BRADFORD Dragons faced a tough English Basketball League Division One double header on the south coast and came home empty handed, losing 93-87 to Worthing Thunder and 87-73 to Team Solent Kestrels.

Former British Basketball League side Worthing - one of the most established UK names in the sport - have made a steady start to the season with five wins from eight prior to facing the Dragons.

This marks a huge improvement on 2016-17, when they were embroiled in a four-way relegation battle, avoiding the drop by one victory.

The Dragons made a fantastic start, with three-pointers from Rafi Saipe and Ricky Fetske either side of a two from Jermaine Laing, putting the visitors eight points in front.

Halfway through the opening period, the Dragons had maintained a 100 per cent shot conversion and led 17-12.

With the game being played at blistering pace, the teams matched one another shot for shot through the remainder of the period, with the visitors leading 31-28 at the end of it.

The pattern continued in the second quarter, with Worthing calling a time-out midway through the session when they were trailing 44-39 and Bradford doing likewise two minutes later when they were leading 46-43.

But as the half drew to a close, the hosts pulled ever closer and by half-time were level at 52-52.

Worthing led for the first time at 56-54, but Rihards Sulcs gave the advantage back to the Dragons, and they were leading 71-68 at the end of a see-saw third period.

Despite an Eisley Swaine three-pointer, Thunder tied matters again at 74-74 before Dragons had a six-minute period without a basket, Worthing eventually winning by 14 points.

Zaire Taylorscored a game-high 36 points for the hosts, whil Marcus Gooding led the way for Bradford with 23.

Sulcs got his customary double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Saipe matched his points tally, with Jermayne Laing and Fetske each contributing 12 points.

Following an overnight stay, the Dragons were back on court for a lunchtime tip-off at the new home of third-placed Team Solent Kestrels - Fleming Park Leisure Centre in Eastleigh.

While the Kestrels had enjoyed their Saturday off, the efforts of the previous evening seemed to have taken their toll on Bradford, who trailed 24-13 at the end of the first quarter and 49-27 at half-time.

But it was a different story in the third quarter as the Dragons finally found their groove, initially led by a brace of two-pointers from Oliver Hylands, who had sat out the Thunder match because of his head injury the previous weekend.

With contributions from Sulcs, Saipe and Fetske, the visitors took the third quarter 32-21 to trail 68-59 and set up an exhilarating final period.

With four minutes remaining, a Gooding jump shot put the Dragons within striking distance at 75-69.

However, fatigue was setting in by now and Solent pulled away again.

Although Fetske tipped the ball in from an initial attempt by Laing right on the final buzzer, it was not enough to stop the home side from triumphing by 14 points to condemn Bradford to their third defeat on the bounce.

Sulcs headed the Dragons’ score list with 17 points, supported by Saipe and Laing with 13 apiece and a notable 12 from Hylands.

Bradford's head coach Chris Mellor said: “I thought we played pretty well on Saturday, but Taylor closed the game well for them and we allowed them some key offensive rebounds down the stretch.

"On Sunday, we didn’t turn up in the first half and, although we dug ourselves out from 25 down and cut it to six late in the game, we just left ourselves way too much to do.”

Bradford face Reading Rockets on Saturday in the Dragons' Den (6.15pm) in their last home fixture before the Christmas break.

The club's annual winter raffle will take place during half-time, and match tickets are available from

Whilst the Dragons’ under-16s fixture against Durham Wildcats was postponed, the under-14s lost 64-29 to Tees Valley Mohawks at Teeside University’s Olympia building (Kristians Haidukovs 11 points).