After a challenging month, Bulldogs First Team travelled to face a Colchester Bulls side loaded with National League talent, while the Suffolk side were missing top scorer Lewis Tebbit along with big guys Adam Maddison and Brandon Marshall.
The teams traded misses and baskets through some nervy opening minutes, with Bulls up 11-8 after five. A three from Ashley MacDonald tied the game up, before Jason Sykes and youngster Patrick Laycock fuelled a 10-4 run for Bulldogs to close out the first quarter up 15-23.
Bury began the second quarter on a tear, holding Bulls scoreless for four minutes, while extending their lead to 15-33 as Matt Spurling and Billy Smith joined Laycock on the scoresheet.
However, after exchanging baskets through the middle minutes of the quarter, a change in defensive tactics saw Bulls go on a 14-0 run in the final three minutes of the half, bringing it all the way back to 36-37 at the break.
The third quarter mirrored the first in performance, while Bulldogs lost Laycock to an ankle injury, and the sides nervously exchanged baskets. With the scores tied at 43, MacDonald uncharacteriscally missed a pair of free-throws, and the side would be forgiven for thinking "here we go again", as Bulls responded with their first lead since the opening minutes.
Instead the side rallied, rattling off a superb three minute, 17-2 run, with MacDonald at his disruptive best on the defensive side of the ball helping to create easy baskets for Spurling and Smith, before knocking a three for himself and seeing a Seb Benford buzzer-beater end the quarter with the Bulldogs on-top 47-60.
Another defensively dominant quarter saw the Bulldogs hold Bulls to just seven points, as Jimmy Steedman and Jack Teagle dialled-up the defensive intensity, while Sykes and Smith kept the scoreboard ticking over, en route to a 54-79 win.
MacDonald (16), Sykes (15), Spurling (14) and Smith (14) led a balanced attack for the Bulldogs.
"Defensively, that's the best we've been all season" said Coach Arron MacDonald. "These guys have had me in their ear for a month, questioning their toughness, their character and whether - frankly - they even care about one another. Tonight was a resounding response from everyone who pulled on a jersey for us that they do care, that they're willing to work for one another, and that we're ready to play tough, unselfish basketball."
"With all of that said, it's one game - and I still think we can be a lot better. Most impressively, I think our players agree, and they're ready to work their tails off to get us there."
Bulldogs Player of the Game was Ashley MacDonald, of whom the Coach said "When Ash is dialled-in like that defensively and being an energy guy before anything else, it's contagious - everyone else follows. Whenever there was an effort to be made, a pass to get a hand on or a loose ball to dive for, Ash was there. The biggest compliment I can give Ash is that he played the kind of game I only wish I'd have played when I pulled on our jersey. While it was a superb team effort, Ash was a credit to our club with that performance."
Up next for the Bulldogs is the cup clash against Colchester Bulls, on Sunday at Skyliner Sports Centre.