BRADFORD Dragons defeated Leicester Warriors 76-66 in a closely fought National Basketball League Division One encounter on Saturday.

Keen to bounce back after a disappointing defeat at Nottingham Hoods, the Dragons caught fire from three-point range in the fourth quarter to pull away and secure an important win.

In their last game of 2020, Chris Mellor’s team travelled to face a struggling Warriors side that had started the season off 0-4.

All five Dragons starters scored early on as the visitors opened up a 14-3 lead.

Bradford locked in defensively to lead 18-10 after a promising opening period, and with Ricky Fetske, Rihards Šulcs, and Dave Walsh all scoring multiple baskets in the second quarter, they held a 31-21 lead with just over two minutes left until the interval.

But the hosts then fired off an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 33-30 at half-time.

The Dragons started quicker after the break, but Leicester responded strongly and took a 42-41 lead after 11 straight points stunned the visitors.

Andreas Lycoudis knocked down three threes in the quarter to edge Bradford back in front, but Leicester levelled the game at 53-53 heading into the all-important fourth quarter.

Captain Fetske opened the scoring with a mid-range jumper but it was Leicester who held a narrow 59-58 lead around halfway through the period.

The Dragons’ three-point shooting had been a major cause for concern in the opening weeks of the season, but that was all suddenly forgotten as they managed to string together three successive threes.

Lycoudis and Fetske came to the fore as Bradford established a 67-59 lead with just under three-and-a-half minutes left to play in the game.

The hosts did manage to cut the lead to four (69-65) but Dragons veterans Šulcs and Fetske scored late baskets to finish the game off once and for all.

The victory sees the Dragons improve to 3-1 in Division One.

Fetske top-scored for the Dragons with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Šulcs notched a second double-double of the season with a notable 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Mellor touched on the importance of his team’s three-point shooting down the stretch.

He said: “As expected, it was a tough battle, and we just managed to get the necessary stops and hit some threes in the fourth quarter to close it out.”

Captain Fetske said: “I am proud of the Dragons’ performance today.

“We had a defensive plan that we executed well at the start of the game and with the game tied at 53-53 going into the fourth quarter, we regained our defensive focus and pulled away in the last few minutes.”

He continued: “I was most impressed with how well we shared the ball, because we had 24 assists on 29 made field goals.

“We still have a lot to improve on, but this is an uplifting win for us going into the Christmas break.”