Bradford Dragons faced another double header weekend, with away fixtures against London Lions II on Saturday afternoon, and Loughborough Riders the following evening. Despite an outstanding final quarter from the Lions, the Dragons had already done just enough to go home with the win. However, the following day, a weakened Dragons’ side, missing both Micah Savary-Richards (sponsored by Milestone Design Ltd., Britain’s first producer of totally green Kitchens of Recycled Content) and Dave Walsh, went down to a heavy, twenty-four point, defeat in Loughborough (98-74).
At the start of play, the Dragons sat joint fourth in the table, but a slow start by the Bradford side saw the Lions race into a six point lead, half way through the first period (13-7). A Justin Williams trey, on just over the seven minute mark gave the Dragons’ their first lead of the game (15-16) and they went on to finish the first quarter with a five point advantage (21-26).
But the Lions were nothing, if not stubborn and in the second quarter they fought back to regain the lead (33-31), although the Dragons gained it back by the mid-point of the period (33-35). But the game was tightly balanced, with the two sides cancelling one another out and, as the teams left the court at half-time, there was only a single point between the two sides, Bradford leading by one (41-42) thanks to another Williams three on the buzzer.
A moment of individual brilliance from Jordon Whelan, intercepting an attempted Lions high pass, dribbling the full length of the court and completing with a lay-up, started a third quarter which was, pretty much, one way traffic. Bradford restricted their hosts to just eight points in the quarter, and took a big seventeen point advantage into the final passage of play (66-49).
However, just when it looked as though the Lions were down and out, they rose to the challenge and set about corroding the Dragons’ lead. London amassed a gigantic thirty-two points in that final period, but fell just short of taking an unlikely victory and Bradford just held out to take the win (81-86).
The game high scored was shared between Justin William and Jordon Whelan, both of whom racked up 21 points apiece. Ricky Fetske assisted with 12 points.
For the Lions, Rhys Sundimalt finished the game on 19 points and Nedas Cholekinskas added a very respectable 15.
Having already missed out on the Lions fixture, Micah Savary-Richards was again absent from the Dragons line up in Loughborough. Only this time, he was joined by three-point shooter David Walsh, who picked up an injury the previous day.
The two sides are normally reasonably equally matched and there have been some incredibly close games between them in the past; however on this occasion Chris Mellor’s side were not quite at the races.
The Riders took a substantial fourteen-point lead by the end of the opening quarter and despite the Dragons closing the gap before half time it was only by a single point, seeing the home side still thirteen up at the break (43-30).
A close fought third quarter (27-26) saw the Riders; lead back up to fourteen (70-56), but with the Dragons running on empty the hosts romped to the finish line with a substantial twenty-four point victory (98-74), a result which was damaging to the Dragons’ points difference, which could prove costly in the final reckoning.
Despite the loss, Jordon Williams again registered the game high score with a, not-too-shabby, total of 33 points. Justin Williams added 19 points with Ricky Fetske also contributing in double figures (12), leaving only ten points, which were shared 6 and 4 by Rihards Śulcs (Sponsored by Gio’s Italian Bar and Kitchen) and Jermayne Laing respectively.
Elijah Bailey headed the list for Loughborough with 21 points and Joe Bielak was just behind on 20 points.
The weekend results leave Bradford (18 games played) in joint fourth in the table, along with Team Solent Kestrels (17 games), Nottingham Hoods (19 games) and Reading Rockets (17 games), all on 18 points. However, the Riders (18 games) and Team Newcastle University (17 games) are also breathing down their necks with 16 points each.
The Dragons travel away again this coming weekend, with a Sunday fixture at Reading Rockets (tip off 4pm). The next Home game takes place at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre on Saturday 25th February (6:15pm), this being a War of the Roses clash with Manchester Magic. Tickets for the Manchester fixture can be purchased via the club website.
For the Junior Dragons, the under 14s went down by a single point (61-62) in their home fixture against Rotherham Hawks, whilst the under 16s had better success, beating East Durham Lions 62-54. The under 18s completed the weekend with a 64-43 victory against Hatfield Fliers.
Photography © Max Lomas