It was a game that in reality meant little to either team, with neither side able to qualify for the semi-final stage of the tournament, other than to determine who would finish bottom of the group and of course the usual Yorkshire Lancashire rivalry.
Lancashire are now entering their second season in the top flight of the English game, having finished in a very respectable sixth position at the first time of asking. However, like Bradford, their roster has seen considerable change for this season and as yet they have failed to meet the levels of their previous campaign.
The home side looked comfortable and held their guests at arm’s length throughout the second period. As the teams left the court at half time the Dragons were in control, with the scoreboard showing them in front by fourteen points, 47-33.
Whether it was complacency on Bradford’s part, or a renewed determination by the Spinners, the third quarter was much more worrying for the home side. Lancashire seemed to have found their rhythm, sinking shots from distance whilst Bradford, on the other hand, appeared to have somewhat lost their bearings. At the end of the penultimate period, the Dragons still held the lead however only by a much less convincing six points (58-52).
Into the final period and, whilst it was Bradford who put the first points of the quarter on the board, Lancashire still continued to press putting the home side under pressure. However, the visitors’ eagerness to take the game to Bradford very quickly saw them entering into foul trouble and the flow of the game again swung in the Dragons’ favour. As the game came to a close, the home team had restored a sixteen-point gap and took the plaudits with a 92-76 victory.
For the Dragons, both American Marcus Gooding and Latvian Rihards Sulcs scored twenty-four points a-piece, whilst Bradford’s other American, Ricky Fetske also netted twenty-one. Jack Hudson led the scoring for the Spinners, also with twenty-one points.
Reflecting on his sides first victory of the season, Dragons head coach, Chris Mellor stated, “Obviously it it’s nice to get a win, even though we are out of the Trophy. I thought we played okay at both ends but our defensive concentration and rebounding need to improve moving forward.”
And forward they go, into the opening weekend of the National Basketball Division One campaign, next Saturday (8th October) at Derby Trailblazers (tip off 7:15pm). Basketball returns to the Dragons Den the following weekend. In the first game of a double-header the Dragons again host Lancashire Spinners, this time in the league, on Saturday 15th October at 6:15pm. The following afternoon, Bradford enter the National Cup, at the third-round stage, with a home tie against Team Newcastle University (4:15pm).
In other news from the Dragon’s Juniors, both Haben Malcolm-Warner and Joseph Barrett become the latest Bradford players to join the England set-up, having been called up to the initial draft for the under 15/16 squad, following their recent performances in the regional development tournament at the National Basketball Performance Center in Manchester, last month.
Photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY