Bradford were still without the injured Rafi Saipe but were boosted by the additions of Tamás Szlávik, Maciek Kościuk and Jermayne Laing to their roster.
In contrast, the Tees Valley side, which included ex-Dragon Rob Donaldson, came out with all guns blazing and, within the first 6 minutes of the game, opened up a 14 point lead. Whilst the Dragons worked hard to reduce the deficit to only 7 points, by the end of the first quarter, they struggled to take any sort of control in the game and went into half time 32-41 down.
In the final phase of the game, the Dragons continued to pile on the pressure, scoring 12 points, without reply, to take a 73-61 lead. However, the visitors refused to give in, going on a points spree of their own and brought the score back to 73-72, with little over three minutes left on the clock.
Rihards Sulcs, who has been in inspiring form during the early part of the season, topped the scoring for the Dragons, with 33 points, whilst Vance Silcott came away with another double-double, 12 points and 13 rebounds. For the Mohawks, Donaldson put in an impressive performance with 19 points, bettered only by Romonn Nelson, who finished the game on 27.
Reflecting on the game, coach Mellor said, “They (Tees Valley) started well and we spent most of the game playing catch up. We finally got going in the third quarter and it looked like we might pull away to a big lead. But, but fair play to them for coming back with a big run and thankfully we managed to come up with some big baskets at the end.”
Sunday afternoon saw the arrival of Basketball England Division 2 side, Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows, into the Dragons Den for a National Cup second round tie.
The visiting team included two familiar faces, in Dennis Scott and Nathan Dacres, both of whom wore Dragons colours last season.
Unlike the previous evening, Bradford started the game in fine fettle, Miguel Lorenzo shooting them into an early 7 point lead. However, the Arrows fought hard and at the end of the first period of play the Dragons were holding on to a slim 2 point advantage at 19-17.
Bradford started to take a hold on the game during the second quarter, building the lead up to 14 points by the half-way point, Lorenzo shooting a very impressive 19 points during the opening half.
Continuing where they left off, the third period soon saw Bradford extending their lead to 23 points, with Rihards Sulcs, who had been uncharacteristically quiet until this point, starting to make an impact on the game. Although the Arrows, tried to recover the deficit the Dragons checked in to the final interval 63-46 up.
With such a powerful lead, going in to the final 10 minutes, you could forgive the home team for thinking that they had the game in the bag. However, coach Mellor will not have been pleased to see his side switch off, almost completely, allowing Derbyshire right back into the mix. The Dragons collapse, coupled with some strange refereeing decisions and an injury to Hungarian Tamás Szlávik, resulted in the Arrows pulling the game back to within a single point, with only seconds left on the clock. Bradford just managed to hold on for the win, finishing the game at 74-72.
Miguel Lorenzo finished the game as the Dragons top points scorer on 21, closely followed by Sulcs on 16. Captain, Vance Silcott hit another double-double, with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Mellor said, “We looked in control midway through the third quarter, but again lack of concentration and serious foul trouble put us in a situation where, if I’m honest, had we lost the game we would only have ourselves to blame. We came away from the weekend with two wins, but we have to play much better as we move forward.”
The Dragons now progress to the next stage of the competition, where they will play at Lancashire Spinners, who narrowly beat Liverpool to earn their place in the third round. The fixture will take place on Sunday October 26th.
Elsewhere for the Dragons, the under 18’s beat Hull Wasps, 102-74, in the Basketball England U18 Northern Conference, whilst the under 16’s went down 66-61, against local rivals Leeds Force, in the Basketball England U16 North Premier league.
Dragons’ juniors were also boosted this week by the announcement that both Zion Tordoff and Eisley Swaine have been called up to the England Under 16’s Men’s National Team, whilst Mate Okros was also named as Yorkshire’s only representative to be called up to the England Under 15’s Men’s National Development Program.
Photos supplied by Alex Daniel Photography