Scoring Takes A Back Seat As The Artland Dragons Outgrind The Fraport Skyliners 49-44

The Artland Dragons have gotten used to winning a lot in the last months as they have won 13 of their last 15 games, but the cozy living room of the Fraport Skyliners hasn´t been as inviting for the Quackenbruck team the last years as the last time that they exited the floor victorious, current dragon Anthony King was still cruising down south beach enjoying the waves and creating havoc under the boards in the NCAA with Miami, the Spanish national soccer team was still dreaming of winning a major title as the 2008 European championships and 2010 World Cup weren´t in their grasp yet and Justin Bieber posters hadn´t been made yet and weren´t filling the bed room walls of teenage girls around the globe yet. The last time the Artland Dragons were able to defeat Frankfurt in Frankfurt, the date was April 15th 2007 as they prevailed 77-69 as Chad Prewitt led them with 15 points and nine rebounds. For a team that averages 88 points a game this season, anyone who came into the Fraport arena in the last minute and saw the score had to rub their eyes first to believe that the Artland Dragons were kept under 50 points, but still won 49-44 in front of 4,860 patrons. It was the first win after losing the last four attempts in Frankfurt and some players had to think strong and hard where they were back that spring day in 2007. “I was a junior and was averaging 9ppg and 8rpg and was the second best shot blocker in the ACC. Germany was far from my mind, but I was thinking about possibly turning professional after my junior year, but my mom talked me into staying and getting my degree. I am just happy I won here, because my rookie season in Frankfurt was tough”, stressed ex Skyliner Anthony King. Another player that had to take some seconds to recollect where he was in 2007 was Brandon Thomas who had lost twice with Braunschweig in Frankfurt and had unplesant memories of the Fraport arena. “Back in 2007, we beat Alabama and Jermareo Davidson in the NIT with a last second shot by Chris Lowe. Two years ago, we lost in Frankfurt on the last game day and had to watch TV to see if we would get in the playoffs and another team lost so we got in. Last season, Dashaun Wood beat us with a last second shot. It felt good to win here even if it was an ugly win”, commented Artland Dragon Brandon Thomas.

After the game two opponents were all smiles and joking around as one player was reminding the other to pick up the phone when he calls as Jimmy Mckinney and Anthony King were catching up on lost time as both were teammates in the 2008-2009 season in Frankfurt. King didn´t get much playing time that season as in the Beko BBL, he played 31 games averaging 3.2ppg and 2.8rpg. However in the last two years, the big man from Durham, North Carolina who played at Miami(NCAA) developed further in Cyprus with InterCollege Etha Engomis where two seasons ago he gobbled up the league averaging 23,6ppg and 14,8rpg and last season 17.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-1(2.0bpg) in 8 Eurochallenge games before ending the season season in Greece with Aris Thessaloniki. King returned back to Frankfurt and had a solid game scoring six points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out one assist and swatting away three balls in 27 minutes. Both guys only had the fondest memories of their time together in Frankfurt. “I always talk to Jimmy even now. It was nice to be on the court with him again. He is a real good guy and he really made the adjustment easier for me when I was a rookie”, stressed Anthony King. Mckinney remembered one game in particular of King where he took a part an ex NBA player. “King is a very funny guy. I have been through many players and I can say that I have a long term friendship with him. I remember the game in Bamberg where he came cold into the game as a starter and had a great double double against Alexander Johnson”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney.

There is a famous saying that when something is working, stick with it and don’t change anything. It is only obvious if a Jimmy Mckinney, Brian Roberts or Dashaun Wood are hot, then these guys should continue to get the ball. However only 96 hours earlier, the Fraport Skyliners sailed into Goettingen and relied on a six man rotation and no classical point guard to win. Michale Thompson had hurt his shoulder in practice prior to the Goettingen game and sat out. The last days, it wasn´t clear if Thompson would play, but after 40 minutes against the Artland Dragons, Muli Katzurin had done it again playing with a six man rotation, no classical point guard as Thompson sat out again and four guys that played the full 40 minutes. Frankfurt did an incredible almost unbelievable act limiting the Dragons to 19 points at halftime, but couldn´t keep it up in the second half as the Quackenbruck found their rhythm on offense and improved the intensity of their defense to escape the Fraport arena with a 49-44 win. “We wanted to keep the score low, because we knew that they can score a lot and fast. It was tough playing without a point guard again. Everybody stepped up which made us play better together. We just didn´t have enough at the end to pull out a win”, added Skyliner forward Jacob Burtschi. For the Artland Dragons, they achieved a hard fought win which keeps them near the top with the big guns Alba Berlin, Bamberg and ratiopharm Ulm.

“We didn´t underestimate Frankfurt. We knew they had beat BG Goettingen with a small rotation and that it would be a tough game. It is never easy to play with six players, but we had to run at them. We got our defense going which got our offense going”, expressed Dragon guard David Holston. If one would of predicted that the Artland Dragons would be kept under 50 points before the game started, one would have been declared as crazy as if Paris Hilton announced she would run for office. The 49-44 result was the second lowest in the history of the Beko BBL and the 21-19 halftime score was the lowest ever in the history of the Beko BBL. “I think that this has to rank at the top of my lowest game point as a team in my career. The score could have been 2-0. All that would have mattered was that we got the win”, smiled David Holston.

The Artland Dragons didn´t waste any time taking their scoring guns out of their holsters as they quickly jumped on Frankfurt taking a 5-0 lead as Brandon Thomas hit a fade away jumper and Detroit native David Holston a three pointer. The rapid begin by the Artland Dragons didn´t faze the Fraport Skyliners as they retaliated quickly going on a 6-0 run to lead 6-5. Davidson who has had good starts in the last games, started with an air ball, but hit his second shot with a typical fade away jumper, Jimmy Mckinney then nailed a pull up jumper and Davidson scored again with a finger tip roll in. King then made two free throws and Brandon Thomas snuck into the zone getting a bucket on a lay in as Artland led 9-6. Mckinney then converted on a fade away jumper and Thomas made one of two free throws as the Artland Dragons had a slim 10-8 lead after one quarter. “Both teams were having big problems getting their offense to work. Both teams defended very well especially Artland who were very physical”, stressed Fraport Skyliner PRO B player Jan Novak. The Artland Dragons were shooting 27% from the field and 25% from outside while The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 25% from the field and 0% from outside. Artland had the slim 12-10 rebound edge and two turnovers while Frankfurt had one turnover. In the second quarter, both teams stayed as close to each other on the score board with points as Bryan Bailey does on his opponent. Basketball usually is a game of runs, but this game had few in the first half. In the first three minutes of the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners stayed on the basketball heels of the Artland Dragons three times to knot the score. German national player Johannes Herber got Frankfurt on the board first with a jumper to tie the score 10-10. American Darren Fenn then scored on an easy lay up getting a shovel pass from Holston to take the lead 12-10. Then it was time for a new installment of the Jermareo Davidson show. The ex NBA player had shown in Braunschweig that he can score in bunches would score 10 consecutive points leading Frankfurt on a 10-2 run to lead 20-14. Davidson made a lay up to tie the score at 12-12. Fenn then scored a untypical basket making a floater standing as Artland led 14-12. Davidson then drew two fouls getting four points on free throws and then scored two easy cherry picking lay ins as Quantez Robertson penetrated twice and set up the American for the easy buckets. With a few minutes remaining, the Skyliners were unable to increase their lead allowing the Dragons to go on a 5-1 run to trail Frankfurt only 21-19. Ex Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Johannes Strasser made a three pointer and Bryan Bailey scored inside.

“Frankfurt was defending very well as Artland was having difficulty with their zone/man defense. Davidson carried the team on offense, but they missed some lay ups, but Artland were very physical under the basket in which Frankfurt had problems scoring”, commented Jan Novak. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 30% from the field and still 0% from the three point line and the Artland Dragons were shooting 30% from the field and 25% from the three point line. The Artland Dragons had the 20-17 rebound edge, but six turnovers and Frankfurt had only three turnovers. It was only a matter of time before The Artland Dragons would escape from their shell and explode on offense like a Dragon who had had his fire sprouting capability dismantled for a while. The Artland Dragons raced out on a 14-3 run to lead 34-23. Nathan Peavy started the run with a bang dropping two three pointers in a row as the Artland Dragons led 25-21. Mckinney then hit his most reliable shot the pull up jumper as Frankfurt trailed 25-23. Artland continued to pour on the offense which also was helped with heads up defense as King made a monster block on Burtschi as Holston got the ball and fed Thomas and he finished with a dunk. Strasser then hit a fade away jumper, King made two free throws and Holston made a floater. Mckinney made a big three pointer and Robertson free throws to cut the gap to 36-28 lead for the Artland Dragons after three quarters.

