Bradford Dragons hosted Barking Abbey in a National Basketball League Division One fixture at Calderdale College’s Inspire Centre on Saturday night and despite a gutsy performance from the visitors, the home side did enough to ensure that they finished the year with a much-needed 96-81 win.

Barking, who currently sit bottom of the table, are the only club without a win so far this season. However, they came close to a first win against Newcastle University in their previous game and entered the Dragons’ Den full of confidence.

The Dragons were missing both of their big men, with Ricky Fetske still on the injury list and Zion Tordoff excluded due to concussion rules, having taken a blow to the head the previous weekend, in the National Cup defeat at Newcastle.

But despite the lack of a big man, Micah Savery-Richards won the tip-off, sending Rihards Šulcs down the court to open the scoring with an early two-point layup.

Jordan Whelan followed that up with a trey, to give the Dragons a five point lead.

The Dragons maintained the lead throughout the opening quarter and as the buzzer sounded for the first scheduled break in play, they were 37-29 ahead.

The second period was a completely different story though, with the Dragons struggling to build on their lead.

Barking managed to edge in front, only for Bradford’s young academy player, Camron Simpson, to step up with a three.

Justin Williams sank a layup too, allowing Bradford to reach half-time 48-47 in front.

After the break, Jabari Edwards quickly extended the Dragons’ advantage to three points, but at the midpoint of the third quarter, they were only 59-58 ahead.

But gradually, the Dragons’ started to pull clear and when Williams sank a trey in the final seconds of the quarter, he put his side into a healthy 77-67 lead.

There was no way back for the visitors, as Bradford pushed on and extended their lead to 19 points with just over three minutes of the game remaining.

The visitors recovered some control towards the final buzzer, but were still well beaten in the end.

The game high score went to Williams with an impressive 27 points, five rebounds and six assists, but even that was only good enough to share the player of the game award with Šulcs, who contributed 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and six steals.

Whelan was not far behind in the rankings with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Chris Mellor’s Bradford side do not play their next game until Saturday, January 13, when they take on Loughborough Riders.

Originally scheduled to be played at Loughborough University, the game has now been switched to the Dragons’ Den, with the away fixture to be rescheduled for later in the season.

Tickets for that home game will be available from early January via the club website.