Bradford Dragons picked up their first league win of the season with a three points victory [85-88] against the Essex Rebels on Saturday afternoon.
The Rebels, currently sitting bottom of the table, had a 0- 5 record going into Saturday afternoon's fixture. Also winless, the Dragons, had failed to win in their first four games of the campaign, having played one game less than their hosts, due to last weekends postponement against the Nottingham Hoods. Whatever the result that would be at least one less team without a win by the end of the afternoon.
The game started at frantic pace, with the ball going end to end but with neither team able to convert their opening offences. With a minute and a half played, Essex put the first points on the board with a tray from that captain, Tom child. The Dragons responded immediately through a two-point lay up by their American big, Ricky Fetske. Fouled whilst shooting, Fetski went to the line for an additional shot; however, he failed in his attempt to tie the game.
Essex briefly took the lead once again, but the game swung back in Bradford’s favour and when Towell popped in his first trey of his Dragons account, with 1:29 remaining of the opening period, their lead was up to 5 (15-20). Despite the home side closing the gap, their final basket was ruled out, as being just after the buzzer, and the Dragons finished the opening quarter two points up at 20-22.
Essex did however manage to level the scores at the start of the second period, although a three pointer from Dave Walsh, on the next offence, quickly restored the visitor’s lead. The game continued at pace, with the two sides matching one another basket for basket and when the buzzer sounded for half time there was a single, solitary point between the teams (41-42).
After the restart we saw a rare air-ball from Dave Walsh and a missed jump-shot from Fetske, but the Rebels were unable to capitalise at the other end. A sweet one two between Gachette and Jabari Edwards brought about the first points of the quarter, with Gachette laying up for two points.
As the period progressed, the Rebels struggled to hit their shots, whilst at the other end of the court Gachette was finding it too easy to sneak inside to the basket and Walsh hit a hot streak from beyond the arc. Bradford ended the quarter with a twelve point advantage (56-68).
Bradford continued to dominate from the start of the fourth, albeit only increasing their lead by a further two points.
Confusion arose when the ball bounced off the rim from a Ben Winter three-point attempt; with the player picking up his own rebound he drove to the basket and as Fetske was moving in to block his path, Mayo Adeyeye hauled the big man to the ground, providing free passage to the Basket for Winter. The referee called the foul, whilst still awarding the two points to the hosts.
With just three minutes of the game remaining, the Dragons were sat comfortably with a 12 point lead. But then, it almost turned sour as the Rebels played the full court press, forcing turnovers from the Dragons and clawed their way right back into the reckoning, and the score back to within two.
Gachette was fouled and sent to the line for two shots which could have put the game beyond the Rebels’ reach. He hit the first, but the second bounced back off the rim into the hands of Winter. The Rebels went straight down the other end, where the ball was passed to Child, who launched a shot from beyond the arc, to take the game into overtime; however, the ball ran round the rim and back out into the safe arms of Fetske, just as the buzzer announced the end of the game (85-88).
The Dragons picked up their first win of the campaign (1-4), whilst the Essex still await their first for the season (0-6), but on Saturday’s performance that will surely come soon.
For Bradford, Zach Gachette put up an incredible 35 points, to lead all scorers, whilst Walsh and Fetske added 18 and 15 respectively. Meanwhile, Rory Winter headed the Rebels scorers with a very respectable 22 points.
The Dragons have a home double-header in the Bradford College Sports Hall this weekend, entertaining Oakland Wolves (1-5) on Saturday (6:15pm), followed by a National Cup fourth round tie against the Derby Trailblazers on Sunday (4:15pm). Tickets can be purchased in advance via bradforddragons.co.uk/tickets.html, with an online only offer of buy one game and get the other for half price.
Photo credits: @sam_ayim.j