The two teams had already met twice this season, with Dragons winning 77-69 in the round-robin stages of the National Trophy and again 63-81 in the reverse league fixture and with a fourth meeting scheduled next month, in the National Trophy semi-final, both teams were keen to gain the psychological advantage.
It was the visitors that had the better of the opening exchanges, forcing Bradford’s coach Chris Mellor to call his first time out with less than 5 minutes played and his team already down by seven points. Despite temporarily pulling the score back to within three points, Leicester stretched it back out again and went into the first break at 20-28.
Despite a harsh team talk from Mellor at half time, things didn’t get any better for the hosts at the start of the third period as Leicester increased their lead to ten points. But with three minutes left of the quarter, the Dragons suddenly clicked into gear and at the final interval it was game on, with the Warriors advantage reduced to 2 points at 66-68.
With the momentum clearly in their favour, the home side went on a 10 point unanswered run at the start of the final quarter, to open up an eight point advantage of their own. Despite Leicester’s valiant attempts to get themselves back into the game the Dragons managed to keep them at arm’s length, finishing the game out with a 96-89 point victory.
The result means that Bradford leapfrog above Leicester in the league table and now occupy one of the eight coveted end-of-season play-off positions.
American J.P. Davis top scored for the Dragons with 26 points, however it was skipper Vance Silcott who came away with the plaudits, adding 13 rebounds to his 24 points to chalk up his trademark double-double. Bradford’s other American, Chris McGrew also sank an impressive 18 points to add to the Dragon’s total.
For Leicester, Kieran Mills scored 26 points, whilst Carl Pearson notched up 24 points on his first time back in the Den since enjoying a successful season with the Dragons last term.
After the game, Mellor said, “We were really poor in the first half. Our transition defence and half-court defence, especially off the dribble, was not good enough.
After the break we were much better and finally managed to get multiple stops and managed to get out running.
Giving up 89 points is not really what we are about but I’m happy to get the win against an extremely talented team.”
Elsewhere for the Dragons the under 16’s travelled to Notts Nova, coming away with a 54-69 victory.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY