Leicester Warriors 88 Bradford Dragons 98

BRADFORD Dragons travelled to Leicester Warriors on Saturday afternoon and came home with the points following a hard-fought 98-88 victory.

Leicester were badly out of form, having not won since an opening day victory against Manchester Magic at the beginning of October.

The Dragons themselves had been dealt a blow in the week leading up to the game, with the news that American point-guard Drexler Clark had flown home for personal reasons, and would not be returning to the club.

A club statement last Wednesday said: “Everybody at the club wishes Drexler all of the very best for the future and thank him for his dedication to the Dragons during his short time with us.”

Back to Saturday's action, Andreas Lycoudis opened the scoring, sinking an early three-pointer for the Dragons. Leicester quickly responded with a two and a set of flawless free throws to go ahead.

The home side’s lead was short lived however, as the Dragons launched a seventeen-point unanswered streak, putting them firmly in control of proceedings. When the first quarter ended, Bradford were already 30-13 in front.

Layups from Ricky Fetske and Rihards Šulcs further extended the Dragons lead at the start of the second period.

However, Leicester started to claw their way back into contention and had reduced the gap back into single figures by the mid-game interval, with the Dragons leading 49-40 at the buzzer.

Bradford responded well at the start of the third quarter. Jermayne Laing netted his free throws from the line after being fouled and Šulcs followed that with a layup as the Dragons roared towards a 62-44 advantage.

Four minutes later, the hosts had virtually turned it around. They were only 70-66 behind and could sniff the possibility of a second victory.

Leicester could not add any more before the buzzer, while three each from Lycoudis and Rafi Saipe sent the Dragons into the final period with some breathing space, at 76-66 in front.

The Dragons did enough to hold the Warriors off in the final quarter, eventually recording a slightly unconvincing 98-88 victory.

Šulcs was the game’s high scorer, with 28 points, but it was Fetske that took the plaudits, sinking 25 points and taking a massive 18 rebounds, with the performance earning him the National Basketball League’s Player of the Week award.

Bradford coach Chris Mellor said after the game: “We didn’t do a great job of guarding off the dribble or contesting the three, but we had enough offensively to keep finding scores when we needed to.”

Following successive weekends on the road, the action returns to the Dragons’ Den this Saturday, when Team Newcastle University provide the opposition.

Newcastle lost their opening three games of the season but have since won three from their last four league fixtures, so the Dragons will need to be at the top of their game.

Tip-off in the Den is at 6:15pm and advance tickets can be purchased from the club website.