BRADFORD Dragons faced a double header of games over Remembrance Weekend, but slid to defeat in both

A Saturday night thriller in the Dragons’ Den saw the Bradford side fall just short against their National Basketball League Division One rivals Loughborough Riders, going down 71-68.

That could be considered unlucky, but the defeat was followed less than 24 hours later with them being embarrassingly dumped out of the National Cup away to third division Milton Keynes Breakers.

Going into Saturday's clash, the Dragons and Loughborough were very much two of the in-form sides in NBL Division One.

While Bradford had won their previous three fixtures, the Riders had come off the back of a three loss start to their season to pick up wins in their last two, including an exciting overtime win at Solent Kestrels last time out.

Loughborough drew first blood, with a layup from Dion Collins, which he followed up with a successful hook shot to give the visitors an early four-point lead.

The Dragons pulled back and soon the game was tied at 6-6. But Loughborough gradually pulled away again, this time building a five-point lead, before the Dragons once more pulled back to tie the game at 13-13.

The opening period remained close, but when the buzzer sounded to signify the end of that first passage of play, the visitors held a narrow 18-16 lead.

The second quarter got off to a slow start, with almost two minutes of play passing before any change to the scoreboard.

Loughborough again made the breakthrough, through Justin Hedley’s layup, and for the next couple of minutes the two sides matched one another basket for basket.

But gradually Loughborough started to take a firm hold on proceedings, building up a six-point lead, then nine and by the end of the half they were 40-28 in front.

After the break, the Dragons came out fighting, taking the first six points to quickly halve the deficit.

But any hope of a Loughborough collapse was quashed and they soon had the lead back at 10 points.

Their lead was reduced to eight points with the last score of the quarter, a Jordan Whelan lay-up making the score 52-44.

The final period came alive when Bradford’s Dave Walsh landed a trey to quickly reduce the gap to just five points.

Loughborough then took the next two scores to go 56-47 in front.

With less than two minutes remaining Loughborough were still six points to the good, with the score at 65-59 in their favour.

Ricky Fetske bucketed a layup to bring the game back to four points, and then Whelan was fouled while in the act of shooting and made no mistake from his two shots from the line.

Then, up stepped Fetske again, who saw his three point attempt successfully landing to finally give the Dragons the lead at 66-65.

Collins replied with a two for Loughborough, but Jermayne Laing restored the Bradford lead with a layup.

The clock had only 13 seconds left on it, when Hedley put in a jump shot to give the visitors the advantage once more.

The Dragons needed to score and with five seconds remaining Whelan drove in for the layup, but saw his shot bounce out.

Loughborough’s Harrison Gamble picked up the rebound and the only option remaining was for the Dragons to foul, sending Gamble to the line.

The big man made no mistake with his two free throws, leaving the Dragons needing a trey to force the game into overtime.

With just three seconds to achieve that goal, coach Chris Mellor called a time-out to discuss the plan with his charges.

As play resumed, the ball was fed to Walsh, who had been on hot form from beyond the arc.

But his final attempt missed the mark and Loughborough were victorious, winning 71-68.

Walsh recorded the game's high score with 19 points, which included five three pointers.

Latvian Rihards Sulcs contributed 16 points for the Dragons and Whelan followed close behind on 14 points.

Sulcs also picked up 10 rebounds to record a double-double.

Gamble and Joe Bielak each contributed 18 points to the Loughborough score, with both Hedley and Collins also in double figures.

The following day, the Dragons travelled south to face Milton Keynes Breakers in the National Cup.

The Breakers currently sit top of their Division Three East table with an unbeaten five game start to the season.

And despite their lowly status, they do boast a talented squad, which includes experienced guard, and former Thames Valley Cavaliers captain, Blayne Freckleton.

The opening quarter went with the underdogs, who built up a 27-22 lead. This was further extended to seven points by the half-time break at 45-38.

In the second half, the Dragons fought back and reduced the deficit to 54-50 by the end of the penultimate period.

They then levelled the game by the end of the fourth period, with the 75-75 scoreline pushing the game into overtime.

But the hosts held firm and took the extra period by 11 points to five, achieving the biggest shock result in the tournament's fourth round with an 86-80 victory.

Sulcs hit 21 points for the Dragons, with Whelan close behind on 20.

As a reward for beating the Dragons, the Breakers will now travel north to face another Division One side, Team Newcastle, in the fifth round of the competition.

The Dragons are back in home action at the Inspire Centre this coming Saturday at 6:15pm, when the Reading Rockets will be the visitors.

Tickets can be pre-booked via the Dragons website.