The Warriors marched into the Den in a confident mood, having beaten title contenders Derby Trailblazers the previous week. However, with only five minutes of the game played, the Westminster coach called his first timeout, with his team trailing 19-10.
It was an inspired timeout, as by the end of the first quarter the deficit had been reduced to only two points, with the scores at 24-22 in the Dragons’ favour.
The second period of play looked to be following a similar pattern, with the Dragons opening the lead back up to nine points and forcing their visitors to call another timeout midway through the quarter. However, this time there was to be no recovery and it was the Dragons that took a twelve point lead, at 51-39, back to the locker room at the halfway point.
Westminster never threatened to get close and at the end of the penultimate period the Dragons had all but secured the victory, holding a massive twenty-three point advantage at 79-56.
The visitors were determined to go down fighting (literally) and with only three and a half minutes of the game remaining the Westminster number 14, Michael Odomosu, grabbed Dragons’ point guard, Jeremee Davis, in a headlock and pulled him to the ground, in what seemed like an unprovoked attack...
With the spirit gone from the game, the remaining players simply went through the motions of seeing the clock run down for what was left of the game, with the home side taking the honours, with a 94-71 victory.
Miguel Lorenzo topped the scoring for the Dragons with 24 points, followed by Davis (19 points) and Rihards Sulcs (17 points).
Dragons coach, Chris Mellor, reflected on the victory by saying, “In the first half we traded baskets far too often but our defence stepped up in the second half and we got ourselves a nice cushion. The incident near the end, with both benches clearing, was disappointing but I don’t blame J.P. (Davis) for any part of it and I hope that the league take suitable action.”
On Sunday, it was the turn of Essex Leopards to enter the Den, who had come back from a fifteen point halftime deficit to beat Hemel Storm the previous evening.
Despite the Dragons taking an early lead, it was the Leopards that held the advantage at the first break, 16-18. Whilst the Dragons huffed and puffed, they were unable to breathe fire into their performance and at the midpoint of the game they found themselves thirteen points down, at 31-44.
Essex maintained their lead throughout the third quarter and although the Dragons fought hard, they were unable to mount an attack, finishing the game twelve points behind at 63-75.
Sulcs sank 19 points to lead the scoring for the Dragons, with Davis on 15 points and John Bantock on 10 points.
Mellor commented after the game, “I thought we competed hard, but we went 0-13 from the three point line compared to their 10-24 and that was the difference between the sides.”
The Dragons travel to Derby next Saturday, before returning to the Dragons Den on Sunday afternoon, 8th March, for the visit of Kent Crusaders (4:15pm).
Elsewhere for the Dragons, the under 16’s enjoyed a double celebration, winning away at Toxteth Tigers, 53-69, on Saturday, followed by a 109-94 home victory against Northamptonshire Titans, on Sunday.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY