Bradford Dragons faced another double header weekend, against two sides that are fighting for a home berth in the end of season playoffs. Having trailed for the majority of the game, the Dragons clawed back from a massive seventeen point deficit to clinch a spectacular 87-79 victory against Hemel Storm, in the Dragons’ Den on Saturday evening. Then, in a complete turn of events, Bradford led for the most part of Sunday’s high scoring fixture at Derby Trailblazers, but a late surge from the hosts saw them take the win, 106-99.
Saturday’s game was the reverse of the previous weekends fixture in Hemel Hempstead, in which a vastly depleted six man Dragons’ side were on the wrong end of a nineteen point difference between the two sides (91-72). This time around, Bradford did add an extra body to their bench, but were without their two three-point shooters, Dave Walsh and Steve Towell.
Ricky Fetske won the ball from the tip, but Micah Savery-Richards failed to make his lay-up count, giving Hemel the opportunity to open the scoring, through a Sam Newman jump shot. It was a lead that the Storm were able to keep throughout the first quarter, which ended at 14-18 in the visitors favour.
Within two minutes if the second period, the Dragons had pulled back to within a single point (20-21) forcing Dru Spinks, Hemel’s head coach, to call a timeout and it wasn’t long before his side had moved back out to an eight point lead and it was now Chris Mellor’s turn to call for time.
From the restart, Zach Gachette saw his three point attempt bounce off the rim, but Jabari Edwards rose above everyone to take the rebound and momentum carried him to the basket where he sank a two. Savery-Richards then reduced the gap to four points and followed it up with another two, whilst taking a foul to send him to the line. With the free throw converted the deficit was now down to a single point. On their next offensive, Rihards Śulcs saw his lay-up bounce off the rim, but this time Gachette was on hand for the rebound and swiftly converted to give the Dragons their first lead of the game (34-33) with just two minutes of the second quarter remaining.
The lead didn’t last long and the visiting team were soon back on top. By the end of the half they led by five points, 34-39.
In the opening couple of minutes of the third, both teams failed to add to their scores, before Tayo Oyefusi sank a trey to further extend Hemel’s advantage. Johnson added further twos, sandwiching another trey, this time from Newman, who then went in for the dunk and the gap was suddenly at seventeen points, with the Dragons looking down and out at 34-51.
But the home side were in no mood to surrender and they set about slowly eating into the Storm’s lead, aided by a spectacular dunk from Savery-Richards, and amazingly by the end of the penultimate quarter the Dragons were back in contention at 52-58.
The teams matched one another during the opening minutes of the final period, but the game was turned on it’s head, when with just five minutes on the clock. Hemel’s leading scorer, Sam Newman, stepped in front of Zach Gachette and was immediately called for an unsportsmanlike foul. Having already been given a technical in the previous quarter, Newman was ejected from the arena.
With Hemel’s biggest threat gone, the Dragons took control of the game and saw the game out with an eight point victory (87-79).
Zach Gachette recorded the games high score with 32 points, whilst Micah Savery-Richards also contributed 27 points to the winning total. However, the official Calderdale College Player of the game went to Clayfell Harris, whose defensive contribution, particularly in the second half, was a big factor in the Dragons’ win.
For Hemel, Sam Newman topped the scores with 18 points, and Taylor Johnson and Greg Poleon each contributing 17 points.
The following day, the Dragons travelled to the Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre in Derby, to face the Derby Trailblazers.
The Dragons started the game strongly and raced into an eight point advantage by the end of the first quarter (18-26). The Dragons maintained their lead throughout the second quarter; however a late surge by the home team, reduced the gap to a single point going into half-time (45-46)
The Dragons opened the lead up to six points by the mid-point of the third, but as fatigue started to set in, Derby started to take the control. The game was tied in the last minute of the period, but two baskets by the hosts put them five ahead (77-72) going into the final ten minutes.
Bradford fought hard and regained the lead at the halfway point of the last, but in the end the effort of the last two days took its toll on their small squad, and Derby took the win, 106-99.
Once again Zach Gachette recorded the Dragon’s high score with a ‘meagre’ 26 points. Rihards Śulcs added 23 points, whilst Micah Savery-Richards and Jabari Edwards contributed 17 points each.
The game high went to Derby’s Blake Bowman, with 31 points.
The Dragons return to the Inspire Centre at Calderdale College next Saturday, with a 6:15pm tip-off against Loughborough Riders. Supporters are encouraged to pre-book tickets via www.bradforddragons.co.uk/tickets.html, with savings over the on-the-door ticket prices.
Kristelle Templonuevo (photo of Zach Gachette)
Alex Daniel Photography (photo of Micah Savery-Richards)