On this day – March 14

2010 – Victory for the Comeback Kids

Leopards 86 (18,40,66) Coventry Crusaders 78 (27,50,62)

LEOPARDS took a massive step towards Division One safety with a come-from-behind victory against Coventry Crusaders on Sunday.

The Big Cats recovered from a 16 point deficit to reel off 25 straight points to take a key victory in the relegation battle.

The home side trailed 36-22 at the midway stage of the second quarter, and were still down by 15 halfway through the third period before a Leigh Greenan basket sparked an incredible comeback. Six different players scored for the Big Cats as Crusaders were held scoreless for nine and half minutes, and the home team never looked back.

Latham-Henry led the Leopards’ scoring with 23 points, with Greenan adding 18 points and nine rebounds, and Marlan Henry finishing with 15 points and eight assists. Crusader’s Dave Edden led all scorers 27 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Smith also had seven boards to his 18 points.

Smith’s fellow American went agonisingly close to a triple-double, finishing with 11 assists, ten rebounds and nine points, adding three steals in a game-high 38 and half minutes of action. Sam Richardson opened the scoring, but a tight first five minutes saw the teams exchange baskets, with a Richardson basket off Lukas Volskis’ giving the hosts a 12-11 lead after four minutes.

However, that was the last time Leopards would score for nearly five minutes, and Crusaders reeled off 14 straight points, capped by a pair treys from Barking Abbey graduate Ryann Samuel to give Coventry a 25-12 lead.

Volskis broke the run with a three-pointer off Latham-Henry’s assist, and although Chris Michaelides also scored from downtown, Leopards reached the first break trailing 27-18.

It didn’t get any better for the hosts, as Olinger scored from the Land of Plenty to open the second period, and an Edden trey gave them the biggest lead of the game at the 5:05 mark.

It was Latham-Henry who, almost single-handedly, kept Leopards in the game as he scored 13 of their 22 second period points before Henry beat the buzzer with a huge three to cut Coventry’s lead to 50-40 going into the locker room.

There was little sign of the stunning recovery in the first three minutes of the second half as it took another Henry trey to keep Leopards within ten, and a Simon Payne three-pointer put Coventry 62-47 ahead with six minutes of the third period remaining.

And then it started.

A pair of Greenan baskets started the tear, and the seven footer went on to score ten in the run, including the basket which put Leopards ahead with 93 seconds of the quarter remaining. Volskis sunk a trey, with Mike Holbrook and Henry also getting on the scoresheet as Leopards scored the final 19 points of the quarter to go into the final break 66-62 ahead.

Henry opened the fourth period scoring before four points from Michaelides made it 72-62 before Edden finally ended the drought at nine minutes and 26 seconds.

Payne cut into Leopards’ lead, and their advantage hovered around the five mark until Latham-Henry buried a trey with 3:10 on the clock. Leopards knew they had to win by ten to clinch the head-to-head decider, and two Greenan free-throw put their lead back into double figures with 93 seconds remaining.

With Crusaders forced to foul to stop the clock, the Big Cats converted four of their six shots from the charity stripe down the stretch, and although Olinger’s basket with 18 seconds remaining gave his team the decider, it was the home fans who went home happy as Leopards snapped a four game losing streak.

Leopards: C Latham-Henry 23, L Greenan 18, M Henry 15, S Richardson 11, C Michaelides 9, L Volskis 8, M Holbrook 2, R Baker (DNP)

Essex Leopards 81 Birmingham Bullets 86
BBL Championship @ The Brentwood Centre

Greater London Leopards 82 Thames Valley Tigers 91
BBL Championship @ London Arena

Leopards 93 Manchester Giants 90
Budweiser League @ London Arena

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