Bradford Dragons hosted Newcastle University at the Inspire Centre on Saturday evening, in their latest National Basketball League Division One fixture. The Dragons were subjected to a twelve-point defeat, with the Tynesiders taking the win, 93-105.
This was the second time that the sides have met so far this season, with the Dragons recording a seven point victory in the group stage of the KitKing Trophy back in September. Whilst the Dragons have since qualified for the Trophy final, results in the league have not exactly gone their way, despite putting in consistently strong performances – evidenced by the fact that despite winning only two of their seven games leading up to this one they were sat on a zero points difference.
Newcastle meanwhile had so far only played four league fixtures to date, winning two and losing two, and sat just behind Bradford in the league table with a -19 points difference. But, with the two sides set to meet for a third time in the fifth round of the National Cup in a couple of weeks, both sides would have been keen to put down a marker in this fixture.
Newcastle made their mark early, putting up the first six points of the game inside the opening sixty seconds of play, giving them the early lead – one which they maintained throughout the entire game. That lead fluctuated between three points and nine points over the first quarter, but as the buzzer sounded to announce the first scheduled break it was a seven point gap, with the score at 23-30.
The second period followed a very similar pattern with Newcastle increasing their lead by a further four points going into the half time interval (38-49).
After the interval, as could have been expected, the Dragons came out with a clear determination to claw their way back into the game. Justin Willams (sponsored by the Ireland Family) opened the quarter with a successful lay-up and when Jordan Whelan (sponsored by Napoleon’s Casino and Restaurant, Bradford) hit a trey two minutes in, Newcastle’s head coach Mark Elderkin, was forced into calling a time-out, in an attempt to stem the flow of Bradford’s fight back (45-52).
And stem the flow they did, as Newcastle started to stretch out their lead again. But on the whole, this was Bradford’s best period of the game taking the quarter by three and reducing Newcastle’s lead to just eight points (72-80), to give them a fighting chance going into the final period.
The lead was further reduced to just five points early in the fourth quarter and was still at five half way through the period (81-86). But Newcastle then hit a purple patch and within two minutes their advantage was up to sixteen points (85-101), with only three minutes remaining. That was too big an ask from Bradford, despite pulling the scores back to within ten points. One last basket from Newcastle was enough to kill off any Bradford momentum and they saw the game out to take the win by a twelve-point margin (93-105).
Zion Tordoff (sponsored by Bubbles and Barks Dog Grooming) took his fourth Calderdale College Player of the Game Award of the season, heading the Bradford scorers with 24 points whilst also taking 12 rebounds to register a double-double. Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd.) contributed 22 points to the Dragons’ total, whilst Jordan Whelan (18 points) and Justin Williams (14 points) were also in double figures.
Logan Rooney topped the scorers for the victorious Newcastle side, netting a game high 29 points. Justin Hopkins added 23 points and Emmanuel Kanwei contributed a further 19 points. Newcastle’s captain, Theo Riley was also in double digits with 12 points.
The two sides meet again on 10 December in the National Cup, with the game being held at the Newcastle University Sport and Fitness Centre. But before then the Dragons have two more league fixtures to take care of.
This Saturday they travel to the South Coast home of Worthing Thunder. Thunder have been one of the more dominant sides of the past few seasons, but like Bradford they have struggled to pick up the wins this time around and currently sit just one place below the Dragons on points difference.
Then the following Saturday, 9 December, the current league leaders, Derby Trailblazers visit the Dragons’ Den, for what will effectively be a dress rehearsal for the KitKing Trophy final. Tickets are now on sale via the club’s website.