Match Report: Bradford Dragons

Reading Rockets 90 – Bradford Dragons 93

In almost a repeat of the previous evening’s semi-final defeat for Rockets, a treble with 15.8 seconds remaining on the clock provided Rockets with a second tough loss on the road up north over the weekend. Jaz Bains hit a Rockets treble with 6.9 secs to go to get within a single point of Dragons but as Rockets had to foul to regain possession, Dragons hit a pair from the penalty stripe to take the win in a very competitive encounter at Dragons new venue, Calderdale College.

With Tyler Cartaino again proving Rockets highest points scorer, he again got Rockets off to a great first quarter start which ended with Rockets enjoying a 25-14 lead. Lewis Champion drove to open Rockets scoring and Meshack Lufile rejected Dragons first offensive play before he hit 3 personal points. A Cartaino treble, drive and finger roll was met with Dragons treble but excellent team play ended with Jaz Bains stroking a treble from out wide. Reis Pinnock took a charge and academy star Ronnie Oguekwe gave Lufile an assist for a slam dunk. Oguekwe made a brace of other notable plays scoring from a Bains assist and then taking down a key offensive rebound which ended with Lufile adding to Rockets score and giving them a opening quarter lead of 11 points.

Dragons are known for their fighting spirit and hit six unopposed points at the start of the second period before captain Ben Dixon scored with a lay-up. More points form Dragons ( 10-2 run saw Rockets Head Coach Dan Pearson call a time-out but nonetheless Dragons drew level on 29 and soon took the lead. Rockets found themselves in team foul trouble and the lead swapped hands frequently till the break when Rockets found themselves a single point adrift at 37-38.

The third quarter started as the second ended, both teams swapping the advantage with each possession until a Dragons treble saw them enjoy a 5 point lead at 52-47. Cartaino scored 6 unanswered points and Lufile made another rejection as Rockets drew level on 54, 56 and as the period ended on 63 a piece ensuring a tight finish again.

Lufile worked well inside to score and Oguekwe scored again though Dragons banked a treble to stay within a single point. Champion scored and took a charge , Cartaino drained a treble and Sam Toluwase made a pair of easy scores and off an offensive rebound to see Rockets ahead 80-71 with 3 minutes 35 seconds remaining. Dragons scored from the free throw line quickly followed by the first of three trebles causing consternation for Rockets as only Bains could find the ring beyond the arc. Dragons came back hard to take a 84-83 lead with a 13-3 run and the impetus from a Rockets team wearied after a very tough semi final the night before. Nonetheless Rockets played to the bitter end as they hit a treble with just 6.9 seconds remaining and getting within a single point of Dragons. However a brace from the free throw line saw Rockets travel back south disappointed but knowing ‘things can only get better’ as their injured players return.

Rockets are at home at Rivermead on Sunday 19th against Worthing Thunder tipping at 5 pm.