Bradford Dragons succumbed to a disappointing 86-67 road defeat against the 9-3 Hemel Storm in NBL Division One on Sunday afternoon.
After a competitive low-scoring first half, a dismal third quarter performance ensured a third straight league defeat for Coach Mellor’s team.
Both teams came into the game looking to avenge defeats against the Solent Kestrels last weekend, with the Dragons also hoping to prevent a fourth straight defeat to the Storm in NBL Division One action.
The Dragons were getting good looks early, but struggling to knock down shots, the visitors trailed 8-2.
Dragons quickly responded through Jermayne Laing and Rihards Šulcs, who scored the visitors next eight points to cut the Storm lead to a one-possession game (12-9).
A quick 6-0 Storm run allowed the hosts to build a nine-point lead with just over two minutes to play in the opening quarter.
In need of a spark, Dragons found it once again in the form of impressive youngster Great Osobor.
Osobor came into the game looking for his shot and lifted the Dragons offense with six points to reduce the deficit to 20-16 at the end of the quarter.
Following a similar trajectory to the opening quarter, Dragons traded buckets with the hosts to keep the game tight, but mid-quarter shooting struggles allowed the Storm to grab control of the game.
Down 25-22 after an Andreas Lycoudis three, Dragons scored just one bucket in an almost five-minute stretch of basketball.
The hosts duly capitalised as they began to find their shooting stroke, with Mike Williams and Poleon leading the Storm into a 36-24 lead.
Dragons did respond with six straight points to close the quarter, but the visitors trailed 38-30 at the end of a low-scoring first half.
After a hard-fought opening half, neither team looked like blowing the game open, but unfortunately for Dragons, the Storm did just that in the third quarter.
Hemel broke out to a 12-5 start to the penultimate quarter, with the host’s three-point shooting continuing to kill Dragons.
Threes from Bode Adeluola, Levi Noel, and Williams put Dragons down 50-35 with just over five minutes to play in the quarter.
Dragons weren’t able to generate a meaningful run to reduce the deficit, but Uche Umewke continued to grind inside, scoring eight of the Dragons final 12 points in the quarter.
Trailing by as many as 16 in the quarter, Coach Mellor’s team went into the final quarter down 63-47.
The shooting struggles continued in the fourth, with the Storm ballooning the lead to as many as 29 (82-53).
The Dragons young trio of Elijah Walsh, Billy Cousins, and Edvarts Gutmanis showed some promising flashes in the closing stages of the game, instigating a 12-4 run to end the game.
However, the damage had long been done, and the Dragons dropped to a fifth defeat in six league games.
The Final Score, Hemel Storm 86-67 Bradford Dragons. A disappointing second half performance ensured the Dragons left empty-handed as they fall to 5-6 on the season.
Great Osobor led the Dragons in scoring with 12 points and 9 rebounds, with Rihards Šulcs adding 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Hemel Storm’s Mike Williams led all scorers with 19 points.
Coach Mellor lamented his team’s disappointing second half display, he said:
“We competed well first half, but they got too many open looks after the break, with other players giving them a balanced scoring attack.”
Photographs by Joanne Charles.