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Bradford Dragons double up in surge to second
Bradford Dragons extended their impressive English Basketball League winning streak to six Division One matches with back-to-back weekend successes.
They opened with a convincing 81-56 home victory against Leicester Warriors and followed up with a 76-63 win at Team Northumbria.
The Dragons hit the ground running to take an early 19-5 lead, with a slam dunk by shooting guard Jermayne Laing a particular highlight. But the Warriors were then able to establish themselves as the first quarter ended just 24-20 to the hosts.
The second quarter remained tight until Bradford were able to pull away, led by 14 points from American centre Chris McGrew as he helped his side to a 46-37 half-time advantage.
Just four points were scored in the first six minutes of the third quarter but Lithuanian forward Rihard Sulcs then ignited the Dragons with consecutive baskets after tenacious work from Alejandro Corona Navarro of Spain to steal and assist for the first.
From that point on Bradford’s impenetrable defence and stylish offence enabled them to close out the game in front of the largest Dragons Den crowd of the season.
Coaching duo Chris Mellor and Sam Messam had called at half-time for better defence and the players certainly executed that, holding bottom side Leicester to only 19 points in the whole of the second half.
After amassing an unassailable lead, the Dragons were able to blood in newly established England under-15s players Eisley Swaine and Zion Tordoff.
That win made Bradford’s record 5-1 and left them third in the table – and it got even better the next day as they climbed to second on points difference behind leaders Hemel Storm, who are two points clear having played a game more.
A big third quarter provided the initiative for the road victory against third-bottom Northumbria, despite being without McGrew after he was injured on Saturday.
The Dragons trailed by eight points at half-time but dug deep and a 27-8 surge in the penultimate period turned the game around, Dan Foley finishing top scorer with 21 points.
Next up is a home fixture against Newham Neptune on Saturday. The match at Trinity Green sports hall, Bradford College, tips off at 6.15pm.
Meanwhile, the Dragons third team recorded their first victory of the season 50-49 at Armley Nixs, with the under-15s winning 74-69 at home to Newcastle Eagles to stay top of their division.