Bradford Dragons faced a home and away double header last weekend, starting with a home fixture against Westminster Warriors on Saturday evening, followed by an away day trip to Nottingham Hoods on Sunday afternoon. The Dragons took the victories in both games, beating Westminster by nine points (76-67) in the Dragons’ Den and then taking the away win in Nottingham by four (86-90).
Saturday evening was the last in a long run of eight consecutive home games for the Dragons and it was the turn of the National Basketball League First Division’s bottom club, Westminster Warriors to enter the arena. Despite being bottom of the table, the London based club have put up some great performances this season and the Dragons were in no doubt about the tough task before them.
In a game that can only be described as scrappy, the Dragons raced into a first quarter lead, being eleven points up at the half way mark of that opening period (17-6). This was further extended out to thirteen points; however as the buzzer sounded for the completion of the initial passage of play, the Warriors had pulled the deficit back to just seven (25-18).
A two from Chuck Duru followed quickly by a Jordan Gray trey, at the start of the second, quickly pulled the gap even closer to just two points, and with three minutes of the period played a two from Westminster Veteran, Jon Johnson, unbelievably gave the visitors their first lead of the game (27-29).
Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd., Britain’s first producer of totally green Kitchens of Recycled Content) tied things up for Bradford and the Dragons moved on to re-open a twelve point gap between the two sides, courtesy of scores from Justin Williams, Jordan Whelan and Jabari Edwards (41-29).
But again, Westminster refused to roll over and at the halftime buzzer the gap was once again as low as six points (44-38).
A low scoring third quarter saw the Dragons add only eleven points to their tally, and even that was one more than their guests managed, leaving the hosts with a seven point advantage to take into the final period of the game (55-48).
Within a minute of the restart the gap was back up to thirteen, but Westminster still refused to let the game run away from them, pulling back to just six behind, with still four minutes of play remaining (66-60).
But a determined performance from the Bradford side, ensured that Westminster came no closer and the game ended with the Dragons nine up at 76-67.
The Player of the Game Award went to American point guard, Justin Williams for the second weekend running. Williams contributed a massive thirty-two points for the Dragons, also adding seven rebounds and four assists. Dragons captain, Ricky Fetske registered his now customary double-double, with eleven points and ten rebounds.
Chuck Duru and Arif Sempala shared the top spot for the Warriors, with thirteen points apiece.
The following day, the Dragons travelled to the Wildcats Arena in Nottingham, a place they know all too well with it standing in as their home court during the Covid pandemic. This time however, they were the visitors, facing up against the Nottingham Hoods.
When the sides last met, in December, the Dragons had taken the win (82-71) but with the Hoods now sitting two points clear of the Dragons, both teams knew that this was a key game in deciding the final league standings.
Williams started the game where he left off the previous day, putting the first points on the board with a trey. But it was the Hoods who bossed the opening quarter, leading by eleven points at the first scheduled break (29-18).
The second period was a different story altogether, with the Dragons slowly but surely eating away at the host’s advantage. Williams again provided Bradford’s main scoring threat, whilst being well supported by both Whelan and Fetske. With just over two minutes of the first half remaining a triple from Edwards, gave the Dragon’s the lead and further scores from Williams and Fetske placed the visitors in the driving seat (42-48) as the teams made their way back to the locker rooms.
Whelan added a trey to start the penultimate quarter, but then it was the Hoods’ turn to claw their way back into the game and to open a five point advantage of their own (61-56) with three minutes of the period still to play. Bradford fought back and with just forty five seconds remaining in the quarter Williams bucketed his driving layup to give the Dragons the lead once more. However, a last gasp effort by Seth Hall saw the Hoods taking the slenderest of leads into the final period (63-62).
Fetske sank a three, right at the start of the final quarter to put the Dragons ahead, and then another to give Bradford some breathing space. As the game went on the two sides matched one another score for score as the Hoods struggled to get themselves back into contention.
With less than thirty seconds of the game remaining, Joshua Guddemi gave the Dragons a scare, bring the home side back to within one basket; however a final two points from Fetske ensured that the Dragons’ returned home with the win, a result which moves the two sides into joint fourth in league standings.
Williams followed up his thirty-two point tally the previous evening, with another thirty-one in Sunday’s game, tagging it with six rebounds and six assists. Fetske and Whelan both contributed twenty-one points to the winning tally.
Johde Campbell was the top scorer for the Hoods with twenty-two points, closely followed by Joshua Guddemi on twenty-one.
Next up for the Dragons is an away trip to London Lions II, who play out of Barking Abbey College. The game takes place this Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 4pm.
The next home fixture takes place on Saturday 25 February, when Manchester Magic are the visitors to the Inspire Centre for the first time. As usual the game will tip off at 6:15pm and tickets can be purchased via the club website.