On this day – Sept 20

2015 – Leopards avoid banana skin

Essex Leopards v London Lituanica 18 Sep 2015; Ladi Brown;Levett Leopards narrowly avoided what would have been the biggest upset in their history as they blew a big lead before eventually beating London Thunder Lewisham 87-86, on Sunday Scores from Justin Hitchman and Tosin Oyelese clinched the win and a trip to Barking & Dagenham Thunder in the National Cup second round but the manner of the collapse from a 22 point lead will give coach Steve Ogunjimi cause for concern.

Brown, who led Leopards with 18 points, scored the Big Cats’ first nine points, and a Hitchman put-back saw their lead extended to 12 points and although Will Ashby drained a trey the introduction of the bench players saw the lead trimmed back to 28-19 at the first break 28-19.

Scores from Ashby and Oyelese increased that lead at the start of the second period, and with 3:22 on the clock a pair of Ashby free-throws put the Big Cats up by 21 points and the lead peaked at 22 following a Brown free-throw. Again, though, the introduction of the bench saw Pride cut their deficit to 54-39 at half-time.tosin-oyelese

With momentum against them, Leopards saw the lead whittled down to single figures with two minutes of the third period remaining before a pair of Ashby free-throws made it 67-56 with 1:15 on the clock.

Martin went coast-to-coast to keep Leopards 11 ahead but a calamitous end to the third period saw Leopards turn the ball over twice and allow the home side to score twice in the final six seconds to make it 63-69 going into the final quarter.

Things didn’t get any better in the fourth period with Pride grabbing their first lead with six minutes remaining, and it took a trey from Margai and the Tom Martin score on the break to keep Leopards in the game.

Scores from Hitchman and Oyelese kept the Big Cats in touch but the fact that pride were called for only one defensive foul in their comeback fourth period while Leopards were called for eight is telling . And the game looked over when Sedgeway-Lodge hit a trey to put his side up by one with 24.7 seconds remaining. A time-out from Ogunjimi saw Leopards drive into the paint and it was Oyelese who scored what proved to be the winning basket with 14.1 seconds remaining and the Big Cats defended well to run the clock down and take the win.

2008 – Leopards show no charity

Christians in Action 64 Leopards 82

Leopards continued their pre-season campaign with an 82-64 win against Christians In Sport in a charity game in Mitcham on Saturday evening.

Leopards chose to rest Kevin Griffin and Lee McCarthy, and it was the club’s younger players who won the game with a stunning final quarter.

Fielding only their six Barking Abbey Academy players, the Big Cats blew the hosts away with a 35-14 fourth period – with Wood single-handedly outscoring the CIA in the period with 17 points.

Wood led all scorers with 24 points, while Gilchrist added 17 and Volskis 12. Sam Salter completed the players in double figures with 11 points, despite sitting out the final period.

After a delayed start, Leopards edged a tight first period 11-10, but went into the half-time break with a comfortable 36-26 lead.

A poor third period saw them outscored 24-11, and a buzzer-beating three from home captain Brown sent his side into the final break leading 50-47, but that was as good as it got for the CIA as a barrage of three-pointers won the game for Leopards.

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