The Dragons Rhondorf Witness Turnaround Season But Experience No Happy End

The script couldn´t have been more perfect for Kameron Taylor taking a step back to the Pro B from the Pro A in hopes to take two steps forward with the Pro B title and a future EasyCredit gig, but instead the usual so charming and warm smile of the American from Maryland was absent after his and the Dragons Rhondorf season ended abruptly in Wolfenbuettel 103-91 as they were swept by the farm team of the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. Instead of enjoying the beautiful spring weather and chilling with a Paulaner beer and Pretzel at the Rhein Café and Biergarden Grafenwerth on Germany´s most famous river Rhein at the end of April and dreaming about a Pro B title, Kameron Taylor who has produced triple doubles at the college and professional level came back to Rhondorf in the wee hours of the morning of March 19 with minus Celsius temperatures with spring in mid march as far away as the German soccer team HSV is from staying in the Bundesliga. Taylor´s season had non-characteristically ended as those visits to the café´s along the Rhein river in Rhondorf or Bonn in the next weeks when it gets warmer will be without him seeing any more action with the Dragons Rhondorf. The Dragons Rhondorf faced a tough opponent with MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel and one where they didn´t match up well on paper so for some the series loss might not come to unexpected, but there was simply so much hope by the fans, Dragons Rhondorf club and especially Kameron Taylor that this wouldn´t only be a long season in the post season, but be ultimately be crowned with the Pro B title. The basketball God had other ideas, but all in all it was a great season for the Dragon Rhondorf witnessing a turnaround from last season, but there would be no happy end.


Last seconds before Kameron Taylor´s buzzer beater winning shot against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. One of the season highlights in the Dragon Dome

The Dragons Rhondorf didn´t necessarily go into the Wolfenbuettel series as the favorite, but they had high hopes that they could get to the next round.

Key in this series was losing game one at home in their comfortable living room. Had they won game one, then the momentum would have been with the Dragons Rhondorf and MTV Wolfenbuettel would have had their backs to the wall and the series may have gone totally different and Kameron Taylor may still have been smiling now. In game one the keys to the loss  were MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel doing a fine job taking Kameron Taylor out of his comfort zone and not letting him play his usual scoring game as he was limited to only 17 points and they made everything very difficult for him.

It also didn´t hurt the guests that the BBL license players of Lagerpusch, Figge, Alte and Ebert combined for 40 points and even if the German kids were young, their overall experience was a big factor. Head coach Steven Esterkamp did a superb job with the scouting and his players followed his command and played superb team basketball and showed their best team work in crunch-time. The Rhondorf bigs with Brandon Watkins and Alex Moeller did a solid job combining for 19 points, but what was missing then and all season was that more dominant and consistent inside scorer. It didn´t have to be an Aaron Nelson, but a guy who would get you your 10-14 points on a consistent rate and here and there get you some 20 plus points to compliment Kameron Taylor with the scoring. The German trio of Lars Lagerpusch, Tom Alte and Ole Angerstein combined for 30 points and were deeper inside and just hurt Rhondorf all night long with their lob passes and easy finishes. In game two, the Dragons Rhondorf couldn´t rely on their defense as they allowed 93 points per game in the series. The defense lost it´s flair in the second half of the season after a good few months where it was consistent and was the back bone of their play. MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel were better in all statistical categories except for having two more turnovers. The high shooting percentages and 21 assists once again proved the sensational team basketball that Wolfenbuettel play and had no problems playing without BBL license player Tom Alte as the other three of Lagerpusch, Figge and Ebert had great games again showing their knack of stepping up in big moments as they combined for 37 points and contributed more than in game one. It also didn´t hurt that the Wolfenbuettel heart and soul of the team Demetrius Ward stepped up again as that huge desire to play Pro A has been a big goal for years and being able to compete against Kameron Taylor surely upped his competitiveness and desire to play his best as he produced 20 points, 8 assists and six boards. He did a great job doing what the defense gave him and he separated his scoring and playmaking with ease helping lead his team to the sweep. Kameron Taylor had a huge game with 36 points and took on responsibility, but didn´t get enough support as the usual durable and consistent Thomas Michel stepped up with 18 points and Viktor Frankl-Maus produced 10 points, but couldn´t reach the next level in game two. Rhondorf once again couldn´t produce inside as Watkins and Moeller combined for only 10 points as MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel dominated inside as Lagerpusch and Angerstein combined for 26 points. The Dragons Rhondorf simply were lacking depth and the needed talent to match Wolfenbuettel.


