2004 Leopards II – The first game
Hosts Hosana too strong for the new Big Cats
Hosana Sporting Club 86 (18, 49, 68)
Essex & Herts Leopards 78 (21, 41, 59)
THERE was no fairytale start for the new-look Leopards on Wednesday night as lost to star-studded hosts Hosana Sporting Club in the Hosana Summer League.
With the Big Cats fielding a mixture of Ware Rebels and former Sutton Pumas players together with several guests, they struggled with turnovers against an HSC side who included England’s most capped player, Ronnie Baker, Ajou Deng, brother of NBA-bound Loul, and EBL star Steven Gayle.
Danny Scott and Matt Eames from last year’s Ware squad both impressed with eight and four points, though Scott faced a considerable challenge at the defensive end with the 7” 1’ Deng proving a handful throughout the game.
With Mark Quashie, who has played for both the original Leopards and Rebels unavailable, former Leopard Brian Moore became the first player to play for both versions of the Leopards when he came on in the second half.
For all that, the run-out still proved to be a useful one for Jon Burnell’s side, who started slowly as they went behind 9-3 to lead 21-18 at the first break.
Markus Knight led the Leopards’ scoring in the first period with nine, and we went on to top score for the new side with 30 points – and took the accolade of being the first player to score for the new club. As Leopards struggled to contain the giant Deng, they fell behind 49-41 at half-time, and despite eight points from Knight and as many from Hitchin-based USA college player James Warwick, they trailed 68-59 at the final break.
The impressive Warwick fouled with five minutes remaining, but a three point play from Knight and Moore’s first points for the new club saw Leopards reduce the arrears to 74-69 with four minutes remaining.
However that was as close as they came, with the hosts closing out the game from the foul line.Leopards can still qualify for July’s semi-final, and are due to face Hackney in their final group game on Wednesday (June 30).
Leopards: M Knight (30), J Warwick (14), M Addy (10), A Bayliss (9), D Scott (8), M Eames (4), B Moore (2), D Adams (1)