Bradford were slow out of the blocks and it was the visitors that looked hungriest for the points, and with less than five minutes played Chris Mellor was forced into calling his first time-out, with his side tailing 4-10. The Dragons picked up the pace, following Mellor’s intervention and at the end of the first quarter they had turned it around and were leading 19-18.
But, in the second period the home side slipped back into a state of slumber, with a series of missed shots and fumbled passes, which allowed the Neptunes to take back the advantage. The Dragons went back to the locker rooms at the wrong end of a 40-45 score line and expecting some strong words from coach Mellor.
In the final quarter, neither team managed to take a firm hold on the game, with the lead changing hands time and time again. With just less than two and a half minutes remaining of play, the Dragons were holding on to a slim one point lead (81-80) and it seemed that the game was going all the way to the final buzzer.
However, just when it counted most, the home side finally found their rhythm and put the game beyond the reach of the courageous Neptunes.
Local boy, Jermayne Laing celebrated his birthday with a man of the match performance and top scoring for the Dragons with 28 points, whilst American J.P. Davis netted 18 points and veteran shooter Jason Swaine added 15 points to Bradford’s total.
Head coach, Mellor reflected on the game, stating “We came out flat, with no energy or defensive intensity and it pretty much continued in that vain until we finally woke up in the fourth and put some stops together, letting us get some transition baskets.”
“To be fair, NASSA played a game and didn’t make things easy for us. But, we needed the win to keep things interesting for our visit to Worthing next weekend.”
The Dragons now finish their season with two tough away games, at Worthing Thunder next Saturday and then Manchester Magic a week later. If other results go in Bradford’s favour, wins in both of these games could sneak them a place in the end of season play-off competition. Mellor added “It’s going to be a tough ask but one that the squad is certainly up for.”
In other results for the Dragons, the under 18’s lost their final match of season, 84-82, away at York Eagles, whilst the under 16’s won at Trafford, 61-34.
All photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY