Bradford Dragons trekked a long journey through the snow on Saturday, for an evening fixture against the Thames Valley Cavaliers at Uxbridge College. The journey home was made even longer, as the Dragons were on the wrong end of a 108-95 scoreline.
The two sides last met in December, in the reverse fixture at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre, when Bradford took the win by an eight point margin (91-83). But with both teams in the hunt for an end of season playoff berth, this was always going to be a tough game for both sides.
Thames Valley started the scoring in the very first play of the game, a three from A J Roberts. However, neither team were able to break clear in a high scoring, yet tight first quarter which, thanks to a Rihards Sulcs layup in the dying seconds, saw the Dragons take the narrowest of leads into the first scheduled break (30-31).
Roberts again opened the scoring in the second period to put the Cavaliers ahead once more, but driving layups from both Jabari Edwards and Micah Savery-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd.), the latter also adding an extra from the foul line, quickly restored Bradford’s advantage (32-36).
This was followed by a barren spell for the Dragons, who failed to add to their score for the next four-and-a-half minutes, seeing their hosts overturn the deficit, although similar poor finishing from them restricted the damage from being far worse (38-36). But, in the final four minutes of the half, Thames Valley, led by 5’11” guard, Bode Adeluola, who is now in his eleventh season at the Uxbridge based club, opened up a six point lead to take back with them into the locker rooms (53-47).
The host’s lead was quickly up to thirteen, before the Dragons had even got going for the second half (60-47). Although the two sides were reasonably matched through the rest of the penultimate quarter, the Dragons were still down by that unlucky number when the buzzer signalled for the final break of the game.
The two sides were matched point for point in the final quarter, with Thames Valley taking the victory in front of their home crowd (108-95).
Justin Williams headed the Dragons’ scorers, with a total of 23 points and he was closely followed by Jordan Whelan who registered 22 points of his own. Ricky Fetske also contributed 17 points to the Dragons’ tally, also picking up 14 rebounds to record his now customary double-double.
But it was Thames Valley’s Bode Aleluola who hit the game high score, with a massive 32 points, which earned him a spot on the NBL team of the week.
With the league table so closely contested this season, the loss moves the Dragons down from fifth to eighth, although they are now one of four teams currently sat on twenty-two points, including the Cavaliers. With only four points separating the teams from fourth to tenth, the fight for the playoffs is likely to go all the way to the final weekend.
This Saturday, the Dragons travel to third placed Derby Trailblazers, who recently represented the NBL through to the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy. Tip off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre is at 7:30pm.
The following day, sees Bradford’s final home fixture of the season when the Essex Rebels roll into the Dragons Den, looking to avenge the heavy mauling (60-98) that the Dragons inflicted upon them just two weeks ago. Tip off at the Inspire Centre is at the earlier time of 4:15pm and tickets can be purchased in advance via the club website.