Bradford Dragons ensured it was a successful home league and cup doubleheader, with a 93-69 win over Barking Abbey on Saturday, and a 97-88 National Cup Victory over Team Newcastle the following day.
The Dragons secured a second NBL Division One win of the season with a thoroughly deserved 93-69 victory over Barking Abbey.
Both teams came into the clash 1-5 on the season, but a tenacious defensive display from start to finish guaranteed it would be the Dragons coming away with a much-needed blow-out victory.
The win puts to an end a Dragons three-game winless run dating back to the 86-77 victory over the Essex and Hertz Leopards on Matchday Three.
Three successive steals, two from Jermayne Laing and one from Dave Walsh had a young Barking team stunned in the opening minutes of the game. Dragons clogged the passing lanes and reaped the rewards with an 11-2 run to start the ball game.
The hosts struck with the Crusaders reeling and desperately looking for a response. Getting into the paint at will, the Dragons converted several well-worked backdoor sequences to push out to a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second period started in the same fashion as the first ended with a Dragons team firmly in control of proceedings.
But an uncharacteristic three-minute spell of lax play gave the Crusaders a lifeline. As the duo of Theo Hughes and Tautvydas Mielianskas combined for 14 points in a run that dragged the visitors back within four points.
The Dragons steadied the ship somewhat, and a couple of Rihards Šulcs’ buckets to end the half ensured a 40-32 halftime lead for the hosts.
The third quarter was a much more physical affair, with the referees letting both teams play hard. The Dragons more than stood up to the challenge and started to dominate on the boards, resulting in a number of transition buckets.
The hosts capitalised on poor transition defence from the Crusaders, as the lead grew back to 16 points. Albert Margai and Laing continued to thrive in the paint, causing all sorts of problems for their counterparts.
Margai once again drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Andreas Lycoudis in the right corner. Lycoudis set his feet before burying a buzzer-beating three to end the penultimate quarter.
The Dragons entered the fourth 61-48 to the good. Wearing down the visitors, Bradford began to pull away once more, this time for good.
The fourth was all about the spread of scoring from the Dragons roster. A season-high 32 points on the quarter culminated with no less than eight Dragons scoring in the final period.
The hosts were simply too hot for Barking to handle as the lead ballooned to 26. Five Dragons scored in double figures on the evening as the hosts recorded a 93-69 victory over a very young and talented Barking Abbey side.
Coach Mellor was pleased with his sides display, “our intensity was good from the start and it was a decent performance at both ends of the floor.”
The Official University of Bradford Player of the Game went to Ricky Fetske who notched a third successive double-double, recording 14 points and 14 rebounds. With Rihards
Šulcs adding a notable 17 points and 8 rebounds performance.
Theo Hughes led all scorers with an impressive 26 points and 11 rebounds display for Barking Abbey.
The following day, the Dragons hosted Team Newcastle in the Third Round of the National Cup. The hosts secured a safe passage to the next round with a hard fought 97-88 victory over the NBL Division Two leaders.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair with neither team able to get into a real flow. The Dragons looked lethargic on the offensive end as the visitors took a 27-23 lead into the second quarter.
With 6:25 left in the second period, Bradford was down 33-25, but this was where the game flipped on its head.
The Dragons had finally awoken as they responded with a monster 28-11 run to end the first half. All of a sudden, Dragons went lights out from behind the three-point line. Knocking down six successive threes. Fetske and Walsh combined for four threes with Rafi Saipe and Billy Cousins also hitting triples.
Leading at the half 53-44, two quick buckets from Margai and Šulcs pushed the Bradford lead out to 13, just moments into the second half.
Although, the visitors managed to get within four points a couple of minutes later. The Dragons never relinquished their lead and led 71-60 at the end of the third quarter.
A high scoring fourth period finished with the Dragons reaching a season-high 97 points. Leading by as many as 16 points in the fourth, a professional display from Dragons confirmed back to back wins on the weekend.
The hosts 11-22 shooting from three proved to be the difference as once again five Dragons scored in double figures.
The 97-88 victory sets up a clash with the NBL Division One leaders Solent Kestrels in the Fourth Round of the National Cup.
Coach Mellor commented, “It was a tough game for us and even though we had the lead for the majority of the game, it was never totally comfortable. They will be tough to stop in Division Two this season.”
The Official University of Bradford Player of the Game went to Ricky Fetske who top-scored with 28 points and 12 rebounds for yet another double-double on the season. Dave Walsh also added 16 points, going 4-5 from three.
Next up at the Dragons Den is an NBL Division One clash against Hemel Storm on Saturday, November 23 at 6.15pm.
Meanwhile, in Junior Dragons news, the U14s fell to a tough 80-40 defeat against the York Young Eagles. Elsewhere, the Dragons U16s defeated the Hatfield Flyers 66-39.
Photos © Alex Daniel Photography