BRADFORD Dragons comfortably beat Team Newcastle University (88-51) and Manchester Magic (94-71) to book their place in this season’s National Trophy semi-finals.

On Saturday, the Dragons travelled to Newcastle for their first competitive fixture of the basketball season, having been placed in Pool A of the National Trophy alongside Newcastle, Manchester and Team Northumbria.

The latter have since withdrawn, and with Newcastle beating Manchester, they knew a win against the Dragons would guarantee their progress. The Dragons were quickest out of the blocks though, building up an early six-point lead.

Bradford’s Ricky Fetske, Jermayne Laing and Rihards Šulcs helped to maintain that gap as the visitors ended the first quarter 20-14 in front.

Newcomers Drexler Clark and Clayfell Harris scored their first two points for the Dragons and successive threes from Festske and Andreas Lycoudis helped extend Bradford’s lead to 37-24 at the half-time interval.

The third period opened with Clarke bucketing a three and Newcastle soon found themselves 17 points behind. Allie Fullah contributed nine points late on to stretch the Dragons’ lead to 63-41.

Within seconds of the restart, Lycoudis sank a two and the hosts had little answer to the Dragons’ late fire and were thrashed by 37 points.

Fetske and Lycoudis scored 18 and 17 points respectively, while Šulcs registered a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Bradford knew a home win over Manchester Magic would therefore see them into the last four.

Šulcs and Laing both netted twos before Magic had produced a single shot. The visitors did pull level, but a rampant Dragons side soon went 18-5 ahead.

Manchester called a timeout and that seemed to galvanise them, as they reached the buzzer only 24-19 behind.

The second quarter saw the game remain a close run affair, and the Dragons only led 44-39 at the break.

A long distance three from Manchester made it a one-point ball game, but the visitors were soon blown away by the Dragons, who ended the third period 68-55 in front.

The Dragons closed out the game comfortably to secure their place in January’s semi-finals, when they will face early-season favourites, Worthing Thunder.

Laing was man of the match, after topping the Bradford scorers with 23 points, while Clark contributed an impressive 22 points to the team’s total.

Head coach, Chris Mellor, reflected: “It’s nice to start with two wins in the Trophy and we can forget about that until January now.

"It’s still early days but I’m happy with how we are progressing, and we executed some of the things we’ve been working on at both ends in pre-season.”

The Dragons open their National Basketball League Division One campaign this Saturday with a home fixture against newly-promoted Nottingham Hoods, with the tip-off at 6:15pm.