Dragons claim scalp of cross-city rivals
THE S o u t h D r a g o n s breathed life into Melbourne’s NBL rivalry with a runaway 107-94 win over league leaders the Melbourne Tigers at a packed Vodafone Arena last night.
The Dragons’ win, in a fiercely fought, seesawing battle in front of a crowd of 9175 people, broke an eightgame winning streakfor the Tigers.
It was the second match between the two clubs, with the first, which the Tigers won in round five, the last game in charge for inaugural Dragons coach Mark Price, who had led the team through a winless season start.
Last night’s win tookthe Dragons to a 10-12 record, 10-7 since Shane Heal took over from Price as playercoach.
The s c o r i n g f o r t h e Dragons was dominated by three players — forward Rosell Ellis (29), exciting young bench player Joe I n g l e s ( 2 8 ) and guard Kavossy Franklin (26), with no other member of the team making it into double figures.
Ellis also pulled down 11 rebounds in a valiant effort against the tall Tigers side, while teammate Jacob Holmes grabbed 16 boards.
Ellis, Ingles and Franklin were all superb in the final term, notching 24 of their side’s 31 points, while Holmes notched 10 rebounds for the term as the Dragons stormed home after trailing by two points at the final change.
The Tigers had earlier fought backfrom nine points down early in the second half with a ferocious defensive effort in the third quarter to take the lead.
Dave Thomas scored 23 points for the Tigers, with Chris Anstey and Rashad Tucker each scoring 18.
Heal said the victory was exactly what the Dragons and Melbourne’s basketball community needed.
‘‘I guess the Tigers have accused us of being just about the promotion and nothing about winning,’’ Heal said.
‘‘I thinkit was certainly great for the rivalry of basketball in this city and obviously a huge injection for how we can go and how we feel about ourselves for the season.’’
Heal was full of praise for 19-year-old Ingles, who made five three-pointers from eight attempts, and said he would be in the next Boomers squad.
‘‘I have no doubt he’ll be in it . . . I spoke to (Boomers coach) Brian Goorjian a couple of days ago and he’s excited about somebody like Joe and the other good young kids around the country,’’ he said.
Heal also said Ellis’ effort was remarkable, ‘fighting out of his weight class’ against Tigers giant Anstey.
Melbourne coach Alan Westover said his team should not have been outrebounded, given its size advantage, with the Dragons winning that category 56-43.
But he suggested the referees tookthe size difference between the two teams into account.
COMING THROUGH . . . Darryl McDonald and Shane Heal do battle during last
night’s NBL clash between the Dragons and Tigers