By Tom Lamming (Student Press Officer)
Bradford Dragons fell to a narrow 73-68 road defeat against the 12-5 Trailblazers in NBL Division One action on Saturday afternoon.
Another monumental second-half comeback looked to be on the cards for Dragons, but a scoreless final four minutes allowed the Trailblazers to grind out the victory.
With the Dragons 32-point comeback on March 20th against Derby still fresh in the memory, Coach Mellor’s team came into Saturday’s game looking to make it two straight wins against the hosts.
With several key players still missing through injuries, the Dragons makeshift rotation equipped themselves well, opening the game on a 12-6 run.
All five Dragons starters scored in the run as Elijah Walsh knocked down a three and dished out two assists.
The visitors looked locked in early, but a string of sloppy turnovers allowed the fourth-seeded Trailblazers to work their way into the game.
Blake Bowman and Joshua Guddemi combined to score 11 of the hosts’ 20 first quarter points as they led 20-17 after the opening ten minutes of play.
After a tight opening period, the Dragons offense began to stall as Derby scored eight straight points to open the second quarter.
Guddemi continued to frustrate Dragons as he scored five quick points to open the period.
Dragons youngster Great Osobor scored the visitors’ first point of the quarter at the free-throw line, almost four minutes into the period.
The hosts’ onslaught didn’t stop there though, with the Dragons struggling to generate anything on the offensive end, Derby closed the quarter on a 13-5 run.
Outscoring the visitors 21-8 in the period, Derby led Dragons 41-25 after a less than impressive second quarter.
Shooting just 8-32 in the first half with 12 turnovers, the visitors had it all to do in the second half.
In need of a response, whatever Coach Mellor had said at the half, had the desired effect as Dragons fought back in the penultimate quarter.
Once again, it was the play of the Dragons two, young starlets Walsh and Osobor, which sparked the fightback.
First, it was the turn of Great Osobor, who scored the visitors first eight points of the quarter to cut the lead down to 43-33.
Then came a spell of brilliance from his partner in crime, Elijah Walsh, who scored or assisted, on the next, four Dragons offensive possessions to reduce the deficit to 48-42.