Bradford Dragons entertained the Leicester Warriors in the Dragons’ Den, on Saturday evening but sent them home empty handed, following a convincing home win, 104-70.
Prior to the game, players, officials and supporters joined together in a minutes silence, which was carried out impeccably, in honour of the late Kevin Cadle, former Basketball coach and TV pundit, who sadly died last week. Cadle’s record as a basketball coach, during the 80’s and 90’s, still stands today as the most successful in the sports history, in the UK. Since, his retirement from coaching, he went on to become the face of the NBA and later the NBL for Sky Sports.
Historically, the two sides have always been reasonably well matched and games have always been closely competed, with both teams taking an equal share of wins. However, the Warriors have not had a good start to the new campaign having lost both of their opening league fixtures, as well as both pool fixtures in the National Trophy.
The Dragons drew first blood when Rihards Sulcs’ (sponsored by Templewood Photography) double lay-up attempt was finally tipped in by Jermayne Laing. But, Leicester hit back almost immediately, through a Gayle three pointer and a lay-up from Pearce, to take an early (2-5) lead.
That was, however, to be the one and only time that the visitors held the lead, as a combination of baskets from Rafi Saipe, Sulcs and then Saipe again quickly put Bradford in control of the game.
The home side started the second quarter with real intent, and a couple of three-pointers from Marcus Gooding (sponsored by Gooding Funeral Services) and Saipe, forced Brown into calling a time-out within the first minute of the restart (26-14). But, the coach’s intervention was not enough to stop the Dragons from going on the rampage and by the time a second time out was called, half way through the quarter, the gap had been extended to nineteen points, 37-18.
A couple of minutes later, with the gap reduced by five (37-23) it was Chris Mellor’s turn to call for time from the Bradford Bench. The Dragons responded with a couple more three pointers, both from Eisley Swaine.
With only a minute of the half remaining, an off-the-ball incident saw Gayle fall to the ground with what looked like a serious injury. Following a lengthy delay, Gayle was helped from the court, clearly in much distress and was to play no further part in the game.
As the teams returned to the locker rooms for half-time refreshments the Dragons were firmly in control of the game, with the scores at 50-25.
Leicester scored more points in the third period than they had in the entire first half, however even that wasn’t enough to stop the Dragons from increasing their lead. By the time the penultimate quarter drew to an end, the home side had added a further thirty-three points to their total and extended their lead to thirty-one points (83-52).
The final 10 minutes of play became something of a scrappy affair, as Leicester pressed to get possession of the ball, causing Bradford to quickly rack up the fouls. The large lead handed Mellor the opportunity to give youngster Jayden Martin a decent run out, and the 17-year-old capped a decent performance with a fantastic three-pointer.
It was fitting that Swaine hit a further three, which carried the Dragons over the one-hundred-point threshold and the game finished with a convincing home win, 104-70.
Swaine finished the game as the game’s high scorer, with 23 points, also picking up the Taco Bell Player of the Game Award. Saipe continued his fine run of form with 20 points, whilst Sulcs also contributed 16 points to the Dragons total, whilst also taking 15 rebounds to record another double-double.
Coach Mellor said, “It was a good performance at both ends of the court. We had a big second quarter, which gave us a big lead at the half and we maintained that the rest of the way. Five guys with at least fourteen points each is a big positive.”
The Dragons welcome Derby Trailblazers into the Den, next Sunday (29th) in the fourth round of the National Cup. Tip-of is at the earlier time of 4:15pm and tickets are available via the club website.
Dragons’ juniors had a mixed weekend, with the under 16s opening their account with a road win at York Eagles (47-62), whilst the under 14s suffered a heavy home defeat against Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows (36-90).