On this day – March 2

2013 – Comeback kids win Hemel thriller

Leopards staged the biggest comeback in their 18 year history to win an overtime thriller at Hemel Storm 89-83, on Saturday night. Robert Youngblood’s side trailed by 28 midway through the third period but restricted the home side to seven points in the final 12 minutes to tie the game, and Simon Cummings even had a chance to win the game in regulation before his shot rimmed out.

Leopards were without captain Taner Adu and Rowell Graham due to injury, and a listless performance in the first two-thirds of regulation time had looked likely to end in a first defeat against the Hemel franchise (which Leopards had beaten 14 straight times in their various guises) before they dug deep to win their tenth league game of the season itunes downloaden via apple.

Cummings led the way for Leopards with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two assists, while American compatriot Greg Hernandez had 19 points and eight boards. Youngblood added 15 despite both him and Hernandez being forced to sit for long spells due to foul trouble, while Tom Martin scored a season-high 13 points after starting in place on the injured Adu.

Williamz Omopre was on fire from behind the three-point line for the hosts as he opened with a pair of treys, and although Cummings put Leopards on the scoreboard, their defence had little answer as Storm raced into a 22-10 lead after seven minutes. Youngblood, who returned to the starting line-up, broke the tear, and five straight Cummings points in the final minute of the period cut the deficit to 26-19 at the first break.

If the first quarter had been poor for the Leopards, the second was little short of a disaster. With Hernandez sitting down on two fouls, they never managed more than four straight points as were outscored 29-13 and Hemel finished the period with a 10-0 run against a Leopards team with only Carl Josey left from the starting line-up.

A score from Martin and a pair of Hernandez baskets kept the margin in the low 20s to open the third period, but a 10-3 run with only a Cummings trey troubling the scorers for Leopards saw the Big Cats trail 69-41 with three minutes left in the third period. Hernandez broke the run from downtown to launch an 10-0 with Dan Dunscombe and Hernandez both hitting twos before Ish Fontaine drained a three to cut the deficit to 70-51 going into the fourth period.

Martin buried a triple to extend that run to 13-0 with the opening score of the fourth quarter, only got Mark Darlow to also score from downtown for the hosts . But that only temporarily halted the Big Cats as five points apiece from Cummings and Martin plus a Lawrence Brown basket saw Leopards reel off 12 straight points before a single Hernandez free-throw made it 73-67 with two and half minutes remaining.

Louis Sayers ended a seven minute drought for the home side with a trey, only for Hernandez to hit back-to-back shots to make it a five point game heading into the final minute. Youngblood came back into the game with 40 seconds remaining after sitting down for 11 minutes due to foul trouble but it was Cummings who stepped up, hitting a two before draining a three with 19 seconds remaining to tie the game.

The Leopards’ defence tied the hosts again with Cummings coming up with the ball and six seconds on the clock, but as he drove to the basket, his shot wouldn’t drop.

Overtime proved to be a tight affair, with the teams exchanging baskets with Leopards opening the scoring through Hernandez and never trailing.

Hemel’s Chute could only hit one of two foul shot heading into the final minute, and Carl Josey put the Leopards with a drive to the basket.Youngblood then came up with a steal and fed Cummings who was sent to the line for a pair, before the Leopards player-coach wrapped thins up on the line.

Storm coach Dave Titmus was predictably gracious in defeat: “With all respect to them for the way they fought back, it really was a case of us losing it rather than Leopards winning it. We played some terrific basketball to get ourselves into such a strong position to win but ] Hernandez and Cummings took over in the final three minutes of regulation and the momentum carried them into overtime. Definitely that was one that got away.”

Leopards: S Cummings (22), G Hernandez (19), R Youngblood (15), T Martin (13), C Josey (6), D Dunscombe (6), I Fontaine (6), L Brown (2), D Camile, J Davis.

2019 – Big win for Big Cats

Leopards collected their 12th league victory of the season and – crucially – sealed the head-to-head decider with a 93-91 victory at Leicester Warriors, on Saturday. Thomas Baker’s side led for most of the game at Braunstone Leisure Centre, but had to withstand a late fight-back from the hosts to record a victory that realistically means they need one win from their final four games to seal a place in the post-season.
It was Leopards’ big men who did most of the damage as Asante Sandiford led the visitors with 28 points and five rebounds, while Lee Hodges added a 19 point, ten rebound double-double. Chuck Duru came off the bench to add 18 points while captain Sam Newman finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Big Cats started slowly but five straight Sandiford points gave them their first lead of the game, and Sandiford launched a 9-0 run capped by a lay-up from Daniel Wagnener to put them 16-9 up after six minutes play. Duru hit his second trey of the game before completing an and-one, and the British forward hit a jump shot as Leopards led 26-18 at the first break.
Hodges opened the second period scoring to make it a double-diget lead, and with Rory Winter converting three straight free-throws as Leopards remained comfortably ahead without pulling away. Six straight Hodges points kept Leopards ahead as they shared 50 points in the quarter, and Duru again scored from the Land of Plenty as the visitors went into the locker room with a 51-43 lead,
The hosts opened the second half strongly with six straight points before Newman broke the run. Warrriors failed to get any closer than two points in the third period, and a Newman triple followed by a driving Sandiford lay-up sent the Big Cats into the final break with a 75-68 lead.
Duru drove to the basket for the opening score of the fourth period, and a Hodges lay-up followed by a three-point play saw his side lead 88-81 at the five minute mark. Back-to-back scores from Findlay Wood kept Leopards’ at seven with three minutes remaining but after scoreless 90 seconds Raheem Thomas-Edwards cut the advantage to five. A pair of free-throws from Chingombe followed by a Taylor Johnson lay-up saw that lead sliced to a single point going into the final 30 seconds.
Newman missed a three-pointer but grabbed the rebound before being fouled. But with the hosts not in the penalty they were forced to foul Hodges who sunk the first at foul line and although his second bobbled out, Leopards had done enough to take the win.
Johnson led Warriors with 25 points, six rebounds and as many assists, while Thomas-Edwards finished with a 23 point, 14 rebound double-double in a 40 minute performance.

2014 – Magic fourth period defeats Manchester

A dominant fourth quarter paved the way for Leopards’ sixth win in seven games as Manchester Magic were hammered in front of a large crowd at Brentwood. Howard Crawford led the Big Cats’ scoring for the sixth straight game with 24 points, adding seven rebounds, while Andre Lockhart added 15 and Kris Clark 14. Shaun Durant finished with an 11 point, 11 rebound double-double as nine Leopards got on the scoresheet.

In common with the game at Reading, Leopards started well the  with Durant and Crawford each scoring twice before a Clark three-point play off Lockhart’s assist saw them again led 11-2 after five minutes of action. A second Crawford dunk of the game saw the lead grow to 14-2 before Jack Minister sparked a mini Magic run, but a trey from Carl Josey sent Leopards into the first break with an 18-10 lead.

A pair of Durant scores either side of a 5-0 Magic run kept Leopards ahead 22-15 after three second period minutes before a  Tom Ward trey saw Magic move within three points. But Lockhart scored seven points to keep the Big Cats ahead, and five points from Lawrence Brown helped Leopards go into the locker room with a 36-28 half-time lead.

The third period proved to be Crawford time as he scored 12 of the Big Cats’ 15 points. The American big man scored either side of a Lockhart basket as Leopards opened a 40-30 lead after two minutes of action. But a 7-0 run from the visitors, with Ward hitting a trey, saw Magic make it a four point game before Crawford broke the run with a pair at the foul line. Franc Garcia Garrido cut the lead to three points in the final minute of the period before Crawford split a pair at the charity stripe to send Leopards into the final quarter 51-37 ahead,

Clark started the tear with a trey off Lockhart’s assist before Josey stole the ball from Garcia Garrido and passed for Lockhart to set Clark up for a dunk. Clark hit back-to-back baskets off steals, and Crawford then stole the ball from Nathan Schall before dunking it home, and repeated the trick after forcing Ward into a turnover to complete the 14-0 run which saw the visitors held scoreless for nearly five minutes.

With  69-52 lead, Leopards were mindful of points difference in the head-to-head decider, but the lead never dipped into single figures again.

The Big Cats wrapped the game with a 10-1 run started by Van Beest and wrapped up by Ioan Nickson as Youngblood ran his bench down the stretch to wrap up the Big Cats 14th league win of the campaign.

Schall led the way for Magic with a 16 point, 15 rebound double-double, but Ward was the only other Manchester player in double figures with 11 points as Garcia Garrido was held to seven points of two-from-nine shooting.

London Leopards 92 Edinburgh Rocks 106
BBL Championship @ The Brentwood Centre

Leopards 71 Manchester Giants 70
Budweiser League @ London Arena

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