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Back-to-back defeats dent Bradford Dragons title chances
Bradford Dragons suffered a double weekend setback as their push for the EBL Division One title crashed to successive defeats.
Mid-table Bristol Flyers dealt the Dragons their heaviest reverse of the season as they won 93-60 in Bradford, before a trip to high-flying Reading Rockets the next day resulted in an 82-62 loss.
Bristol stepped onto the court looking to avenge a heavy defeat in the return fixture and enjoyed an outstanding first quarter, landing almost every shot they took.
This included a half-court effort from Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye to conclude the opening period which saw the visitors leading by 20 points.
The Dragons began to press in the second quarter and although they initially dented the Flyers’ lead, they could not stop England under-18 player Lautier-Ogunleye as he amazingly hit another half-court shot to help his side move 30 points up.
Bradford continued to fight in the second half but to no avail. Their top scorers were Rihards Sulcs with 17 points, backed up by Carl Pearson (15) and Alejandro Navarro (10), while Lautier-Ogunleye landed 16 for Bristol.
Dragons chairman Stuart Culliford said: “All EBL Division One teams have players with injuries, so we cannot put Saturday night’s game down to that.
“Bristol moved the ball well and shot the lights out, whereas we had periods when we could not buy a basket.”
Bradford were hoping for better fortunes as they headed south to face second-placed Reading Rockets, one of the most in-form teams in the league.
The game began with almost everything going against the Dragons, although they remained composed and took a one-point lead into the first interval.
But the second quarter saw Reading display all their quality as they showed why they have lost just three games this season in forcing a 33-24 lead by half-time.
The teams duked it out in the second half, with the Dragons remaining competitive, and in the final quarter they managed to get the deficit down to five points before running out of steam.
Latvian shooter Sulcs was again Bradford’s highest scorer with 26 points but a bad weekend saw his team drop to fourth in the table with 11 wins and seven losses.
The Dragons will try to put these defeats out of their mind in their next outing when they travel to Westminster Warriors on Saturday.
Meanwhile, there were also upsets for Bradford’s third team, who lost heavily 100-42 at Queensbury Hawks, and the under-15s, who surprisingly went down 81-78 away to Newcastle Eagles.