Bradford Dragons travelled to Newcastle’s Sport Central for the second of their three National Trophy pool games. This weekend’s opponents, Team Northumbria, took the spoils with a convincing 80-66 victory in front of their home crowd, leaving Bradford with little other than Yorkshire pride to play for in their final Trophy game, next weekend.
Bradford just held the edge at the end of the first quarter, leading by a single basket, 17-19, but it didn’t take long before the home side took control of the game. Only five minutes into the second period and they had turned the scores around to lead by five, 30-25, a lead which they extended to twelve points (45-33) by the time the two sides went back to their locker rooms for the half time interval. For the second successive weekend Bradford faced an uphill struggle in the second half of the game.
Struggle they did and despite marginally reducing the deficit to nine points (57-46) at the mid-point of the third quarter, it was the hosts who extended their lead, ending the penultimate period of the game in the ascendancy, with the scores at 65-51.
It was game over for the Dragons as the final quarter followed a similar pattern to the previous two. At the final buzzer, Team Northumbria took the plaudits, whilst any hope of Bradford reaching the semi-final stage of the National Trophy was put on ice for another year.
Once again, it was Bradford’s two American imports that topped the scoring for the Dragons. Marcus Gooding bagged 19 points to finish as the games top scorer, closely followed by Ricky Fetske, who added 18 points of his own. Fetske just missed out on a double-double, collecting a total of nine rebounds.
For Team Northumbia, Blayne Freckleton put down 17 points and Siman Stewart contributed a further 13 points.
Reflecting on the defeat, Dragons’ head coach, Chris Mellor mused, “We rebounded the ball very poorly and our lack of ball movement offensively contributed to too many low percentage opportunities. Their defence was good and overall they played with more intensity than we did.”
Bradford now face a final Trophy fixture against rivals from across the Pennines, Lancashire Spinners. Like the Dragons, Spinners have also gone 0/2 in their opening pool games and therefore both teams will be playing to avoid finishing at the foot of their group. The game takes place on Saturday, 1st October, at the Dragons Den (6:15pm). Discounted tickets for the game are available online via the Dragon’s website (www.bradforddragons.co.uk).
Team Northumbria will now travel to Manchester Magic to determine which of the two will make it through to the semi-final stage of the competition.
Bradford Dragons Under 16’s started their league campaign with an 81-57 victory against Sheffield Junior Sharks II, at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College on Sunday Morning. Joe Barrett impressed for Bradford, top scoring with 23 points.