On the opening weekend of the 2021/22 National Basketball League season, the Bradford Dragons succumbed to a heavy defeat [91- 67] away at Team Newcastle University.
The two sides had only met one week previous, when they played out a thrilling group game in the L Lynch Trophy. Having trailed throughout most of the game, the Dragons had fought back to push the fixture into overtime, only to face the disappointment of a single point defeat, rendering the Dragons’ remaining group fixture, against Myerscough Basketball, meaningless.
The Dragons travelled light, up to the North East, with only three players on the bench. But that didn't stop them from putting the first points on the board, a two point layup by new signing Zach Gachette.
After a slow start to the second quarter, Newcastle once again began to edge away and halfway through the period the gap was once again back to nine points [31- 22]. With the Dragons struggling to find their rhythm, they couldn't prevent the home side from entering the half time interval weather commanding twelve point advantage [42- 30].
After the interval, the gap was quickly extended to fifteen, when Brandon Federici bucketed a three pointer in the opening play of the half. Bradford huffed and puffed and, despite pulling the game back to single figures, they were unable to stop Team Newcastle pulling away again. Their lead extended to twenty points [63-43], with just ninety seconds of the quarter remaining, And although a mini offensive revival by the visitors pulled the game back to fourteen points, a further Federici basket saw The hosts finish the penultimate quarter sixteen points clear [65- 49].
There was no let up for Bradford in the final period, in which the home side enjoyed their highest points tally of the game and, for all their efforts, the Dragons had nothing in their arsenal to prevent Team Newcastle from registering the first win of the season by an Imposing twenty-four points [91- 67].
Gachette led the Dragons scorers with 17 points, also adding a formidable 16 rebounds to register a double-double on his debut league fixture for Bradford. Jermayne Laing contributed a further 16 points to the Dragons’ total, whilst Rihards Šulcs and Ricky Fetske added 14 and 11 points respectively.
The game high went to Federici, who amassed a phenomenal 37 points, whilst teammate Ronald Blaine registered a home double-double, with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Never one to waste his words, Dragons’ Head Coach, Chris Mellor, summed the game up in one statement, saying, “We were poor defensively and never really got a foothold in the game after the first quarter.”
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography