Bradford Dragons experienced mixed fortunes at the weekend with a loss at Thames Valley Cavaliers (101-61) in the league on Saturday evening, but bounced back to beat Manchester Magic (91-80) in the third round of the National Cup on Sunday afternoon.
The Dragons travelled to Uxbridge College on Saturday without a win, so far, in the National Basketball League, whilst Thames Valley had also struggled to find their form from the previous two seasons with just win from their opening three matches.
Bradford got off to the worst possible start, shipping the first eight points of the game in the first couple of minutes of play. Clayfell Harris temporarily put a stop to the Thames Valley dominance, scoring a two-point layup, but that was followed by another eight points unanswered for the host team.
Struggling to find their rhythm, the Dragons shipped a massive 35 points in the opening quarter and only managed a meagre ten of their own.
The second period was much a more even affair. Matt Armstrong opened the scoring with a three for Bradford, immediately cancelled out by a three from Juan Manning, for the Tigers. But the Dragons then found a bit of momentum and produced an eight point streak of their own, without reply (38-21).
The two sides then continued to trade baskets through the rest of the half, and as the buzzer sounded for the half time break, the Dragons had won the quarter but still trailed in the game by twenty-three points (57-34).
But that was about as good as things got for the visitors, with Thames Valley extending their lead to thirty-four points in the third quarter (78-44) and then further compounding the Dragons’ misery in the fourth to take a massive forty point victory (101-61).
Sunday’s fixture couldn’t come soon enough for the Dragons’ giving them an immediate opportunity to bounce back with a win. The third round of the National Cup traditionally pits the top flight teams with lower division opposition, and in Bradford’s case this came in the form of second Division Manchester Magic.
The red rose side may no longer be the powerhouse that they were a few seasons ago, when they were heading up the National Basketball League Division one table, however they are currently sitting pretty at the top of the division two table, with an unbeaten record and an average winning margin of 38 points per game. And irrespective of the different divisions that the two sides currently occupy, games between these two sides are always fiercely fought with Roses pride at stake.
It was also a game that saw the return of Tyme Regent-Bascombe, who played for the Dragons during their nomadic 2020-21 campaign, but is now plying his trade with Manchester Magic.
The Dragons put the first point of the game on the board, scoring with their first offensive through a Zach Gachette lay-up. Manchester responded with a three, and then followed up with another (2-6). Dave Walsh narrowed the gap with a lay-up and then a jump shot from Gachette levelled the scores at six a piece. But another Magic three, saw the visitors ahead once more.
It wasn’t until the eight minute of the game when Bradford finally regained the lead, when Gachette scored at the second attempt, having collected his own rebound (12-11). The home side closed out the opening quarter with a four point advantage (19-15).
The Dragons kept threatening to pull away in the second period, but whenever they created some breathing space between the two sides, the visitors would strike back. At half time, the Dragons led by six points 45-39.
Four minutes into the third and the Dragons lead was into double figures (53-42)but again Manchester fought hard to pull themselves back within striking distance and with only a minute of the period remaining there were only two points separating the two sides (63-61). As the penultimate quarter ended the gap was a slim four points (67-63).
Bradford extended their lead to eight points early in the fourth, however at the mid point of the quarter it was once again down to a single basket (75-73) between the teams. Manchester kept the scores close, but as the clock ran down they were forced into errors which allowed the Dragons to pull away one final time. The game ended with the scores at 91-80 and the home side progress to the next round of the cup, in which they will face either Myerscough Basketball or Derby Trailblazers.
Ricky Fetske, watched by his visiting parents from the USA, contributed the game high score with a massive 30 point haul. Walsh added a further 22 points to his weekend tally and Gachette also chipped in with 16 points. Regent-Bascombe headed up the Manchester scorers with 16 points.
The Dragons were due to be back in the Dragons Den this Saturday to face the Nottingham Hoods. However, due to issues with the venue this game has had to be postponed.
In more exciting news, the Dragons have today announced that they will be furthering their partnership with Calderdale College, where the club currently runs the Bradford Dragons Basketball Academy. From December, all Dragons home fixtures will be moved to the Inspire Centre at the college, starting with a double header on the 11th and 12th of December against London Lions II and Reading Rockets. Further details, including special offers for a full weekend ticket will be released shortly.
Craig Waterworth, the Inspire Centre General Manager said, “We are extremely excited to be hosting the Bradford Dragons’ Division One games here at the Inspire Centre, Calderdale College. We see this as a fantastic opportunity to continue our developments with the Dragons. Our Basketball Academy is going from strength to strength and we see this as a natural progression together to have it all under one roof.
“We want the families of Calderdale to come and see how great the standard of Basketball is in Division One and have a superb evening of entertainment for a minimal cost.”
For all information of upcoming games please contact the club through their website, and for games from December onwards you can also contact the college on 01422 399331.
Pictures © Alex Daniel Photography