The Dragons made the journey to London, on Saturday, to face Westminster Warriors, just two weeks after the two had met in the reverse fixture in the Dragons’ Den, which Bradford had won comfortably, 121-93.
It was the Dragons that held a slight advantage at the end of the first quarter, ahead by a single point, 15-16, a lead which was extended to eight points, 34-42, when the teams left the court at half time.
The Dragons turned the screw in the third quarter, extending their lead to eighteen points and despite Westminster winning the final quarter, they could not prevent Bradford from taking the victory, 87-98.
Following the long journey home, on Saturday night, the Dragons faced Reading Rockets, back in the Dragons’ Den, on Sunday afternoon. In comparison to the home side, Reading had made the slightly shorter journey from Newcastle, where they had been on the wrong end of an 87-75 score-line against Team Northumbria the previous evening. Nevertheless, Reading would provide Bradford with their toughest test yet, since the opening day fixture at Derby Trailblazers, a game in which Bradford lost by a single point (83-82) against the current league leaders.
In the opening quarter of the game, it was the Rockets that had the better of the play, quickly opening a five-point lead. However, the home side kept themselves in contention and pulled the score back to within two points (25-27) at the end of the initial period.
The visiting side continued to press, however, in the second period and quickly reopened the gap to seven points. But, the hosts refused to let them get away and in the closing minutes of the half they turned the game around in their favour, going back to the locker room with a four-point lead, at 49-45.
The Dragons took control of proceedings in the third quarter and had soon extended their lead to eleven points. However, Reading refused to let go and at the end of the penultimate period of play, they had pulled the gap back to seven points (76-69), leaving their hosts still will with plenty of work to be done in the final ten minutes.
As hard as Reading tried, they just couldn’t get within reach of the home side and with less than 90 seconds remaining on the clock, Bradford were ahead by nine (98-89). Rihards Sulcs stepped up to the free throw line, but couldn’t sink both shots, leaving his team one point short of the ton, however Gooding put that right, taking Bradford over the one-hundred-point mark for the sixth time in seven games. The contest ended with a seventh straight victory for the Dragons, 102-96.
Gooding capped a fine shooting performance, by topping the home sides scorers with 29 points, whilst Sulcs contributed 25 points to the cause and Fetske a further 23 points.
The victory sees Bradford move up a place, to fourth, in the National Basketball League Division One table, just one victory behind leaders Derby Trailblazers.
Dragons’ head coach, Chris Mellor commented on the weekends action, saying, “Westminster are always dangerous, especially at home and it took us ‘til midway in the third before we got any kind of grip of the game, but it was another good collective effort. Against Reading, once again it was another even game and, like Saturday, we just managed to put four or five stops together in the third and convert at the other end to get a double figure lead, which was the telling run in the game.”
Bradford face a tough away trip to Team Northumbria next weekend, a side that currently sit second in the table and the Dragons will be keen to make amends for the defeat in the National Trophy earlier, in the season.
The action returns to the Dragon’s Den for another double header weekend on the 19th and 20th of November, when the Dragons take on newly promoted Team Solent Kestrels on the Saturday evening (6:15pm) followed by a National Cup quarter final fixture against Team Northumbria the following day (4:15pm).
Dragons’ under 18s travelled to Durham Wildcats on Saturday, taking a heavy defeat, 82-46. On Sunday, the under 16’s also lost at neighbouring Leeds Force, 104-85, whilst the under 14’s beat Stockport Falcons II, 45-41, at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College.
Photographs © ALEX DANIEL PHOTOGRAPHY