Bradford Dragons suffered back-to-back defeats this weekend as they lost 71-74 in their National League Division One game against Hemel Storm on Saturday, followed by an overtime defeat in the National Cup quarter final against Worthing Thunder, 83-92.
Saturday’s game saw the much anticipated arrival of American point guard Jeremee (J.P.) Davies to the Bradford roster, having only arrived in the UK on Friday morning.
Bradford were looking for their first ever victory over Hemel and took the opening quarter of the game with a slim 1 point advantage, entering the first break in play at 18-17. The second period followed continued along a similar script, with the home side’s advantage doubling by the half-time interval, with the scores at 39-37.
The game was two close to call, with both teams cancelling each other out, but by the end of the third quarter the visitors had turned the score in their favour, leading by a single point.at 58-59. The lead changed hands no fewer than 13 times over the course of the entire game, and was tied on 6 occasions, but it was Hemel that finished strongest, finishing the game with a 71-74 victory and leaving the Dragons still looking for that first elusive victory over the Storm.
Top scorer for the Dragons was Spaniard Miguel Lorenzo with 17 points, followed by Sulcs, who added another 11 points to his impressive start to the season.
Sunday saw the Dragons take a break from league action, appearing in their first National Cup quarter final tie. Their opposition, Worthing Thunder, who were playing in the British Basketball League three seasons ago, narrowly lost at home against Kent Crusaders on Saturday night, so both teams were keen not to draw a blank over the weekend.
It was another tight affair with the Dragons just having the edge in the initial period of play, leading 19-17 at the first break in play and narrowly holding on to lead 36-35 at half time.
The second half of the game was every bit as tense as the previous day, and by the end of the penultimate period Worthing had turned the score around to lead by a single point, with the score at 56-57.
When the Dragons bench called a timeout, with only 1 minute 21 seconds remaining on the clock, the Dragons were again in control, with a two point advantage over their guests. However, by the close of play Thunder had again pulled the game back to 72 apiece, sending the Dragons into their second overtime period on consecutive Sundays.
Just like the previous week, when the Dragons crashed to an 11 point defeat against Tees Valley Crusaders in overtime, the Dragons were again the slowest out of the blocks in the additional period and, for the second week on the trot, fell to an overtime whitewash. Bradford fought bravely to the end, but couldn’t muster up enough to prevent Worthing from ending the game as deserved victors. The game ended at 83-92 in the visitors’ favour, who now progress to the semi-final.
Rihards Sulcs led the scoring for the Dragons with 24 points, whilst the Latvian also notched up 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Newcomer Davies scored 13 points and ex-England international Jason Swaine contributed 12 to Bradford’s total.
After the game, Davies said, “I am really excited about finally getting to meet my teammates, and having the opportunity to get those first two games together. It’s imperative that we get to know each other and each other’s styles of play on the court. Obviously, I’m disappointed about the two defeats, but as I said those games were great opportunities for us to adapt to the varying styles of play and I am VERY optimistic about the future of this team. We’ll be back in the gym this week, working extremely hard to get ready to tackle our next task at hand.”
That ‘next task’ comes in the form of a double-header road trip, next weekend, with games at Westminster Warriors on Saturday evening and Essex Leopards on Sunday. The Dragons return home the following weekend, when they face current league leaders Derby Trailblazers at the Dragons Den on Sunday 30th November, 4:15pm.
Elsewhere for the Dragons, the under 14’s gained another emphatic victory at the weekend, this time beating Leeds Force II by 126 points to 8.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY