Derby finished last season’s league campaign second in the table, having won nineteen of their twenty-six fixtures, in contrast to Bradford’s twelfth place finish with only six wins and in the corresponding fixture last time around the Trailblazers handed out a massive twenty-two-point spanking to the Dragons (82-60).
Bradford’s offence switched off completely for the first five minutes of the second quarter, allowing their hosts to build up a fifteen-point lead, at 34-19. However, the travelling Dragon’s did manage to pull the deficit back to eight points (41-33) by the time the sides left court at half-time.
Last season, Bradford would have struggled to come back in the second half, however this seasons squad appear far more equipped for the fight and, although Derby opened their lead back up to fifteen points in the opening minutes of the third quarter, with just a minute left of the penultimate period the Dragons had pegged them right back to just three points. Derby’s point guard, Rema Lascelles, bagged a final two-point lay-up to give the Trailblazers a five-point lead (61-56) to take into the final ten minutes.
The home side’s lead fluctuated between seven and five points for the first couple of minutes of the quarter, however Bradford then went on an unanswered eleven-point scoring run of their own, to take a four-point lead of their own (65-69).
The lead switched a couple of times more, but with only 21 seconds of the game remaining Derby once more held the lead 83-79. Bradford’s Ricky Fetske bagged a three pointer to set up a tense last twelve seconds of the game, but there was to be no further offensive action as the game ended 83-82.
Marcus Gooding headed the Dragon’s scoring with twenty-three points, including six three-pointers, whilst Fetske and Rihards Sulcs both added eighteen points each. Rafi Saipe also contributed eleven points to Bradford’s total.
Derby’s 6’5” forward, Josh Ward-Hibbert, hit twenty-five points for the hosts, also contributing ten rebounds to record a double-double.
Following the game, Bradford coach, Chris Mellor stated, “It’s a tough loss. We got ourselves back from fifteen down to lead by four but we didn’t get crucial stops in the last two minutes and they made a couple of big plays to close it out. Points off our turnovers were eighteen for them, which was also a major factor.”
The Dragons’ junior teams were also in action at the weekend with the under 16 boys clocking up a convincing 21-115 points victory at neighbouring Leeds Tigers, on Saturday. They followed this up with another win (73-61) against Tees Valley Mohawks, at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College (BBEC), on Sunday.
The under 18 men’s team were also in action at BBEC on Sunday afternoon, also beating Leeds Tigers, 78-51 to round off a successful weekend for the Dragon’s youth development program.
In other news, the Dragons confirmed that 6'4" forward Semi Eboigbe has left the club under mutual consent.