Bradford Dragons entertained the Thames Valley Cavaliers at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre on opening night of the National Basketball League Division One season last Saturday.

Unfortunately, for the Dragons, it was the visiting side that took the spoils, winning the game 84-78.

This fixture brought together the top three all-time scorers in the National Basketball League Division One since digital records began in the 2003-04 season, boasting a total of over 10,000 points between them.

Bradford’s Rihards Sulcs, now in his 13th season at the Dragons’ Den, tops the rankings with a total of 3,550 points, closely followed by Thames Valley’s Bode Adeluola on 3,488 points.

The top three is then made up by another long-term Dragon, Ricky Fetske, who has 3,141 points.

The Dragons also had the top average points per game scorer from last season, Justin Williams, in their ranks, so everything was in place for a high-scoring opener.

Jabari Edwards sank a two-point jump shot to open the scoring for Bradford, with Zion Tordoff doubling the hosts’ lead before Micah Savery-Richards hit the first trey of the game to give the Dragons an early seven-pointlead.

At halfway point of the opening quarter, the two sides were tied at 9-9, but Tordoff and Savery-Richards helped put the Dragons back in control at 17-12 up.

A two from Williams and a triple from Joe Buchanan helped the home side maintain that five-point advantage, as they reached the first buzzer 23-18 in front.

Straight from the restart, Williams hit a trey to extend the Dragons’ advantage to eight points and when the same player landed a two-point jump shot three and a half minutes into the quarter, their lead reached double figures.

However, the Cavaliers then started to eat into the Dragons’ lead, so when the half-time interval arrived, they had reduced the deficit to just 44-42.

At the start of the third period, it was Bradford that set the early pace with baskets from Tordoff and Savery-Richards restoring a six-point lead.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Zion Tordoff (11) scored heavily, as did team-mate Micah Savery-Richards.Zion Tordoff (11) scored heavily, as did team-mate Micah Savery-Richards. (Image: Max Lomas.)

But the Cavaliers fought back and with just over half of the third period played, they finally went 51-50 ahead.

For the next few minutes, the two sides matched each other almost shot for shot and with just three minutes of the quarter remaining, the scores were tied at 56-56.  

Only three more baskets were scored in what remained of the quarter, but two of those were for Thames Valley, meaning they had a 61-58 lead when the buzzer sounded.

A frustrating four minutes at the start of that final quarter saw the Dragons add only a single point to their score, whilst the Cavaliers set about opening up the largest lead of the game.

At 73-59 up, the away side looked home and hosed, and though Tordoff finally got Bradford on the scoresheet again with a spectacular dunk, at the midpoint of the quarter the gap was increased to 77-62.

But then, the fortunes of the two sides flipped and it was the hosts that went on a scoring spree, while their guests struggled to get anything to sink.

With just one minute of play remaining, it was game on, with the Dragons now only 78-75 behind.

But a crucial two extended Thames Valley’s lead and with time running out, the Dragons were forced into fouling in their attempts to gain possession.

But with the Cavaliers being clinical from the free throw line, the tactics failed to bring about the desired result and the game finished with the visitors taking an 84-78 win.

Unsurprisingly, the game’s high scorer was Justin Williams, who amassed a total of 27 points. He was well-supported by Zion Tordoff (19 points) and Micah Savery-Richards (19 points).    

Williams and his teammates travel to Reading Rockets on Sunday for their next league game, before returning to the Dragons Den the following weekend, when City of Birmingham Rockets will be looking to gain revenge for their KitKing Trophy quarter-final defeat to Bradford.