It was a weekend of high drama for the Bradford Dragons as they got their first league win of the season, beating Team Northumbria 73-69 on Saturday evening, but lost against Tees Valley Mohawks, 92-81, in overtime on Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday, the Dragons were looking to extract revenge for the Newcastle based team's victory against them in the National Trophy four weeks ago. However, it was the visitors that got the better of a close opening quarter, taking a slim three point lead into the first break.
The Dragons struggled to make any significant impact on the second quarter and, by half time, Team Northumbria’s lead had been extended to 9 points, with the score at 26-35.
Going into the final quarter, still trailing by 8 points, the Dragons were facing a tough ask to pull the game around. But, encouraged by the rejuvenated crowd the home side put together a run of 10 points, unanswered, to take the lead for the first time since the first period, going on to finish the game with a 73-69 victory.
Head coach, Chris Mellor, commented after the game that, “there weren’t many positives in the first half. We turned the ball over far too often and couldn’t get anything going offensively. However, we came out much more focussed after the break, played harder, rebounded better and got the big stops down the end to pull out the win.”
Jermayne Laing top scored for the Dragons with 17 points, whilst Vance Silcott was once again the most effective player with 14 points and 13 rebounds, to record his customary double-double. After some disappointing performances in recent weeks, John Bantock put in a good display, in front of his family, who had flown across from Canada for the weekend, with a tally of 13 points.
On Sunday, the Dragons travelled to Middlesborough to face Tees Valley Mohawks, who had returned from beating Hemel Storm the previous evening.
It was set up to be a close and tense affair and the game did not disappoint. Tees Valley held a slim 3 point lead at the end of the first quarter, which was cancelled out in the second with the teams entering the half time interval all square at 38 points apiece.
The second half of the game followed a similar pattern, with the home side leading by 5 points at the end of the penultimate period.
In the fourth quarter, the Mohawks opened their lead up to 9 points, before the Dragons went on an unreciprocated twelve point run of their own, to take back control of the game. The lead changed hands again before Jason Swaine scored one of his trademark three pointers to tie things up and the home side missed the final shot, taking the game into a period of overtime.
The extra minutes proved too much for a weary Dragons team and the home side totally dominated the additional period, taking the honours with a 92-81 victory.
Mellor said, “We didn’t compete well enough on the boards and defensively we allowed too many of their players to get going. We missed some easy stuff around the rim and the overtime period got away from us far too quickly.
John Bantock put in another impressive performance and was joint top scorer with Rihards Sulcs, both players scoring 17 points each. Jason Swaine capped a notable game with 13 points and Tamas Szlavik also added 12 points to his account for the season.
Next Saturday (15th November) the Dragons entertain Hemel Storm, in another National Basketball League Division One match up, with a 6:15pm tip-off. This will be followed by another home game on Sunday afternoon, with the National Cup quarter final game against Worthing Thunder. Sunday’s game starts at 4:15pm and tickets for both games are available through the Dragons website, or on the door on game days.
Elsewhere for the Dragons, the under 18’s recorded an 86-73 win against Gateshead, whilst the under 14’s produced an emphatic 38-120 victory at York Eagles. Both teams currently sit top of their respective league tables.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY