Northumbria have proved to be one of the major players in division one this season and are currently in contention for a home berth when the end of season playoffs come around. As was to be expected, they started the game strongly, taking a quick lead and holding it for the majority of the first period. However, as the game progressed, Bradford were visibly growing in confidence and, with only a couple of seconds remaining before the buzzer, a Dwayne Camille jump shot gave the home side a first quarter lead, 24-23.
The confidence on the court was echoed by the crowd, who were the most vocal they had been for quite some time, a true sign that things are improving, week-on-week, in the Bradford camp. The vociferous support spurred the Dragons on through the second period of the game, during which their lead was extended to five points. Chris Mellor was by far the happier of the two coaches, as the teams returned to the locker rooms with the scores at 46-41 in Bradford’s favour.
Northumbria started the final period with renewed vigour, despite Nicholas Moore putting up an early two points to stretch the home advantage. But, with less than a minute of the quarter played, it was clear that the balance of play had shifted dramatically, forcing coach Mellor into an early timeout with his side only seven ahead (67-60).
The team talk settled things down temporarily and the Dragons saw out the next couple of minutes, increasing their advantage back to ten points (71-61) before a combination of missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls, coupled with vast improvement in the visitors shot accuracy, saw the game tied at 73 apiece, by the mid-point of the period. But still the Dragons weren’t done, opening up another slender lead which they maintained up until the three-quarter stage of the final phase of play.
However, that was as much as the home side could muster up, as Team Northumbria took a firm hold on the final couple of minutes and, even accounting for a couple of questionable refereeing decisions in their favour (for which the home crowd made their opinion perfectly clear), they finished out the game as worthy winners (82-88).
Sulcs put in an MVP performance for the home side, achieving a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds, whilst Nicholas Moore also put 16 points towards the Dragons’ total.
After the game, coach Mellor commented on the performance, “We did a lot of positive things, once again, but ultimately we gave up thirty-two points in the last quarter, after playing good defence for most of the game. Even though the referees will be the main focus of attention for some of what they called in the last minute we only have ourselves to blame.”
Bradford now face a vital double-header next weekend, at Westminster Warriors on Saturday, followed by a home fixture against Tees Valley Mohawks in the Dragons Den on Sunday (4:15pm). Both teams currently sit behind the Dragons, in the division one table and victories in both of these games would finally put any fears of relegation well and truly to bed.
The Dragons under 18’s team went down 87-55 at Leeds Tigers on Saturday in the Under 18’s North-East Development league, whilst the under 14’s took the spoils in an away fixture against Newcastle Eagles, beating them by twelve points, 64-76.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY