Seeing eye popping magnificent basketball clinics in the Dragan Dome has been nothing out of the ordinary or unusual in the last two seasons as fans have been spoiled like a kid can be when their long lost uncle comes to visit with a sack full of toys as they have witnessed special American talents Aaron Nelson and Kameron Taylor. The only difference has been that the Dragons have been winning this season more and are on course to not only reach the playoffs again, but are playing for the Pro B title. A big reason is the great team chemistry and German role players understanding their duties, but a even bigger reason has been American Kameron Taylor who took a step back in his second professional season coming from the Pro A in hopes of making two steps forward. He has been a candidate for Pro B MVP of the season since the start with his overwhelming all-around play. Fans saw another side of him in January as he put up amazing back to back triple doubles of 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the big 89-86 victory against Coburg and two weeks later did the basketball trick again under the watchful eyes of the home crowd posting a 22 point, 14 rebound and 12 assists outburst against the Dresden Titans as he helped the team keep their almost immaculate home record potent at 10-1 with a 91-74 win against the former Eastern Germany city. With January history and February having arrived, the American from Maryland who also produced a triple double with Seton Hill(NCAA) against Shippensburg was looking for the win first while fans were looking for that third triple double in a row at home, but it wouldn´t be easy as opponent Iserlohn had an identical 13-5 record and were seeking revenge for their 80-75 loss at home against Taylor and co. The game was a battle for three quarters as no team could get away from the other, but in the fourth quarter despite massive foul trouble, the Dragons Rhondorf buckled down getting the needed support form their German role players slipping by Iserlohn 82-71.
After the big victory, Taylor didn´t get that third triple double in a row at home, but was just happy the club won again at home. “Triple doubles come and go and I didn´t get one tonight. Teams are focusing more on me now. Triple doubles usually come on great nights and not good nights. I´ m always looking for the win. This was a big win and huge for the standings. It´s always nice to win for the fans at home especially during carnival. Rebounding and limiting them to one shot was key for the win”, stressed Maryland native Kameron Taylor. After the game a dejected Donte Nicholas was disappointed about folding at the end and kind words for his opponent Taylor. “Our game plan was too make everything as tough as possible for him, but he is the MVP of the league and even if he got into foul trouble, other guys stepped up. It was a neck to neck game for 30 minutes and I felt we did a good job executing and taking care of the ball against their pressure. We were tired in the fourth which limited our execution. We have to be better mentally if we want to be a top team”, warned Iserlohn forward Donte Nicholas.
Iserlohn was weakened by the departure of German point guard Soren Fritzke who left for Pro A team Hamburg Towers erasing 15 points that he was averaging with the Pro B team and German Kristof Schwarz was out while for Rhondorf the club was without big man Yannick Kneesch. Instead of seeing an offensive clinic to start of the game with a bang, fans saw two nervous teams serving up bricks as almost five minutes had gone by and the game was deadlocked 4-4. Both teams three best players Kameron Taylor, Donte Nicholas and Julian Scott had supplied all it´s teams points. Then both teams slowly found their offensive rhythm as ex Telekom Baskets Bonn German Valentin Blass and ex Giessen 46er Simon Kutzschmar nailed treys. The lead changes would go back and forth for a few minutes as Julian Scott who played with Houston Rocket Isaiah Hartenstein with TSV Quackenbruck when he was a rookie in 2014 got dominant in the paint getting a few buckets as his left hand really stood out. Iserlohn did a good job in the paint area getting a put back from 19 year old German Gabriel Oliveira, but energy spark plug German Patrick Reusch came from the bench nailing a trey to cut the Iserlohn lead to 19-18. Both teams were getting efficient production from their Germans, but Iserlohn was doing more of the little things to hold the lead. Kameron Taylor got Rhondorf the lead one more time with a tap in as he was aggressive on the offensive board, but sharp shooter Nikita Khartchenkov who played 115 BBL games for teams like Braunschweig, MBC, Hagen and Duesseldorf scored 5 unanswered points to close out the first quarter as Iserlohn led 23-19. “We always want to come out aggressive in every game. Both teams played with high energy and they did a good job matching our intensity. When we punched, they punched back. We fought through it, but it was a tough first quarter”, stressed Rhondorf guard Kameron Taylor. Iserlohn was shooting 41% form the field and 60% from outside and had grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven turnovers. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 44% from the field and 29% from outside and they had secured nine rebounds and had five turnovers.
In the second quarter the game remained tight and the Dragons Rhondorf got into foul trouble which would last until the end, but they never folded on account of it, but compensated it well. 19 year old German Anton Geretzki who had a triple double in the NBBL last season started off the second quarter with a trey cutting the Iserlohn advantage to 23-22. However Iserlohn struck back with back to back baskets from Scott and Khartchenkov to up their lead to 27-22. Rhondorf didn´t lose concentration or their intensity, but upped it going on an important 7-2 run to dead lock the contest at 29-29. Whenever the team needs a lift, the first candidate is often Kameron Taylor and this time it was him again as he scored on transition and made a jumper and the teams most versatile player German Thomas Michel who has 3 BBL games under his belt for Bonn nailed a trey from the corner. Then it seemed like the turning point of the game had arrived as German Alexander Moeller and American rookie from Georgia Brandon Watkins both had their third fouls at the 5.21 minute mark. Only two second later Watkins was hit with his fourth foul. Instead of letting up, the Dragons Rhondorf kept together as a team and other guys stepped up. The club got big buckets inside from Geretzki and Michel while Iserlohn got a 20 footer from De Oliveira to tie the score at 33-33. A reason why Rhondorf stayed in the game was their press defense which drove Iserlohn crazy as they kept turning over the ball. Iserlohn got some baskets from their American duo of Scott and Nicolas as well as a lay in from German Rueben Dahmen while Rhondorf got buckets from Michel and Blass as Iserlohn had the narrow 40-39 lead at the break. “Our bigs got some silly fouls that hurt us, so we played more physical. Michel and Geretzki did a good job picking up the slack. We didn´t allow their bigs to get good touches and our guards pressured their guards not to get good passes on the post”, added Kameron Taylor. Iserlohn was shooting 42% from the field and 33% from the three point line and 20 rebounds and 11 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 48% from the field and 31% from the three point line and hauled down 19 rebounds and had 11 turnovers.
In the third quarter, the game remained tight as Iserlohn was unable to take advantage of the Rhondorf foul trouble allowing the home team to remain in the game. Both teams started off with Michel and Nicholas shots as the game was tied 42-42. For a few minutes both teams couldn´t generate much offense as both teams were relying on their two top players and Nicolas who were carrying their respective teams. Nicholas got a few buckets, but Rhondorf got the lead back again through a Taylor basket 47-46. Then Iserlohn went on a rare run of 7-2 to gain some momentum to take the 53-49 lead. Iserlohn´s run was started by a key trey from versatile 207cm big man de Oliveria and two baskets in the paint from Scott who was on many occasions on the night unstoppable. They also got a key bucket from little used 19 year old German Viktor Ziring. Rhondorf stayed on their tails as Michel got a basket and then the guard terror of Reusch and Taylor steered a blazing 4-0 run to cut the Iserlohn lead to 57-55. Nicholas hit a jumper and then Watkins got out ahead of the pack getting a touch down pass from Kameron Taylor as Watkins finished with a hard two hand throw down, but Rhondorf still trailed, 59-57. “We didn´t execute the way we should. Coach let us know what to do, but sometimes there is a difference between what you know and what you actually do”, added Donte Nicholas. “We knew that many of their players were getting heavy minutes. We weren´t worried and did a good job executing our offense. We are an instinctive defensive team and we were smart when to go for steals and when not. We did a good job pressuring them bringing the ball as they were without Fritzke”, added Kameron Taylor. Iserlohn was shooting 43% from the field and 29% from the parking lot and had secured 26 rebounds and had 15 turnovers while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 51% from the field and 33% from the parking lot and had gotten 27 rebounds and had 18 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf took control of the game getting huge play from their German role players as well as some key defensive plays from Taylor. Even when Taylor left the game at the 2,52 minute mark with his fifth foul, the club didn´t fret, but still slammed the door shut on Iserlohn. After Taylor made free throws to tie the game at 59-59, Khartchenkov and Geretzki traded buckets as the game was dead locked at 61-61. Then came the turning point of the game as the Dragons Rhondorf went on a 8-2 to extend their lead to 69-63 and they would never look back. In the run, Rhondorf was carried and fortified with six points from the German heart and soul of the club Viktor Frankl-Maus as he demonstrated again that he can be a great complementary player to Taylor in that he can also decide a game at any time like his American teammate. He nailed a pretty floater, free throw and three pointer. In the run, Rhondorf was hit with another blow as Watkins got his fifth foul at the 7.24 minute mark, but that didn´t stop them. Rhondorf got quality minutes from Geretzki who had to fill in at the big positions and he grabbed two key offensive rebounds. Iserlohn didn´t give up and gave one last spec of energy getting big baskets from De Oliveira and Scott to cut the lead down to three points twice. With the score 71-68, Taylor gambled twice despite having four fouls and made two huge steals which led to three free throws and the 74-68 lead. Then Taylor was hit with his fifth foul with 2.52 minutes remaining, but like so often this season, the club stayed mentally strong and put that final dagger through the heart of Iserlohn with back to back three´s from Michel and Geretzki for the 80-69 lead which sealed the win. Frankl-Maus and Blass then hit some free throws while Scott made a left handed lay in which was the last points scored in the game. “They keyed in on me more. My teammates stepped up as usual making big shots again. We did a good job limiting them to one shot and time was on our side”, warned Kameron Taylor. “We stopped executing. Their zone press took us out of the game. They made big shots at the end and we didn´t. That was the difference”, said Donte Nicholas. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Kameron Taylor with 25 points. Thomas Michel assed 16 points, seven boards and four assists. Viktor Frankl-Maus added 11 points and Anton Geretzki had 10 points. Iserlohn was led b Julian Scott with 20 points. Donte Nicholas had 15 points and Gabriel De Oliveira had 10 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shotv47% from the field and 36% from outside and had 45 rebounds and 20 turnovers. Iserlohn shot 38% from the field and 18% from outside and had 35 rebounds and 19 turnovers.