Bradford went into the weekends fixtures knowing that they could all but secure their first division survival with a couple of wins against two of the teams that are below them in the table. Having already beaten Westminster Warriors on both of their previous meetings this season, the Dragons could be somewhat forgiven for a degree of complacency as they travelled to the capital.
The Dragons took an early lead, only ten seconds from the tip off, when Nicholas Moore sank his jump shot to open his account. It was a lead that Bradford were to maintain throughout the first quarter of the game, at one point stretching their advantage to nine points, before the hosts managed to peg it back to three by the end of the period (14-17).
That was as good as it got for the Dragons as Westminster took a firm hold on the game, opening up a ten-point lead of their own. Despite baskets from Moore and Rihards Sulcs, in the last minute of the half, the home side went back to the Locker room six points ahead, 45-39.
Chris Mellor’s half time team talk failed to make an impact as the Dragons found themselves falling further and further behind. At the half way point of the third quarter Westminster were firmly in control of the game, with a commanding eighteen-point advantage (61-43). This finally spurred Bradford into a mini revival, halving the hosts lead by the end of the penultimate period (65-56).
For the Dragons, Moore hit a game high 23 points, with Adria Rodriguez Vinas adding 12 points and both Sulcs and Jason Swaine sinking 11 points each.
The Dragons returned to their home court for Sunday’s contest against Tees Valley Mohawks. Past contests between these two sides have always been close and this game was to be no different.
Tip off was delayed slightly due to technical problems with the electronic scoreboards, however once resolved the game got off to a blistering start. The two teams matched each other basket for basket in the opening minutes and when Mohawks’ young coach, Jared Fulks, called the first time out, with five minutes gone, his team held a slender lead (12-14). However, the time out seemed to serve Bradford better and by the end of the quarter they were the custodians of a six-point lead, at 28-22.
A minute into the second period and Fulks was again forced to call time, with his side slipping to a ten point deficit. This was stretched even further to thirteen before the visitors suddenly switched up a gear. With under a minute of the first half remaining, it was Mellor that was calling the time-out with his team now behind, 39-45. The time out was extended into a lengthy delay, as further technical problems – this time with the shot clocks – held up proceedings. Once play eventually resumed, neither team managed to add to their totals before the buzzer went for half time.
Things improved for Bradford after the break and four minutes into the third period of play, Tees Valley called their third time-out with the Dragons once again leading, 50-48 and when the buzzer sounded at the three-quarter point of the game, the hosts were holding a 67-62 lead.
Although Bradford extended their lead to nine points, before Fulks called for time yet again, the visitors regrouped and somehow managed to pull the scores back level at 85 apiece. However, that was to be the visitors final score, whilst some great shooting saw the home side finish the game off, at 93-85.
Sulcs headed the Bradford score charts, with 23 points, whilst Moore put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jermayne Laing was also back in and amongst the scoring, finishing a fine personal performance with 17 points and evergreen Jason Swaine also contributed 15 to the victors total.
Reflecting on the weekends results, coach Mellor commented, “Westminster played harder than us, they beat us on the boards and never let us get in any kind of rhythm offensively. They are fighting to stay in the division and they played with that sort of urgency. Against Tees Valley, we started well but a poor second quarter left us behind at the break. We played some good defence in the second half, got the ball inside and got some easy ones in transition, which helped.”
The Dragons face a tough away double-header next weekend, visiting Lancashire Spinners on Saturday, followed by a trip to Reading Rockets on Sunday. The final home game of the season takes place on Saturday 12th March (6:15pm) against former BBL side Worthing Thunder.
Dragons under 18’s went down 48-57 at home to QE York Knights on Saturday, whilst the under 14’s beat Doncaster Danum Eagles, 61-40, also at home. On Sunday the under 16’s travelled to Trafford Magic, in Manchester, returning home on the wrong side of a 80-63 score line.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY