2011 – Semi-final heartbreak for Leopards
Reading Rockets 62 (6,25,37,54) London Leopards 60 (11,21,41,54)
LEOPARDS’ National Trophy dreams ended at the last four stage as went down in overtime, on Saturday.
Thirty-two turnovers to the home team’s 13 proved to be the difference as the Big Cats foul victim to a series of bizarre calls, including at least eight three-second calls and some obscure travelling violations.
After a poor game against the Rockets at Brentwood last week, Ousman Krubally was back to his best, finishing with 23 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes. On a night when both sides would have struggled to hit the ocean, the rest of the Leopards’ scoring was shared around with Keelan Cairns, Simeon Esprit, Josh Sharlow, Josh Johnson and Leigh Greenan all finishing with seven points each. Cairns and Greenan finished with 12 and 11 boards respectively as Leopards out-rebounded the home side 48-23, while in the absence of the injured Marlan Henry, Sharlow played all 45 minutes.
Niko Scott led the home side with 21 points and six rebounds, with Ryan Lohfink adding 13 points and five boards, while Matt Guymon and Will Hall finished with 11 points apiece.
Scott opened the scoring, but an early indication of the low scoring that was to follow, saw the Big Cats lead 3-2 at the five minute mark as Greenan hit a free-throw and Cairns drained a long jump shot. However that launched an 11-2 run that put the visitors 11-4 going into the final minute of the period. Krubally finished the run, and with Robbie Parker hitting a basket for Reading, it was the Leopards who went into the first break 11-6 ahead.
Krubally drained a trey to open the second period, but Borja Pintor-Henningsen picked up three fouls in less than a minute before Krubally made it a nine point game with 55 seconds gone.
That proved to be the last time the Big Cats scored for over six minutes as Reading poured in eight straight points, including three from four foul shooting after Leopards coach Mark Clark had picked up a technical.
Sharlow eventually ended the run, but at the visitors wracked up the fouls, Reading regained the lead on a Lohfink basket going into the final two minutes of the half and Scott drained a three-pointer as the home side went into the locker room 25-21 ahead.
With Krubally and Greenan being called for three-second violations in the space of 20 seconds, Matt Guymon made it a seven point game with another shot from downtown.
Six straight Krubally points dragged the visitors back into the game before Johnson converted an and-one to put Leopards 32-30 at the midway stage of the third period. Lukas Aleksandravicius put Reading back in front with a trey, but it was Leopards who went into the fourth period 41-37 ahead as Johnson drained a shot from downtown.
Lohfink opened the fourth quarter with a jump shot, but the visitors led throughout the period without ever pulling away. Lohfink made it a one point game at the six minute mark, but Cairns replied with a trey and Leopards were still 54-51 ahead with 80 seconds remaining before Lohfink hit a three with 1:06 on the clock to send the game into overtime.
Krubally scored the first point of the extra period after 53 seconds, but that was to be the last time the visitors led as Will Hall put Reading in the lead with 3:46 remaining. Guymon hit another big three, but four from four foul shots by Krubally tied the game at 59 with a minute remaining.
The winning shot came from Scott and he converted an and-one with nine seconds remaining, but there was still drama as Scott was called for an intentional foul on Johnson with five seconds left. The young guard converted one of the two foul shots, but Leopards failed to get off a decent shot as Reading progressed to the title game.
Leopards: O Krubally (23), K Cairns (7), S Esprit (7), J Sharlow (7), J Johnson (7), L Greenan (7), B Pintor-Henningsen (2), D Norton, S Bublys, Z Wells, S Dunscombe (DNP).
2013 – Warriors beaten at Brentwood
2004 – Weakened Big Cats beaten in friendly
RAF Mildenhall Marauders 70 (16,40,53) Essex & Herts Leopards 65 (11,28,52)
The Big Cats were without Brandon Kephart and Roger Lloyd, and produced a disjointed display during the opening two periods, and trailed by 12 at half-time. They were not helped by some liberal interpretations of the rules by the home officials, and with no shot clock, the final minutes of the game bordered on farce at times.
The home side, who had defeated Solent Stars by three points the previous week, relied heavily on their three point shooting, draining seven shots from the Land of Plenty in the first half alone. With Steve Ogunjimi (pictured) starting in place of Kephart, who was back in the United States at a funeral, and Mark Quashie returning to the starting line-up, Leopards offence never really got going during the first 20 minutes.Troy Selvey led the visitors’ scoring with eight, while Laurent Irish and Rodney Alexander each scored six, but Leopards went into the locker room trailing 40-28.
Having been outscored in both of the opening quarters, Leopards stepped up the intensity in the third period, with seven different players getting on the scoresheet. Brian Moore led the visitors’ scoring with a pair of treys as Leopards scored eight unanswered points, and a Mark Quashie jump-shot put the Big Cats level at 50-50 with 1:34 of the third period remaining. The hosts replied with their only three of the period, but a Selvey shot on the buzzer saw Leopards reach the final break trailing by only a point.
Mildenhall opened a scrappy final period with a 6-0 run, and although Moore and Ogunjimi both hit three-pointers, the home side successfully ran the clock to wrap up the game.
Leopards: T Selvey 15, B Moore 12, L Irish 12, S Ogunjimi 10, R Alexander 8, M Quashie 5, M Eames 3.