The home side named two former Dragons in their line-up – point guard, Carl Pearson and American forward, Chris McGrew, which added a bit of Christmas spice to the fixture.
Like the previous week’s fixture against Manchester Magic, the Dragons couldn’t buy a basket in the opening six minutes of the game, going down to an early 8-1 deficit, and it took a Marcus Gooding three-pointer to finally get them going. With only ninety seconds of the first quarter remaining the game was tied at 12 apiece, however the home side just edged ahead to finish the period at 18-17.
Bradford took the lead with the opening score of the second quarter, a Ricky Fetske two-point jump shot, but the two sides traded baskets during the early moments of the period. However, it was the home side who again put themselves in the driving seat, and with less than two minutes to half time, they were up by eleven, 47-36. Fetske then bagged another two points, and a foul which he followed through with the extra point from the free throw line and then Gooding hit a three to pull the deficit back to just five. However, Leicester responded with three points of their own to finish the half with a healthy eight-point advantage, 52-44.
The Warriors extended their lead to ten, straight from the restart, however a couple more successive three pointers from Gooding quickly brought the game back to just four points and a Rihards Sulcs free throw then narrowed the gap further to only three points (54-51).
One thing that is true of the Dragons, this season, is that they are always capable of fighting their way back into a game and, straight from the restart, Fetske popped in a two pointer to level the scores. But that was as close as they got, with Leicester again opening a four-point gap (73-69), before the game took am unexpected delay, with the officials calling a lengthy timeout due to a facial injury to one of the Leicester players, with the home bench claiming a deliberate elbow.
Once the game resumed, Leicester made the most of their home advantage, and with less than a minute remaining they were holding an unassailable fourteen points lead. Despite one final three-point score from Gooding, there was nothing that Bradford could do to prevent their hosts from claiming the victory, 88-77.
Gooding hit nine three-point shots, to finish as the games top scorer with 27 points (4 rebounds, 4 assists), whilst Sulcs also added a further 20 points (5,2) to his seasons total. Fetske also chipped in with 18 points (6,2).
Following the game, Coach Mellor commented, “We played well in patches, but overall our rebounding wasn’t good enough. Defensively we allowed too much dribble penetration and we didn’t shoot the ball well enough from behind the arc.”
The Dragons now face one more game, away at Hemel Storm next Saturday (7pm) before the season takes a short break over Christmas and the new year.
Dragons’ under 18s were also in action on Saturday, falling to a 74-71 defeat at Doncaster Danum Eagles. On Sunday, the under 16s travelled to Sheffield Junior Sharks II, returning home with an 80-84 victory.