2017 – We’ll be back
|Lancashire Spinners||Essex Leopards|
|Murtagh 20pts||Roberts 19pts|
|Walsh 18pts||Lawson 17pts|
|Rangeley 15pts||Bennett 16pts|
2016 The Comeback Kids strike again
Levett Leopards recorded their second stunning win in the space of three days as they returned from Westminster Warriors with an 81-79 victory. The visitors trailed by three points with 19 seconds remaining but Justin Hitchman battled through what appeared to be at least three fouls to grab a rebound and score to reduce the deficit to one point.
Some suffocating defence saw Leopards steal the ball and after Brown saw a shot blocked, the ball was kicked out to captain Albert Margai who sunk a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds on the clock. The home side called a timeout but after Ladi Brown had initially blocked the first inbound, some more great defence saw Mike Martin’s shot go over the backboard to give Leopards the win..
Hitchman, Margai and Dougie Bennett led a balanced scoring effort from the visitors with 13 points apiece.
After the emotional rollercoaster of Thursday’s win at Reading, the Big Cats started slowly with the hosts scoring the first seven points before Bennett hit a trey to get the visitors on the scoreboard. A pair of Margai foul shots made it a one point game with three first period minutes remaining, but former Leopards Mantis Adomaitis and Martin both scored before Palmer hit a trey to give Warriors a 23-15 lead at the first break.
Leopards were unable to make any inroads into the deficit in the early stages of the second period but five points from Will Ashby in a 7-0 run saw the Big Cats take their first lead of the game, 26-25 with seven minutes on the clock. Adomaitis put his side back up by five before Hitchman launched and capped a 7-0 run to put the visitors up by four, only for the home side to finish the half strongly to lead 42-39 going into the locker room.
The third period proved to be much better for the Big Cats, with a Brown three giving them a 56-55 lead midway through the quarter, and a Margai trey sent them into the final break with a 66-62 lead.
Hitchman put the visitors 72-65 ahead but Steve Ogunjimi’s team suffered a drought in the closing stages as a 9-2 run from the Warriors tied the game at 74 with 90 seconds on the clock. A three from the Dampty gave them the lead with 27 seconds on the clock, only to see the Big Cats again live up to their “Comeback Kids” nickname.
Martin and Adomaitis finished with 18 apiece for the hosts with Dampty adding 14.
2000 – Burks haunts Leopards again
adidas London Leopards 80 (22,33,52)
Johnson 26, Menah-Bonsu 15, Brantley/Martin 12
Milton Keynes Lions 84 (9,37,59)
Burks 30, Windless 20, Bobb 14
Dairylea Dunkers Championship @ Brentwood Leisure Centre
Milton Keynes Lions booked the franchise’s first Championship quarter-final berth in eight seasons and ensured the adidas London Leopards missed out for the first time in their history after an 84-80 victory.
Lions trailed 22-9 after ten minutes but former Leopard Eric Burks (30 points) was in sparkling form and the visitors were in front by the break. Rashod Johnson had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer 5s from the end but he failed.
2005 – Big Cats make the play-offs
Coventry Crusaders 83 (24,44,53)
Essex & Herts Leopards 96 (27,46,72)
Steve Ogunjimi again led the way for Leopards as they powered their way into the EBL Division One play-offs. The English point-guard top scored with 26 points, including seven three-pointers, to seal post-season play for the Big Cats. The turning point for Jon Burnell’s team came in the third period, so often their Achilles heal this season, when they outscored the struggling Midlands outfit 26-9 to take a firm hold on the game.
Despite knowing that they must win to guarantee a play-off spot, the visitors started slowly, with the impressive David Jones scoring five straight points for Crusaders. Although Brian Moore got Leopards off the mark with a three-point effort, the Big Cats continued to struggle as Coventry opened a 12-5 lead. Ogunjimi drained the first of three treys in the opening period, but with the home side hitting a high percentage of their shots, and Jones taking his tally to nine, it took until the final minute of the quarter for Leopards to draw level with a Rodney Alexander three. Craig Robertson restored Coventry’s lead before Ogunjimi put Leopards ahead with a trey, and a last second basket from captain Matt Eames gave the Big Cats a three point lead at the first break.
That lead was extended to seven points with scores from Troy Selvey (pictured) and Alexander, but Coventry narrowed the gap to one with a 9-1 tear. The remaining seven minutes of the period proved to be a nip-tuck affair, with the teams exchanging baskets, and six straight points from Adam Smith gave Crusaders the lead, before Jones extended it to four with another three-pointer. Scores from Mark Quashie and Selvey levelled the score at 40, before threes from Moore and Ogunjimi sent Leopards into the locker room with a 46-44 lead.
