Bradford Dragons return to action in the Dragons Den this weekend for the first time in almost a month. Since the January 26th 91-83 victory over the Worthing Thunder, the Dragons have been in red hot form, winning three straight games, and six of their last seven. Improving the team’s record to two games over .500 for the first time this season (10-8).
A fascinating weekend of NBL Division One action awaits for Dragons. First up on Saturday is a 6.15pm tip-off against runaway league leaders and BBL Trophy finalists Solent Kestrels. Followed on Sunday by a clash against the 6-13 Nottingham Hoods, tipping off at 4.15pm.
Sitting on top of the NBL Division One standings, the Kestrels’ are on a 16-game unbeaten league run this season and lost their first game in almost a calendar year, last weekend at the BBL’s Bristol Flyers (92-73) in the BBL Trophy Semi-Final. Despite the second-leg defeat, the 176-159 aggregate victory saw Solent make history as they became the first-ever NBL side to reach the BBL Trophy Final.
Saturday’s clash marks the third meeting between the teams this season. Dragons lost 107-79 down in Southampton in early November but produced a much-improved performance just a few weeks later in the National Cup tie in Bradford. Losing 87-77 in the Fourth-Round tie as Rihards Šulcs led all scorers with 22 points.
Hopeful it’s third time lucky this weekend, the Dragons will look for a repeat of last season’s exploits and end the Kestrels unbeaten league run at the Dragons Den. Ending Solent’s ten-game unbeaten start to the 2018/19 season as Dragons clinched an impressive 86-83 victory.
Key Player – Travis Charles
In his second season with Solent, Charles is averaging 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The 24-year-old American is ranked in the top 10 in points, rebounds and efficiency in Division One. The forward notably notched 22 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action in the side’s first meeting of the season on November 2 nd.
The Hoods travel to West Yorkshire looking to extend their winning run after last Sunday’s 115-106 home victory over the Westminster Warriors. 1-5 since the turn of the new year, Sunday’s clash at the Dragons Den presents Nottingham with the opportunity to cut the gap to the Dragons, down to six points.
Sitting in 10 th place with a 6-13 record on the season, Nottingham is certainly not a team to be taken lightly given their away form this season. The Hoods have sealed four of their six victories on the road, including a noteworthy 102-95 victory over the second-seeded Thames Valley Cavaliers in November.
The Hoods also narrowly fell to the third-seeded Hemel Storm 88-85 on the road, on the opening day of the season. A sign of their ability to match the top teams in the division. The last time the two teams met, the Dragons secured a first road victory of the season with a 99-82 victory on November 16 th, 2019.
Key Player - Demetrius Houston
In his first season in Nottingham, Houston is averaging 18.6 points in 29.7 minutes per game. Shooting 47.8% from the field and 34.9% from three-point range, the 22-year-old American is leading the Hoods in scoring. The guard has also produced eight games where he has scored over 20 points and three games with 30+ points in 19 games so far this season.
Chris Mellor on the Dragons recent form.
“Our last two away games saw us come away with victories at Liverpool and Barking where we weren’t at our best but both teams are fighting to stay alive and fought really hard.”
Continuing, Coach Mellor was complementary about Saturday’s opponents as they make the long journey to West Yorkshire.
“Solent comes here having had an amazing season up to now with the National Cup already secured and a BBL final to come, and an unbeaten record so far in Division One. I think most people in our league are fully behind them for the BBL Trophy final and it would be great if they could take another BBL scalp against either the Newcastle Eagles or Cheshire Phoenix.”
Coach Mellor’s thoughts ahead of the second installment in this weekend’s doubleheader, where the Dragons face off against the Nottingham Hoods.
“Nottingham Hoods have a team with a lot of talent and have had a bad time of it this season with injuries and players missing. So, we are fully aware of the threats they have now they are nearly at full strength again.”
“With 8 games left we are in a playoff position and we just need to keep playing hard and consistent as the season reaches its climax.”
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography