On the day – Sept 16

2016 – Heart-breaker for Leopards

Essex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; Mike Martin;Leopards were made to pay for foul shooting as they went down 69-68 against Hemel Storm, on Friday evening. Steve Ogunjimi’s side converted just ten of their 24 visits to the free-throw line, and despite having 14 more field goal attempts and forcing nine more turnovers than Storm, a Leon Henry buzzer-beating three consigned them to defeat.

David Ajumobi appeared to have made the perfect return to the Leopards when he drove to the basket and scored with 3.2 seconds remaining to put his side 68-66 ahead, only to see the visitors take the National Trophy victory in stunning styleEssex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; David Ajumobi;
Justin Hitchman led the Big Cats with 15 points, with Martin adding 14 and Ladi Brown 13. Martin and Brown both recorded double-doubles with ten rebounds, with Martin adding a team-high four assists.
Martin marked his return to the club after 15 years away by opening the scoring from the free-throws line, and a Brian Nguru trey capped a 6-0 start for the Big Cats. That was as good as it got for the hosts, though as wrapped up the first period with a 7-2 run to take a 17-16 lead.
Essex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; Brian Nguru;Five Ajumobi points helped his side tie the game at 25 midway through the second period, and five Hitchman points followed by a Brown basket sent the Big Cats into the locker room at half-time with a 36-34 lead.
Leopards’ woes at the foul line were particularly prevalent in the third period as they scored just two of their ten attempts and with Jack Burnell – whose father Jon coached the Big Cats for six years – hitting eight straight points midway through the quarter, the visitors went into the final break with a 52-48 lead.
A second trey of the game from Hitchman gave Leopards a 53-52 lead early in the fourth period and Martin tied the game at 61 heading into the final two minutes. A three point play from Martin set up the grandstand finish before Henry – who appeared to travel before the shot – broke the hosts’ hearts.
Henry led the visitors with 13 points and five assists, with Michael Darlow adding 12 points and eight boards.

2018 – Comfortable win for Big Cats

Sam Newman led the way for the Leopards with 26 points as Oaklands Wolves were beaten 115-53, on Sunday.
Lee Hodges added 18 and Luke Mascall-Wright 13 as Thomas Baker’s team collected their first win of the campaign.
Four Mascall-Wright points helped the visitors into an early 6-2 lead, but the college side put a good run together, and five points from Afolabi helped them take a 16-14 advantage with four first period minutes remaining.
That proved to be as good as it got for the home team, though, and a trey from Newman helped Leopards close out the period on a 16-8 run to lead 34-24 at the first break Hodges hit 11 second period points as the Big Cats held the home side to two points in the first eight minutes of the quarter, pouring in 21 of their own before former Wolf Wes Moore wrapped up the half to send Leopards into the locker room with a 59-28 lead.
Leopards’ run was extended to 34-4 as they opened the third period with nine unanswered points, and Dion Easton scored the final four points of the quarter to give the visitors an 85-38 lead at the final break.
Newman hit a trey to open the final stanza, and his pair of free-throws took Leopards to the century mark with 4:27 on the clock, and there was still time for a Tom Child triple as the Big Cats closed out the win.


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