BRADFORD Dragons, safe in the knowledge that their Division One status has been preserved for another season, celebrated with a fourth straight win.

The line-up defeated Essex Leopards 100-85 in the Dragons’ Den on Sunday afternoon.

The Dragons had the evening off on Saturday, However, defeats for three of the teams below them in the table effectively secured their place in the division for another season.

Nevertheless, both Bradford and Essex had plenty to play for, with the Dragons still harbouring thoughts of making the end of season play-offs, whereas a win for the Leopards would secure their spot in the top eight.

Lee Hodges opened the scoring with a lay-up for the Big Cats, adding a single from the line to give Essex an early three-point lead. Allie Fullah responded by slamming in a dunk for the Dragons before another Hodges lay-up restored the gap.

An unanswered seven-point streak by the visitors helped the Leopards go eight clear. The hosts reduced the gap to five thanks to another dunk from Fullah and a lay-up by Ricky Fetske, but Essex stretched it out again – this time to ten points.

A three from Andreas Lycoudis followed by a single from Jermayne Laing restricted the damage to six going into the first break.

Rihards Šulcs reduced the deficit to three at the start of the second and further points from Laing and another Lycoudis three put Bradford 26-24 ahead inside the opening two minutes of the quarter.

With four minutes of the half remaining, a Rafi Saipe lay-up put Bradford eight ahead, but a couple of threes from Findlay Wood and a two from Asante Sandiford levelled things up.

A succession of threes, another from Lycodis followed by a brace by Feske ensured that the Dragons went back to the locker room with a 47-43 lead.

Within 30 seconds of the restart the game was tied. However, the Dragons took a grip on proceedings and by the halfway point of the penultimate period their lead was back up to eight.

The visitors managed to reduce the deficit to three, but by the end of the third quarter the home side's lead was once again eight.

Laing and Fetske extended the lead to 14 early in the final quarter and the Dragons closed the game out with a 100-85 victory.

The University of Bradford player of the game went to Fetske, who recorded 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Head coach Chris Mellor commented: “It was an even first half, but I was really pleased with our toughness after the break and we played well at both ends. It keeps us in with a play-off shout with three left to play.”

The win leaves the Dragons ninth in the table, two points behind Leicester Warriors who occupy the final play-off berth.

On Saturday (7.30pm), the Dragons travel to leaders Team Solent Kestrels.

The final weekend of the season sees them in action twice. On Saturday, March 30 (6.15pm) they entertain Barking Abbey Crusaders and the following afternoon (4.15pm) third-place Loughborough Riders visit for the final regular fixture of the season.