Bradford Dragons 103 Nottingham Hoods 91

BRADFORD Dragons opened their National Basketball League Division One campaign with a home win against newly-promoted Nottingham Hoods in the Dragons Den on Saturday evening.

The Hoods have already beaten the Derby Trailblazers and Leicester Warriors in the National Trophy and they continued that good form by putting the first points on the board here through Slovakian forward, Andrej Slavik.

Rihards Šulcs got Bradford off the mark with a layup and an extra shot following a foul before Ricky Fetske bucketed a three-point jump shot. Andreas Lycoudis and Drexler Clark then helped stretch the Dragons' lead to 11-5.

Late on in the quarter, Dragons went on an unanswered ten-point scoring spree and were able to increase their advantage to 26-16.

After a slow start to the second period, a spectacular dunk from Allie Fullah triggered the home side back into action, and further baskets from Clark, Šulcs and Jermayne Laing extended the gap to 17.

The quarter ended with the Dragons 14 points ahead but the Hoods began to find some rhythm in the third period to reduce the deficit to 66-59.

They brought the gap down to just two before the Dragons finally started to click to go eight points clear. They were only 80-74 in front by the buzzer though.

Fetske opened the final quarter with a three-pointer to settle the Dragons' nerves, before Šulcs and Clark stretched the lead to 92-76.

Clark then injured himself and had to be replaced by Joaquín Calvo. The delay seemed to work for Nottingham, who clawed some points back.

However, Laing and Fullah both netted to put the hosts 96-81 ahead before there was another injury stoppage when Hoods veteran Dave Watts landed awkwardly and had to be taken off.

Aaron Maher pulled the visitors back within striking distance and despite Clark being reintroduced, Nottingham were only 98-91 behind with a minute left.

The Dragons stood firm and a couple of layups from Fetske and a single from the line by Šulcs ensured a 103-91 win.

The official University of Bradford Player of the Game award went to Clark, who scored an impressive 33 points as well as adding seven assists.

He reflected: “A lot of this goes towards my family, my teammates and coaching staff for giving me the confidence to play my game from the start.

“I think we have a chance to surprise a lot of people this season and to achieve something really special, not only for the club but for the city as well.”

Clark was well supported by Fetske, who contributed 29 points for the Dragons and Šulcs, who added a further 19.

The Dragons travel to Loughborough Student Riders this Saturday at 6pm for a tough test. The action returns to the Dragons Den on Sunday, when Bradford entertain Third Division Barking Abbey in the third round of the National Cup.

Tip-off there is at 4:15pm and advance tickets are available on the club website.