The captain and top Pro B point guard Viktor Frankl-Maus had another strong season averaging 13,0ppg, 4,0rpg and 5,2apg

After a unforgettable Pro A season in 2015-2016 where the Dragons Rhondorf won only a pathetic 2 games and Playdowns appearance last season, the Dragons Rhondorf returned this season giving a much needed fresh breath of air belonging to the top teams in the Pro B south regular season and diehard Dragons fans will look back at this season with fondness. Before we get to the countless positives of the season, why weren´t the Dragons Rhondorf a title team after all? The team displayed sound team chemistry early on and for many possibly too soon as that peaking too quickly seemed to be a reality. Despite the early team chemistry and players knowing their roles, the club was unable to develop their team chemistry and build on it the right way, because guys like KJ Sherrill, Ronalds Elknis and Kevin Thomas gave their two cents to the success early in some way, but their departures held back the development of the team. Despite the comings and goings, the club was able to adjust well at times despite playing only with 1-2 imports for quite a few games. Everybody was raving about the energy and consistency of the defense as in the first 12 games where the team was 10-2, they gave up only 73 points per game, but in the last 12 games, the team went 5-7 and gave up 83 points on average. The old adage is that defense wins titles. The Dragons Rhondorf clearly showed in the Wolfenbuettel series that they were not a title team allowing 93 points on average in the two game series. Another problem was the inside game. They simply had no depth down low. Even if a Kameron Taylor is a very good rebounder on account of his athleticism and long arms, you know you have a problem when he is the team rebound leader with 7,9.  It was the inside game that took the biggest heartaches as Ronalds Elknis was a disappointment and left around Christmas and Kevin Thomas was a strong rebounder and defender, but had limited scoring abilities. The same was with Brandon Watkins. The ex West Virginia(NCAA) rim protector was a defensive stopper, but averaged only 6,3ppg. German Alex Moeller is still young and raw and had some good games, but was inconsistent. When the team needed him the most in game two, he scored only two points and couldn´t contain the Wolfenbuettel big men. The Dragons Rhondorf simply were lacking a real dominant and scoring big man like an Aaron Nelson to give the team more of a dangerous presence down low. Another problem was the depth of the German role players. Rhondorf have solid players, but when they faced a team like Wolfenbuettel, they were unable to match up with their German role players as they were lacking in depth and talent. The Dragons were missing that real dominant consistent scoring German who could take some of the load off Kameron Taylor´s shoulders.

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19 year old German Anton Geretzki is continuing to develop averaging 6,3ppg, 2,6rpg and 1,0apg

Despite the early playoff loss and no Pro B title to brag about, there were so many positives with the team. New CEO Alexander Dohms brought in new blood and hope to a club that had numerous question marks and was heading down a narrow one way road and he did a great job bringing organization back to the club, finding the right player with Kameron Taylor and bringing in a young head coach with Thomas Adelt who was as motivated for the challenge as Kameron Taylor was of being a big success at the Pro B level. Adelt did a great job handing out the new roles and having his players especially the German ones with buying into his system. The big winner was Kameron Taylor who stat wise was the best player in the Pro B registering two triple doubles against Coburg and Dresden and registering a buzzer beater against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. His inspiring and brutal consistent all around game made it a duty for fans to return back to the Dragon Dome each Saturday. His amazing play on the court and immaculate character off the court made him the perfect role model for young and old. It is a pity that Taylor won´t return back to Rhondorf as he has deserved to make the next step to the EasyCredit BBL which will happen as there are some teams interested in his services. Point Guard Viktor Frankl-Maus had another solid season and belongs to the top point guards in the Pro B. If not next season then latest in 2019-2020, he should get a chance in the Pro A. Another big winner was Thomas Michel who seems to be back on track of getting a chance at a higher level. He was the teams most versatile player and the team´s third best scorer and always played with that special energy that was hard to copy. Other Germans like Valentin Blass and Anton Geretzki also made a next step. Blass who had played 14 BBL games with the Telekom Baskets Bonn was one of the German leaders on the team and worked himself into the starting lineup while 19 year old Geretzki is another young German with a huge upside and potential as his energy and ability to knock down big shots and read the game was a big luxury for the team. Geretzki should be able to make the jump to a higher league in the next two years. Last but not least Patrick Reusch was also an important player in the Dragons success. He had battled against hard odds with a tough injury over the summer which led him to miss the pre season which really kept his development back, but when he was healthy he found his way into the rotation quickly and as always was that vital energy spark from the bench on both ends of the court. With Taylor, Frankl-Maus and him there weren´t many better defensive trio´s in the Pro B south. His most unforgettable moment was scoring 18 points in 18 minutes in a 97-73 win against KIT Karlsruhe where he stepped up for Taylor early as he had caught two quick fouls. All in all it was a successful and enjoyable season for the Dragons Rhondorf that finally came to life again after two poor seasons from 2015-2017. The success of this season brings hope to next season as it will be interesting to see how the roster shapes up and if Alexander Dohms can reel in a new Kameron Taylor like player. Next season one may see a Kameron Taylor in the Dragon Dome, but not on the court, but as a spectator as if he does land with the Telekom Baskets Bonn, then he will only have a 20 minute ride to catch a few games next season. No matter how good or bad the season is going for the Dragons Rhondorf in 2018-2019, just seeing Kameron Taylor again and witnessing that winner smile will bring happiness back to anyone as the 2017-2018 season had no happy end, but many sweet unforgettable memories that will live for a long time.

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