This season, the Spinners have gone through a period of rebuilding, which has been reflected in a torrid start to their season, ten games played and ten defeats, before Saturday’s fixture. However, the Lancashire side have been boosted in recent weeks with the additions of Harold Trobo, Oliver Ladlow and Allie Fullah, the latter only being announced on the morning of the game.
Meanwhile, the Dragons were coming into the game on the back of an accomplished victory against Reading Rockets, in the Dragons’ Den the previous weekend.
Bradford’s Latvian forward, Rihards Šulcs (sponsored by Templewood Photography) opened the scoring for the visitors, with only thirty seconds played, however the scores were immediately levelled by Lancashire’s new boy, Fullah, down the other end.
The game continued to follow a similar pattern, with one team’s lead being cancelled out by the opposition. But, with three and a half minutes of the opening period remaining Fullah stepped up again to give his side the first clear lead of the game (17-13), prompting the Bradford coach, Chris Mellor, to call for time.
Whatever he said to his players, clearly had the desired effect, as the Dragons closed out the quarter with a seven-point advantage (19-26).
Aristide Baka pulled two points back for the hosts, straight from the restart but, a three from Marcus Gooding (sponsored by Gooding Funeral Services) quickly restored Bradford’s cushion.
If Bradford thought they were home and dry, they certainly had another thing coming, as the second half produced a far more dogged and determined performance from the Spinners. Trobo bucketed for two, to reduce their deficit to fifteen and then, when Šulcs only managed to sink one from two free throws, it was a sign of things to come for the Dragons.
The gap was reduced to fourteen points, then twelve, ten and when Trobo hit another two, half way through the third, suddenly it was game on for the Spinners (42-50).
Bradford never really got going, during that third period and had it not been for Oliver Hylands, who contributed eight points for the Dragons during that quarter, the scores going into the final sector of the game (54-63) could have been much closer.
Lancashire continued to press, and with just over three minutes of the closing period played, a tip-in by Loick Pouale, gave the hosts a sniff of victory, as the game was reduced to a single basket margin (66-68).
Swaine responded for the Dragons, however whatever the Dragons threw at their hosts, the Spinners came right back at them. However, with time running out, Lancashire were forced into giving away fouls, as they attempted to regain possession, a tactic that ultimately proved to be their undoing.
With Bradford taking full advantage of the resultant free throws, a safe gap was re-established and at the final hooter, the Dragons recorded their fifth league victory of the season, leaving Lancashire firmly rooted to the foot of the table with eleven defeats from eleven games.
On the evidence of the second half, surely that first, elusive win can not be too far away for the Lancashire outfit, but the big question is, can they do enough in the second half of their campaign, to claw back the eight-point gap currently standing between themselves and first division survival.
Bradford’s American point guard, Gooding, came from the bench to top the score charts for the Dragons with 17 points. Šulcs followed up with 13 points, also taking ten rebounds to record yet another double-double. Both Saipe and Swaine scored 12 points apiece, Hylands chipped in with 10, and whilst Fetske had a relatively quiet afternoon, in terms of scoring (8 points) he was certainly active off the boards, taking a colossal 16 rebounds.
The game high score went to Trobo, for the Spiners, who made an impressive return of 29 points.
A victorious Mellor commented after the game, “We had a comfortable lead at half time, but a culmination of poor defence, turnovers and them playing much better in the second half, made for a tense final few minutes. “Overall, we didn’t play great, but it was nice to finish the year with a win.”
The Dragons now have a three-week break over the Christmas and New Year period before resuming their league campaign at Derby Trailblazers on 6th January.
The Dragons’ under 14s boys travelled to City of Leeds White, for a lunchtime tip-off on Saturday. With a dominant performance, the Dragons returned with the win (39-63).
The under 16s home fixture against York Young Eagles was postponed, with a new date still to be confirmed.