BRADFORD Dragons made the long journey down to Southampton on Saturday to face Team Solent Kestrels, and returned home with the points following a sensational 83-60 victory.

The Dragons had suffered a heavy 106-86 defeat at a strong Hemel Storm side in their opening league game on October 15, and it did not look like things would get any easier at the weekend either.

Solent have been one of the most successful teams in Division One of the National Basketball League over recent years, having won the league title in all of the last four seasons.

The Kestrels, however, have had a slow start to the season this time around.

Having reached the quarter finals of the KitKing Trophy, they were soundly beaten by Derby Trailblazers (110-70).

Then, on the opening weekend of the NBL season, they suffered losses at both Team Newcastle University (92-84) and newly promoted Westminster Warriors (87-79).

Team Solent are clearly going through a period of transition under new head coach Ben Stanley and they are yet to field their two American imports, who are currently awaiting clearance to play, whom they will be relying on to kick start their season.

That meant there was no better time for the Dragons to venture down to the South Coast to face them, and they set their stall out early with Micah Savery-Richards putting down the opening basket.

Solent hit straight back with a three from Greg Durand to put them up by one, but as the quarter progressed their visitors slowly took control of the game.

As the buzzer sounded for the end of the opening period the Dragons were up by six, at 24-18

Jacques Misambu extended the lead to eight points early in the second quarter and, two minutes in, the visitors saw their lead hit double figures for the first time (30-20) when Jordan Whelan layed up off the glass.

The Kestrels struggled to get any momentum, scoring just 11 points in the quarter and as the teams headed back to the locker rooms for half-time, the Dragons led by 43-29.

The second half started with multiple errors from both sides but consecutive layups by Bradford's Jabari Edwards opened the third quarter scores.

The Kestrels then hit back through Kyle Walker and Elias Poorman to claim the next six points before Whelan layed up to restore the 14-point lead.

Solent again took the next points, before Ricky Fetske saw his dunk attempt bounce back off the rim but, taking his own rebound, he then got a lucky bounce off the rim to add a further two to Bradford’s tally.

The Dragons could sense the victory and, as the quarter progressed, they continued to stamp their dominance on the game, finishing the penultimate period with a 62-40 advantage.

With the game all but won, the Dragons were on cruise control in the final quarter and they again were the first to strike, this time Fetske scoring an Alley Oop from Edwards’ hanging pass.

A couple of Dave Walsh trademark threes then saw the Dragons extend their advantage to 75-43 with only seven minutes remaining on the clock.

A moment of controversy followed when a case of mistaken identity led to a foul being called on Savery-Richards, and despite the foul clearly having been committed by Misambu, the former was out of the game for his fifth foul.

Bradford’s head coach, Chris Mellor, gave some time to twins Emils and Daniels Knaps, along with 15-year-old Cameron Simpson, with the trio of academy players doing enough to show why Mellor has entrusted them with seats on the Bradford bench.

With the Kestrels playing for nothing but pride, they managed to close the gap towards the end of the game, but still suffered that heavy 83-60 defeat.

The Dragons therefore took their first win of the season while, surprisingly, the usually-supreme Kestrels remain winless from their first three games.

Whelan took the game’s high score with 25 points, with Savery-Richards (12), Walsh (11) and Fetske (11) also making double figures.

For Solent, Poorman scored 12 points, closely followed by Walker and Durand, both of whom bucketed 10 points apiece.

The Dragons travel to the capital this Saturday for a match up against Westminster Warriors, with tip-off at 5:30pm.

November 5 sees the Dragons’ first home fixture of the season against London Lions II.

Tip off at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre is at 6:15pm and tickets are now on sale via the Dragons’ website.