“In the first half, our offense was running too slow. Coach wanted us to run more after getting the rebound and we did that better in the third quarter”, added David Holston. “We had some mental lapses in the third quarter. They got their rhythm, we had silly turnovers and couldn´t hit our shots. That is why they are one of the top teams in the league”, said Jacob Burtschi. The Artland Dragons were shooting 34% from the field and 29% from the parking out while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 27% from the field and 14% from the parking lot. Artland had the slight 28-26 rebound advantage and seven turnovers while the Skyliners had nine turnovers. In the fourth quarter, The Fraport Skyliners continued to play with a six man rotation and quickly let the Artland Dragons jump on a 6-2 run to heighten their lead to 42-30. Little used German Guido Grunheid who has won 7 German titles started the fourth quarter scoring with a lay in. The heart and soul of the Dragons Bailey stepped it up on offense and defense scoring inside with a sweet penetration from the wing and a steal and coast to coast sprint for a layup while Quantez Robertson scored on the other end with a pretty head and pass fake to the right and finishing with his left hand. With time running down, the Fraport Skyliners had one last gasp of energy as they got back into the ball game with a fascinating 9-0 run to cut the Dragon lead to only 42-39. Mckinney started the run with a catch and pop, Herber made a rare reverse under hand layup, Davidson a lay up and Mckinney a gigantic jumper with one second left on the shot clock and the Fraport arena cooking wth pure adrenaline. Frankfurt played consistent defense forcing Grunheid, Holston, Thomas and Peavy to difficult shots. Bailey then hit a difficult shot in traffic in the lane as the Dragons led 44-39. After a Mckinney miss, Peavy made two free throws as Frankfurt trailed 46-39. Davidson then made a tricky floater as Frankfurt trailed only 46-41. Frankfurt then made a huge stop forcing Artland to a turnover as they didn´t get a shot off in the 24 second time. Frankfurt had possession and Mckinney missed a three pointer to cut the lead to 46-44.

“I hesitated a bit and should off come off the screen. Peavy had a hand up. I wanted the ball at the end like I always do in those kind of sit uations, but it didn´t want to fall”, stressed Jimmy Mckinney. Holston and Peavy then made free throws sealing the win for the Artland Dragons. Robertson hit a three pointer with a few second remaining, but it wasn´t enough as the Dragons won 49-44. “We left it all out on the court. We just ran out of gas and were a bit flat on the shots. We gave 110% on defense”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “The key for the win at the end was that we kept our composure. We got the needed stops, rebounds and worked the ball inside well”, added David Holston. “We could of gotten flustered, but we stayed composed on offense even if we only scored 49 points”, added Anthony King.

The Artland Dragons were led by Nathan Peavy with 10 points. The Fraport Skyliners only had four players who scored and were led by Jermareo Davidson with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Jimmy Mckinney had 13 points. Both teams shot a miserable 33% from the field and 24% from outside by the Dragons and only 18% for the Skyliners. It was a defensive game as both teams showed a strong effort limiting each other on the offensive end. “Many say that we can´t play defense, but we held a good team to 44 points”, warned Anthony King. “We did all possible to win this game. We kept them in a half court game and not let them run. It was a great defensive effort”, added Jimmy Mckinney. Frankfurt did another great job taking care of the ball having only 11 turnovers with out a classical point guard. The Fraport Skyliners visit the LTi Giessen 46ers on January 2 and are coming off a 83-64 loss in Oldenburg and have lost four of the last five games. “We have to continue to play good defense and step up our offense in Giessen to have good chances of winning”, stated Jacob Burtschi.

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