The Dragons travelled to Sport Central, in Newcastle, still looking for their first victory of the league season and facing up against a side that had only lost one of their opening league fixtures.
Bradford welcomed back Jason Swaine to their starting five, having been sidelined for the last three weeks through injury. Swaine lined up alongside his son, Eisley Swaine, who has established himself as a regular starter in recent games. Meanwhile, American Power Forward, Ricky Fetske, faced up against the side that he left the Dragons for, following his first stint in Bradford colours, in 2013.
The time out proved a good call as the Dragons went on an eight point streak of their own, to narrow the gap to a single point. However, there was still time for the Newcastle team to pull away again and the first quarter ended with the home side leading, 25-20.
The hosts pulled away, yet further, in the opening minutes of the second quarter, building up a thirteen point advantage, 42-29 with less than three minutes of the first half remaining. But, for the remainder of the period, Bradford managed to shut their hosts out and pulled themselves back into contention, assisted by a sweet three-pointer from young Eisley. As the teams trudged back to the locker rooms, for half time refreshments, the home side led by four, 42-38.
It took a couple of minutes, after the interval, before either team added points to the board. However, a foul on Ricky Fetske as he lined up a three point shot allowed him to go to the free throw line and bring the Dragons back to within one. This was followed up by a pair of three pointers, one from each of Bradford’s two Americans, Moore and Fetske, which put Bradford into the driving seat for the first time in the game. The visitors took advantage of their momentum and closed out the penultimate period with a ten point advantage, at 54-64.
Eisley Swaine opened the final period with another three pointer, to increase the Dragons’ lead to thirteen points. However, slowly Team Northumbria managed to claw themselves back into the reckoning and with little more than two minutes of play remaining the scores were levelled, at seventy-five apiece. The two sides battled, once again matching each other shot for shot, throughout the remainder of the game. However, it was the home side that made the final score to end the match as victors, 86-83, and leaving Bradford still looking for that all elusive victory.
Henri Bongoma headed the scoring for Bradford, taking a personal total of 23 points, supported by Jason Swaine (15 points), Nick Moore and Eisley Swaine (14 points each) and Ricky Fetske (12 points). Moore also made 15 rebounds for the Dragons, to notch up yet another double-double.
Reflecting on the game, Chris Mellor said, “They shot 18/31 from 3 point line which was a massive factor but we managed to get control of the game midway through the 3rd quarter but we made too many mistakes with fouls and rebounding assignments late to close the game out.”
Basketball returns to the Dragons’ Den next weekend, with a home fixture against fellow strugglers Westminster Warriors, who are one of only three teams (including Bradford) looking for their first victory of the season. The fixture takes place in the Bradford College Sports Hall (Trinity Road) on Saturday evening with tip off at 6:15pm.