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Bradford Dragons put up a brave fight, in their final game of the league season, to come back from sixteen points down, at the Amaechi Basketball Centre, but just missed out 89-87 against Manchester Magic.
The Dragons travelled to Manchester on the back of last week’s impressive away win, at Worthing Thunder, and knowing that a win could all but secure them a place in the end of season play-offs.
Bradford had the better of the opening quarter, taking a six point advantage into the first break, 19-25. However, Manchester came back strongly in the second period and at half-time it was the hosts that held the lead, at 48-41.
Manchester piled on the pressure after the break extending their lead to sixteen points, 75-59, by the end of the penultimate quarter and it seemed as though the game had slipped from Bradford’s reach.
Bradford Dragons made the long, arduous journey down to the South Coast, on Saturday, to face Worthing Thunder in a crucial National Basketball League Division One match up. With the Dragons sitting just one place below Worthing in the league table, and just outside of the play off places, this was a game that both teams needed to win, but it was Bradford that travelled home with the points, following an 86-98 victory.
The Dragons started the game slowly, allowing the home side to take a six point lead into the first break (20-14). Despite the play balancing out in the second quarter, Worthing increased their advantage to seven, going into half-time with the scores at 44-37.
Whatever the Bradford head coach, Chris Mellor, said to his team during the interval it certainly did the trick, as the Dragons turned on the style in the second half. By the end of the penultimate quarter the scores had been turned on their head and the visitors now held a four point advantage, at 65-69.
Bradford Dragons’ final home game of the season finished with a 96-86 victory against bottom of the table Newham NASSA Neptunes, on Saturday evening. Despite the unconvincing nature of the Dragons performance, the win keeps Bradford’s slim play-off hopes alive and pushes Newham a step closer towards the relegation door.
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.
Bradford Dragons faced a difficult double header weekend against two sides that are fighting for the National Basketball League Division One title. The Dragons were on the wrong end of an 82-72 score line at Derby Trailblazers on Saturday evening, but returned home to beat a young Kent Crusaders, 83-70, in the Dragons Den on Sunday afternoon.
Early divisional leaders, Derby, had experienced mixed results since beating Bradford by exactly the same score, back in November, and needed the victory in order to keep themselves in touch with the other challengers.
In a tight, low scoring first quarter it was the home team that held a slight advantage, at 15-10 and, despite Bradford narrowing the gap in the second period, Derby maintained their grip on the lead at half time, 40-37.
However, in the third quarter it was the Dragons who looked hungriest for the victory, forcing a ten point turnaround to be leading 57-50 going into the final period.
But any thoughts of a Dragons victory were short lived, hitting foul trouble in the fourth quarter and it was the Trailblazers that finished the strongest, taking the final quarter 32-15 and an overall 82-72 victory.
Miguel Lorenzo hit 18 points for the Dragons, followed closely by John Bantock with 17 points and Jeremee (J.P.) Davis on 14 points.
Head coach, Chris Mellor, reflected on the defeat saying, “We played well for thirty-five minutes, but had a nightmare last five minutes, which cost us the game.”
Bradford returned to home territory on Sunday afternoon for the clash against Kent Crusaders, who had lost their previous two games against Leicester Warriors and Manchester Magic. Kent have been the surprise package in the division one table this season, with a squad consisting mainly of teenagers.
However, the hosting Dragons were quickest out of the blocks, taking an early lead which they held for the duration of the game. Bradford held a six point advantage at the end of the first quarter (20-14), which they extended to twelve points (45-33) by the time the two teams returned to the locker room for their halftime refreshments.
The home side continued where they left off after the break, extending their lead to an impressive 21 points (66-45) at the end of the penultimate period.
This gave Mellor the opportunity to give more court time to some of the peripheral bench players and despite the Crusaders putting up a mini revival in the final quarter the final result (83-70) was never in any doubt.
Top scorer for the Dragons was Rihards Sulcs, who netted an impressive 23 points, supported by Jermayne Laing with 17 points. Davis also added a further 13 points to his weekend total.
Mellor said of the victory, “We played well tonight, at both ends of the floor and it was good to get everyone some court time. Kent were playing without a couple of key players, which made life easier, but it was a good team performance.”
Basketball returns to the Dragons Den next Saturday evening (6:15pm) as the Dragons welcome the division’s bottom club Newham Neptunes, for the final home fixture of the current season. As a special, end of season offer the Dragons are again offering free entry to all under 16’s that are accompanied by a full fee paying adult for this game.
It was also a busy weekend for the Dragons junior teams. On Saturday, the under 18’s lost 70-57 at Leeds Tigers, whilst the under 16’s won at home against Toxteth, 88-68, before losing 75-97 against Cheshire Wire on Sunday. The under 14’s also had mixed results, losing 73-61 at Sheffield Saints on Saturday and beating St. Aidan’s 91-38 at home on Sunday.
It was a double header weekend in the Dragon’s Den, as the Bradford Dragons thrashed Westminster Warriors 94-71 on Saturday evening, but were clawed down by the Essex Leopards on Sunday afternoon, 63-75.
The Warriors marched into the Den in a confident mood, having beaten title contenders Derby Trailblazers the previous week. However, with only five minutes of the game played, the Westminster coach called his first timeout, with his team trailing 19-10.
It was an inspired timeout, as by the end of the first quarter the deficit had been reduced to only two points, with the scores at 24-22 in the Dragons’ favour.
The second period of play looked to be following a similar pattern, with the Dragons opening the lead back up to nine points and forcing their visitors to call another timeout midway through the quarter. However, this time there was to be no recovery and it was the Dragons that took a twelve point lead, at 51-39, back to the locker room at the halfway point.
Westminster never threatened to get close and at the end of the penultimate period the Dragons had all but secured the victory, holding a massive twenty-three point advantage at 79-56.
The visitors were determined to go down fighting (literally) and with only three and a half minutes of the game remaining the Westminster number 14, Michael Odomosu, grabbed Dragons’ point guard, Jeremee Davis, in a headlock and pulled him to the ground, in what seemed like an unprovoked attack...