The third period belonged to Selvey, as the former Crusaders centre hit 11 points, single handidly outscoring his old team. After Jones had levelled the score with the first play of the half, an “and-one” from Ogunjimi took the lead out to five before a 14-2 run effectively wrapped the game up for Leopards. An Alexander three from a Moore assist was the highlight of the run, and coach Burnell was able to give Ogunjimi his first rest of the game with 2:56 remaining, and the period was rounded off by a Selvey dunk to send Leopards into the final break with a 19 point lead.
Having been the only Leopard not to score during the first three periods, Laurent Irish finally burst into life during the fourth quarter, scoring Leopards first four points and going on to score 10. A pair of Ogunjimi threes, separated by an Irish dunk, took the lead out to 22 with 2:40 remaining, and although the Big Cats relaxed to allow the hosts to put some respectability into the scoreline, Leopards were left to celebrate a play-off spot in their first season.
Leopards: S Ogunjimi 26, T Selvey 21, R Alexander 12, M Quashie 12, L Irish 10, B Moore 8, M Eames 6, R Lloyd 1.
Juniors: Leopards U16 Boys lost at table-toppers East London Royals, 50-82 but have made the play-offs. They will play at Plymouth Raiders in the first round.
2006 – Injury-hit Leopards succumb to Wolves
Worcester Wolves 93 (21,43,73)
Essex & Herts Leopards 74 (20,43,60)
Injury-hit Leopards found the going too tough in the second half as they eventually succumbed to Wolves on Sunday. The Big Cats had already beaten the home side on two occasions this season and were level at half-time, but their mounting injury problems finally caught up with them after the break.
With point guards Steve Ogunjimi and Michal Wrozosek already suffering long-term injuries, Demetrice Williams having walked out on the club and Roger Lloyd serving a one-game ban following his ejection against Kingston, the Big Cats were further hit by injuries to three key players. The most serious saw guard Brian Moore suffer a potential season-ending knee injury early in the second period when he landed awkwardly.
Things only got worse for the Big Cats as Sam Salter, Leopards’ only senior guard damaged his ankle and limped through the final 15 minutes of the game, while James Warwick who took over as point guard when Salter sat down with 90 seconds remaining also hurt his ankle.
Given all of those problems, Leopards produced a good first half performance, and the final winning margin flattered the home side. Troy Selvey led the Big Cats’ scoring with 19, with Salter and Warwick each chipping in 15.
Lituanian forward Valdas Urbonavicius scored the first six points for the home side, but a good balanced scoring effort from the Big Cats saw keep in touch throughout the period, reaching the first break trailing 21-20.
Seven of the Leopards shortened roster got onto the scoresheet, with Warwick leading the way with five points. The loss of Moore just 15 seconds into the second period clearly hurt the Big Cats, though they did not help their own cause as Selvey and Salter both missed pairs of free-throws. Errol Seaman, so often the unsung hero of a successful second season for Jon Burnell’s team, kept them in the game during the quarter, hitting nine points, including a successful “and-one”, and a three-pointer from Salter sent the visitors into the locker room tied at 43.
A lacklustre start to the second half seven straight points from the home team, including a trey from point guard Matt Collins, but scores from Selvey and Warwick brought the Big Cats within two midway through the period. That proved to be as close as the visitors came during the remainder of the game. They were not helped by some inconsistent refereeing which saw Salter collect his fourth foul and Seaman penalised for a rare intentional and-one call, and back-to-back Collins scores sent Wolves into the final break with a comfortable 13 point lead.
Selvey led the Big Cats with eight points in the third period, though four successive misses from the charity stripe did little to keep the hosts in touch. To give the Leopards credit, they refused to lie down in the final period, but tired legs soon caught up with them, and despite six points from Warwick, the game was over by the midway point.
One consolation for Burnell’s team was the news that London United had lost against Sheffield Arrows, sealing sixth place for the Big Cats in the final table.
Leopards: T Selvey 19, S Salter 15, J Warwick 15, E Seaman 13, D Jones 6, M Eames 4, B Moore, T Christie, E Gregory.
One Health Sharks Sheffield 71 Leopards 74
Budweiser League @ Sheffield Arena
London Leopards 80 Milton Keynes Lions 84
BBL Championship @ The Brentwood Centre