The South Coasters visited the Dragons Den for Bradford’s final home game of the 2015/16 season, on Saturday evening, inflicting defeat on Bradford for the second time this season. Another third quarter meltdown for the Bradford Dragons resulted in the Thunder returning home with the win, 78-87.
The game got off to a delayed start, due to problems with the electronic scoreboards for the second home game in a row. On this occasion, the technical difficulties were unable to be resolved and following lengthy discussions between the referees and the two team coaches it was decided to proceed with the game using more archaic methods of time and score keeping.
Into the second period of play and the two teams balanced each other out for the majority of the play, however when the two sides returned to the locker rooms at half time, Worthing had stolen the slight advantage, now leading 40-44.
Despite the best efforts of the technical crew, during the half time interval, the scoreboards were still inoperative throughout the second half of the game. However, Dragons’ coach, Chris Mellor, had more pressing things to worry about.
The Dragons stole first blood after the break, and with only a minute played, Worthing were forced into calling a timeout with Bradford now leading 46-44. However, soon after the tables were turned and it was Mellor’s turn to call for time with his side now trailing 46-48. But Mellor’s intervention was unable to halt the slide, and as has so often been the case this season the Dragons went into a third quarter melt down and finished the period down by seventeen points, at 53-70.
Bradford improved again in the fourth and final quarter, however they had given themselves too high a mountain to climb against a very competitive Worthing team. As the officials called the game to an end, the Dragons were still nine points adrift of the visitors total. The game ended at 78-87.
Massive appreciation is due to the two referees and to the table officials, who managed the game under very difficult circumstances, when it could have very easily been called off.
For the home side, Nicholas Moore finished the game with 21 points, whilst Dragons’ longest serving player, Rihards Sulcs was just one behind on 20 points.
Mellor said, after the game, “We were okay in the first half, but in the third quarter it got away from us. Their shooting percentage in the third must have been very high and even though we went on a run late, we were never going to get close. It was a poor performance overall.”
Although the Dragons home fixtures have come to an end this season they still have a couple more games to play, staring at the seasons stand out team, Manchester Magic, next Saturday and followed up a week later at fourth placed, Hemel Storm.
Although the Dragons currently sit six points above the relegation spots in the league table, it is mathematically possible, with other teams having games in hand, that they could yet get dragged into the dogfight. There is therefore still plenty to play for.
Bradford Dragons under 18’s beat York Eagles, 79-56, in the curtain raiser to Saturdays Division One game. Meanwhile, the under 16’s lost against Manchester Magic at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College (BBEC), whilst the under 14’s also beat York Eagles, 71-67. On Sunday, the under 14’s travelled the short distance to Leeds Force II, coming away with an emphatic victory 24-107.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY