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Hit and miss weekend for Bradford Dragons
Bradford Dragons had mixed fortunes in back-to-back EBL Division One home fixtures.
A 91-79 win against Manchester Magic on Saturday was followed by a last-minute 85-83 loss to fourth-placed Essex Leopards the next afternoon as the Dragons slipped to third in the table.
Their record now stands at eight wins and three losses, although they are just one victory away from top spot with a match in hand on current leaders Hemel Storm.
Bradford’s match against sixth-placed Manchester saw the hosts steadily build up a 23-18 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The second period saw veteran Vance Silcott and new signing Nathan Ashley initially give Bradford the edge. Ashley scored two early three-pointers and applied good defensive positioning to draw two offensive fouls, while Silcott finished the half with 12 points.
Yet from holding a ten-point lead with five minutes to go until half-time, the Dragons were pegged back by eight consecutive points from point guard Tom Ward as he led Manchester to a 50-48 interval advantage.
The third quarter was to prove decisive for Bradford as they won it 22-8, giving them a 70-58 cushion.
Silcott then scored five straight points to extend the lead to 17 and although Ward hit back to finish with a game high of 25, it was to no avail.
Sunday’s follow-up match ebbed and flowed as Essex led 18-16 at the end of the first quarter before the Dragons eased 41-34 in front by half-time.
Bradford then had a 12-point lead with three minutes to go in the third quarter but let it slip to only five by the next break.
The Dragons appeared to have the match won at 83-81 up with eight seconds to go but were left crushed by a three-pointer, with the Leopards adding another point via a free throw to rub salt into the wounds.
Meanwhile, the Dragons under-15s stay second in the EBL north-east division after a hard-fought 81-78 win at Doncaster.
And the under-13s are still unbeaten after a comfortable 87-65 home win against Oldham Titans. Bradford now have a perfect 10-0 record and remain top of the EBL north division.