a battle.
David Walsh pulled the game back to within a single point with his first trey of the night and, with 2:44 remaining of the first half, Ricky Fetske finally put the Dragons ahead again.
When Jacques Misambu bucketed a two the White Rose side were ahead by four with just a minute on the clock. But, another buzzer beating shot, this time a three from Gayle, pulled it back to a one-point ball game going into half-time (33-34).
The third quarter commenced in the same vein, with neither team able to take a commanding lead. The home side continued to press throughout, not giving their guests a moment to settle on the ball. In the opening five minutes of the half the lead changed hands constantly, but finally the Dragons managed to put a run together which saw them build a six point advantage.
Still Magic would not let go and gradually clawed their way back. The final points of the quarter came once more from Wild and the sides were back as they were at the start of the quarter, with the Dragons holding on to a slim one point advantage (54-55).
Again, in the final period, the lead swung from side to side and with just 2:31 of the game to play, there was still only a single point separating the two teams.
Jermayne Laing layed up to increase that lead to 3 points but with Manchester running out of time, as well as being on five team fouls, their attempts to regain possession did no more than allow Bradford to add a further three points from the line. The game finished with Bradford taking a six point victory, 70-76, but Manchester can certainly take great heart from a stellar performance in which they pushed the victors all the way.
Jordan Whelan was the stand out performer for the Dragons, putting down a whopping 35 points towards the winning total. Dave Walsh added 17 points, whilst Ricky Fetske clocked up his customary double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Gayle topped the list of Manchester scorers with a very respectable 24 points.
The Dragons now travel to Hemel-Hempstead this coming Saturday to face Hemel Storm in the quarter finals of the KitKing Trophy, with tip-off scheduled for 7pm.
Also this weekend the junior NBL kicks off with both the Dragons’ under 18s and under 16s in action. The under 16s travel to Queen Ethelbuga’s College in York on Saturday morning, whilst the under 18s host Tees Valley Mohawks 24 hours later at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College.