2016 – Thunder quietened by Big Cats
Ladi Brown led the Big Cats for the third time in six games with 20 points and six rebounds. Scotland international Dougie Bennett had 15 points in under 19 minutes while Will Ashby added 13 points and five boards. Courtney Van Beest finished with eight points and six rebounds, while Albert Margai had eight assists to go with his six points. Coach Steve Ogunjimi gave a first start of the season to England junior international Evan Walshe while Connor Stuart returned to the side after missing the last two games due to illness.
Brown hit a pair of baskets to open the scoring, before Ashby and Walshe put Leopards 8-4 up after three minutes. A Brown and-one made it a five point game but some poor defending saw Thunder rattle off nine straight points, forcing Ogunjimi to call a timeout..
Tom Martin broke the run with a single free-throw before Brian Nguru hit a jump shot and then sunk a buzzer-beating three pointer to give Leopards an 18-17 lead at the first break.
American James Cambronne – who led his team with a 23 point, 13 rebound double-double – restored Thunder’s lead with the first score of the second period before treys from Bennett and Ashby gave Leopards a lead they would never lose.
Thunder hung around and it was a 12-3 run in the final three minutes of the second period which put the hosts in charge as captain Margai scored six of points with Brown converting a three point play as the home side took a 40-32 lead into the locker room at half-time.
Cambronne cut the lead with the first four points of the second half before Ashby answered, and threes from Bennett and Ashby looked to have sewn the game up as the Big Cats took a double-digit lead before a 7-0 Worthing run cut the advantage to 54-50 going into the final break.
Jamie Hayes and Brown doubled that lead with the opening scores of the fourth period and, after missing a pair of free-throws, Bennett made it a ten point game heading into the final three minutes Cambronne answered, but Thunder never got closer than eight points as Leopards wrapped up their ninth league win of the campaign.
The only downside for Ogunjimi would have been his side’s struggles from the free-throw line as they converted only six of their 16 foul shots but they did an excellent defensive job on Thunder’s Tom Ward who missed all 16 of his field goal attempts and finished with just (a light) two points in more than 37 minutes of action .
2015 – Leopards edged out in Reading
Leopards’ stay at the top of NBL Division One proved to be a brief one as they went down 73-69 at Reading Rockets, on Saturday. The Big Cats are now joint second in the table with the Rockets, and with both sides having won their home match-up against each other by four points if they finish level at the end of the campaign the decider will go down to over-all points difference.
Robert Youngblood’s side were without leading scorer Dave Ajumobi’s due to a chest infection and they clearly missed the British forward as big men Lawrence Brown and Lukas Winegarner got into foul trouble. .
Brown in particular was the victim of a couple of harsh calls which saw him foul out in under 15 minutes of play. The visiting side, led by 14 points from captain Albert Margai, led for most of the game but came up short at the end as Rockets’ English forward Danny Carter took over the game with his side’s final nine points do not download zoom.
Courtney Van Beest made a rare start in the absence of Ajumobi to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds despite being forced to play as centre for part of the game, while Will Ashby added 12 points and Ladi Brown eight.
Lawrence Brown got Leopards off the mark with a dunk, and after Van Beest had sunk a trey to put them 7-4 up, they led the throughout the opening period before Ladi Brown’s sent them into the first break with a 21-13 lead.
Winegarner scored off a Matic Zupanc assist to give Leopards double-digit lead to open the second period, before Zupanc hit a triple to keep his side comfortably in front. The lead peaked at 13 following a four-point play from Zupanc, but with the game disrupted by a plethora of fouls at both ends of the court, Rockets fought their way back within three before Margai’s drive to the basket gave Leopards a 41-36 half-time lead.
It took over three minutes for Leopards to get off the mark in the second half, with Margai eventually taking the lead back out to three points. Ashby kept Leopards ahead with a pair of three-pointers and Margai also scored from downtown in a quarter that saw both teams live at the foul line, and it was Ashby who sunk a pair of free-throws to give the visitors a 60-53 lead at the final break.
Carter opened the fourth period scoring as Rockets tied the score with the first seven points before Byron Richards put Leopards back in front.
Lawrence Brown fouled out with 6:18 on the clock and the game tied, and a Carter jump shot put his side up by six at the 3:50 mark before back-to-back scores from Van Beest and a second Richards gave the visitors a 69-68 lead with 2:36 remaining.
That proved to be as good as it got for the Big Cats, though as Carter took over on his way to a game-high 27 points, and when Ashby missed a pair at the line with four seconds remaining, Leopards third league loss of the season was confirmed.
2010 – Leopards mauled by Tigers
Leopards 68 (8, 31, 50) Taunton Tigers 72 (19, 45, 56)
LEOPARDS were made to pay for a poor start, going down 72-68 against Taunton Tigers – allowing the West Country side to complete a league double against them this season. Carl Latham-Henry again led the Leopards’ scoring with 23 points in a 40-minute performance, adding seven assists and two steals, while Marlan Henry added 18 points and Laurent Irish 12. Leigh Greenan finished with ten rebounds to go with his six points and four blocks.
Leopards coach Jon Burnell had close to his strongest team available, although Sam Richardson is likely to be out until March with a broken thumb, and veteran point guard Ronnie Baker played only seven minutes as he started his comeback from illness.
American forward Chris Page led the Tigers with 28 points and nine rebounds, while Simon Kearney finished with 13 and Adam Rickwood 11.
Page drained a trey to open the scoring, and Tigers scored the first seven points of the period. Latham-Henry broke the tear with a single free-throw, but a Kearney trey saw Taunton open a 14-3 lead with three first period minutes remaining.
Leopards’ offensive woes continued despite scores from Leigh Greenan and Ignazio De Ferrari, and with Tim Clifford hitting a pair of free-throws, Tigers went into the first break 19-8 ahead.
An Irish basket and a pair of Latham-Henry free-throws saw Leopards trim the deficit to eight points early in the second period, but two 6-0 runs saw Tigers continue the onslaught and despite a pair of Henry baskets they went into the locker room trailing 45-31.
Tigers opened the second half with a 7-2 run, Irish scoring the Leopards’ basket, as they made it a 19 point game. Latham-Henry chipped away at the deficit from the foul line, and Irish added a free-throw , but Rickwood made it 54-36 with a pair from the charity stripe after Leopards’ coach Jon Burnell was called for a technical foul. With five third period minutes remaining, Leopards finally started playing, and a De Ferrari steal started a 14-0 run.
Latham-Henry hit one from two at the charity stripe before Henry took over, hitting three straight treys in a two minute spell before scoring a long two. Latham-Henry finished the run with a two, and although Kearney broke the run, Leopards went into the final break trailing just 56-50.
Latham-Henry opened the fourth period with a free-throw followed by a jump shot, and De Ferrari scored off Latham-Henry’s assist to make it a one point game.
After two scoreless minute, Clifford drained a three to put Tigers up by four, and they remained ahead until treys from Latham-Henry and Irish saw Leopards level at 63 with 3:42 on the clock. However Kearney hit a long two and Rickwood scored a dagger three off Page’s assist.
Irish reduced the arrears off Latham-Henry’s assist, but Page effectively put the game beyond Leopards with an and-one with 89 seconds remaining. The Big Cats only managed two more field goal attempts, with Henry missing a trey before hitting one to beat the buzzer – but by then it was too late and Tigers had chalked up their sixth win of the campaign.
Leopards: C Latham-Henry 23, M Henry 18, L Irish 18, L Greenan 6, C Michaelides 5, I De Ferrari 4, L Volskis, R Baker, F Rinaldi (DNP), J Wright (DNP).