Although, Ricky Fetske won the tip-off for Bradford, it was the home side that put the first score on the board, before Rihards Šulcs (sponsored by Templewood Photography) levelled with a reverse layup. But, Leicester took hold of the opening minutes and opened up a seven-point lead, 9-2.
Rafi Saipe (sponsored by Made4Fighters) stepped up with a long distance three and then, when former Dragon, Carl Pearson, missed his layup at the other end, Šulcs took full advantage with another two off the back board (9-7).
Another two from Saipe, quickly followed by a layup from Fetske, saw Bradford level the game at eleven points each at the half way point of the opening quarter and then Fetske popped up again to give Bradford their first lead of the game, 11-13.
The game stayed close through the rest of the period, and as the buzzer sounded to signal the first scheduled break in play, the scores were even, at 22-22.
The second period started in the similar fashion to the first, with Leicester drawing first blood and again opening up a seven-point lead. Šulcs got two back for Bradford and then, after Leicester had hit two of his own, Marcus Gooding (sponsored by Gooding Funeral Services) shimmied past Leicester’s Brown to put up his first points of the game.
Leicester’s coach, Karl Brown, called for time, but when play restarted it was Fetske who popped up with a two to give the Dragons the lead. But, it was Leicester’s half and despite another lay-up by Šulcs, the home side went back to the locker rooms on the right end of a 44-41 score-line.
Once again, the hosts put up the first points after the break, but baskets from Šulcs and Eisley Swaine, quickly brought the visitors back level (46-46). Three and a half minutes in, Swaine bucketed another two points to give Bradford the advantage, which was then doubled by another layup from Latvian, Šulcs.
With just over two and a half minutes remaining, the hosts regained their lead (58-56), but then a three from Saipe quickly put the visitors back in charge. The Warriors hit back with a three of their own but, in the final second of the penultimate period, Gooding struck another of the same to send the Dragons into the final ten minutes with a single point advantage, 61-62.
The visitors upped their intensity, both offensively and defensively and five points from Gooding, at the start of the final quarter, followed by two from Fetske and the same from Jermayne Laing, put the Dragons ten points up (61-71) within three minutes of the restart.
With just four minutes remaining, that gap was down to just seven points, 67-74, but then a two and a three in quick succession from the in-form Gooding, prompted another Leicester time-out, with Bradford ahead by nine, 74-83, and less than two minutes on the clock.
With eight seconds remaining, Gooding downed another three to finish out the game, with an eleven-point victory for the Dragons (77-88).
It was Gooding that recorded the game high score, with 24 points (six rebounds) whilst both Fetske and Šulcs recorded double doubles with 20 points (14 rebounds) and 17 points (10 rebounds) respectively.
As ever, Bradford’s head coach, Chris Mellor gave an honest summary of the game. “I wasn’t happy with our first half performance at all, but after the break we were tough defensively, rebounded well and showed good poise offensively, to close the game out against a dangerous Leicester side.”
With the closure of the transfer window looming, the Dragons have strengthened their roster, with the addition of 6’1” British-American guard, Disraeli (Dizzy) Lufadeju – formerly of Leeds force and Worcester Wolves.
Mellor says of his new acquisition, “Disraeli is a very good defensive player, who rebounds well. He’s also a good athlete who can create things off the dribble offensively.
“He fits in with what we are trying to do at the club and I’ve been impressed with his attitude, work-ethic and character.”
Top scorers for the under sixteens were Great Osobor (26 points), Olufemi Bright (22 Points) and A Kildisas (18 points).