The winning ways of the Dragons Rhondorf since the tragic death of Mubarak Salami continue as with 2 games to go in the regular season, the club led by head coach Julius Thomas is on a quest to finish the last 2 games in style before the post season starts. The home court advantage in the playoffs is a massive focus that they definitely want to take advantage of. They returned back into their living room after a huge 99-92 overtime win in Giessen despite Jacob Ledoux exploding for 33 points, the Dragons had 5 guys in double figures once again led by Devon Goodman (184-PG-1997, college: Pennsylvania) with a double double. In their last regular season home game, they welcomed the EN Baskets Schwelm who came with German veterans Chris Frazier and CJ Oldham and an ambitious American with Josh Boutte. The Dragons Rhondorf had easily disposed them of 80-65 on the road, but definitely a team they didn’t want to underestimate as they were fighting for the last playoff spot. On a mild early spring night, the Dragons Rhondorf Came out scoring but so did the EN baskets Schwelm as fans quickly witnessed high scoring which didn’t end until the buzzer, but in crunch-time the home team was able to make the crucial points and stops which propelled them to massive 109-101 win as their chances for home court advantage in the playoffs rose. ‘We didn’t do a good job rebounding in the first half as we couldn’t finish plays. We did a good job on stopping their pick and roll and rebounded better in the second half and had better ball movement. When you score 109 points, you played great offense, but then again allowing 101 points is too much’, stated ex Giessen 46ers Florian Koch. The EN Baskets Schwelm were fighting for the last playoff spot and were in the game until the end, but just couldn’t get over the hump as they fell 2 wins behind the 8th placed team for the last playoff spot. ‘We fought until the end. We knew that they were a very good offensive team and we just couldn’t stop it. We had a chance at the end, but overall we had big problems stopping them in the paint as they shot a very high percentage and we couldn’t handle them 1-1’, stressed ex Rostock Seawolves guard Chris Frazier.
Marius Behr from outside
The first quarter was a real dog fight as no team could run away from the other as there were 6 lead changes and the EN Baskets Schwelm had the slim 25-24 advantage after 10 minutes. Chris Frazier of the EN Baskets Schwelm that was coined the born shooter by Joe Asbery was surely on the scouting report of the Dragons Rhondorf, but they let him get free for 5 points as the guests had the rapid 5-2 lead. But the Dragons Rhondorf finally got their offense rolling as they attacked the rim time in and time out as German Florian Wendeler, Devon Goodman and Paul Albrecht took charge in the 6-0 run and 8-5 advantage. But the EN Baskets Schwelm did’t only have Chris Frazier, but had a capable arsenal of other guys that could execute at will as German 2017 NBBL champion with FC Bayern Munich Robert Merz connected on a 20 footer, Johan Flaa of Norway hit a trey while ex Detroit Mercy (NCAA) big man Malik Eichler gave suitable support from the bench with 2 baskets and Schwelm had the 16-15 lead despite 2 three’s by Nicolas Buchholz. But the EN Baskets Schwelm continued to show that they are more than a capable three point shooting team getting valuable three’s from 21 year old German Till Hornscheidt and Chris Frazier for the 22-17 lead. Hornscheidt continued to be aggressive scoring 3 more points for the 25-17 advantage. But the Dragons Rhondorf didn’t wilt at the end, but finished it strong getting 7 unanswered points to close out the first quarter trailing only 25-24. Buchholz connected on 3 free throws and 2023 Pro B MVP candidate Devon Goodman showed his road runner qualities scoring twice in the paint. ‘We executed great on offense, but couldn’t get stops. We let Frazier get going early that helped get his team going. Our 1-1 defense was unacceptable’, stressed Florian Koch. Both team shot over 50% from the field, but the guests shot an incredible 83% from outside while Rhondorf shot only 33%. The guests had the 8-5 rebound edge and 8 turnovers while Rhondorf had 7 turnovers.
Florian Koch at the FT line
The second quarter continued to showcase 2 clubs that had their offense working like a clock work but also two teams that couldn’t get their defensive execution working consistently. Both teams got some solid support in the first few minutes from their bigs Josh Boutte who played JUCO ball at Dodge City and Swedish national player Zaba Bangala, but the game was still close as the Dragons Rhondorf had the slim 34-31 lead. Devon Goodman continued to be a menace with his drive and quickness carrying his team and having the slim lead, but even when Rhondorf had the tight lead, the EN Baskets Schwelm had an answer as Hornscheidt scored and Frazier connected on a trey for the 44-43 lead,. After Paul Albrecht made free throws, it was Hornscheidt again who used his quickness when ever he could to his advantage making a sweet cross over and leaving Florian Wendeler in the dust to tie the game at 46-46. Hornscheidt who averages 8 points per game finished with 20 points, but his production was nothing out of the ordinary for his teammates. ‘He is big shot Till. He is always ready to play for us. He hustles on defense and got some offensive fouls for us’, expressed Chris Frazier. Despite CJ Oldham being in foul trouble, the ex Akron (NCAA) forward scored twice in the last minute, but the EN Baskets Schwelm couldn’t keep the lead as Koch took the Dragons Rhondorf into the break with a three pointer dead locking the game at 51-51. ‘We couldn’t control their bigs well enough. They fought very hard and made life difficult for us. They got way too many rebounds’, stated Florian Koch. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 62% from the field and 38% from the three point line and had 10 rebounds and 10 turnovers while the EN Baskets Schwelm shot 56% from the field and 67% from the three point line and had 17 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
Till Hornscheidt at the FT line
In the third quarter the Dragons Rhondorf were able to get an even better flow in their offense and buckle down a bit more on defense and led by as much as 11 points, but the EN Baskets Schwelm finished strong trailing only by 6 points. The EN Baskets Schwelm caught Rhondorf napping early on the offensive boards as Josh Boutte made a put back for the 53-51 lead. But the Dragons Rhondorf then went on a lethal 10-0 run to break open the game leading 61-53. On the run, ex Rostock guard Buchholz nailed 2 three’s while Bangala scored inside and Goodman scored on transition. The Dragons Rhondorf stepped up their defense making the shot attempts more difficult for Schwelm while their defense with blocks from Bangala and Koch sparked their offense. The guests got some key baskets from Robert Merz and Frazier, but the Dragons Rhondorf let it rain more three’s from Buchholz as he hit 2 more for the 68-57 advantage. The EN Baskets Schwelm always had an answer as they got valuable support from ex Bochum forward Marius Behr who connected for 2 three’s while Hornscheidt also made a trey as Rhondorf only led 72-68. Rhondorf kept up the offensive pressure with a Koch basket but the guests continued to get sound execution from Hornscheidt who added 5 more points as the EN Baskets Schwelm trailed only 77-73. Albrecht added an off balance shot and Frazier a runner at the buzzer, but the Dragons Rhondorf still led soundly 81-75. ‘We stressed the big point. Everybody knows we have the worst defense in isolation and one thing we have preached all season long is not to let the opponent use their strong hand and let them go with their weak hand and not let them get good shots. We were able to do this better’, stressed Paul Albrecht. ‘We had crazy turnovers and our early misses led to transition points for them. We did a good job on the offensive board’, said Chris Frazier. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 65% from the field and 40% from the parking lot and had 22 rebounds and 14 turnovers while the EN Baskets Schwelm shot 50% from the field and 57% from the parking lot and 23 rebounds and 12 turnovers.
Devon Goodman from outside
The Dragons Rhondorf continued to keep the lead in the fourth quarter, but could never totally shake the guests as they were only trailing by 3 points with less than a minute to play. The Dragons Rhondorf got early production from Wendeler who spun his way to the rim for 2 points and Albrecht nailed a trey for the 87-77 lead. But as usual the EN Baskets Schwelm were far away from hanging their heads as they were carried by their captain Chris Frazier who added 5 points to trail only 91-87. But the EN Baskets Schwelm got horrible news at the 6,07 minute mark as CJ Oldham fouled out. But that didn’t faze the guests as they continued to execute well keeping track with Koch and Goodman three’s by getting a trey from Merz and lay in’s from Johan Flaa and Behr to trail only 97-94. The Dragons Rhondorf then produced a 5-0 run with buckets from Albrecht and Koch for the 102-94 advantage. But Frazier stormed back with a three pointer to trail only 102-97 with a minute to go. After a quick lay in by Goodman, the guests had one last spec of energy getting a lay in from Boutte and Merz to trail only 104-101 with 35 seconds to go. Goodman then missed 3 of 4 free throws and it seemed like the Dragons Rhondorf may go down under pressure? ‘I wasn’t nervous after he missed the free throws. We have so much trust in him. He does so much for the team. I love him. He is one of the top 3 guys I have ever played with ‘, stated Paul Albrecht. The Dragons Rhondorf then buckled down on defense getting key stops and Paul Albrecht closed out the game with 4 free throws. ‘It was a real shoot out. They hit everything at the end, but we always had an answer. We got to the free throw line at the end and played defense the way we should’, commented Paul Albrecht. ‘Our mistakes and decisions hurt us at the end. They simply had more experience, but we gave all we had’, added Chris Frazier. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Devon Goodman with 26 points. Florian Kloch added 24 points and Nicolas Buchholz added 20 points while the EN Baskets Schwelm were led by Chris Frazier with 23 points. Till Hornscheidt added 20 points and Robert Merz 15 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 67% from the field and 46% from outside and had 28 rebounds and 18 turnovers while the EN Baskets Schwelm shot 52% from the field and 55% from outside and had 29 rebounds and 16 turnovers.