Leopards off the mark in Suffolk
Leopards collected their first victory at Division Two level with a dominant 87-58 victory at Ipswich, on Saturday. The Big Cats now need Ipswich to produce an upset by winning at Nottingham on Saturday if they are to progress to the Patrons Cup semi-final.
With American guard AJ Roberts still waiting for clearance, Dougie Bennett captained the Big Cats at Ipswich, and he opened the scoring with a triple in what proved to be a tight first quarter. The Big Cats opened a 10-4 lead early in the game, but the Suffolk side fought back to lead 19-16 at the first break.
Bennett, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit back-to-back three pointers to open the second period and Leopards started the quarter with a 12-1 run, and they never looked back. The visitors led 38-26 at half-time, but their hope were hit two minutes into the second half when point guard Kevin Moyo – who had picked up a first half unsportsmanlike foul while being screened byIpswich’s centre – was ejected after he was given a technical foul for flopping.
While Leopards initially struggled following Moyo’s ejection, they closed out the quarter with a 19-10 run to lead 60-39 going into the final break. The Big Cats never looked in danger in the fourth quarter, and youngster Jordan George went on a scoring spree with three straight treys to wrap things up.
Baker happy with Ipswich win
Thomas Baker was a happy man after his Levett Essex Leopards team picked up their first win of the season as a dominant performance saw them win 87-58 at Ipswich, on Saturday.
“It was a much improved performance from the guys on Saturday against a very different looking Ipswich team” he said. “I am pleased the players handled what could have been a tricky away fixture in such a professional manner.
“For the most part we played exactly the way we needed to and we got the rewards for it, finding our shots and attacking the basket at will as well as having some impressive defensive play phases also.”
With his side due to host Anglia Ruskin University at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday afternoon, Baker is still looking improvements: “We have identified areas where we still need to improve however I was pleased with the reaction from the players after last week’s result against Nottingham.
“One more cup fixture against Anglia Ruskin next weekend and then we are into the league with the game against Westminster. We will continue to improve throughout the season but Saturday’s result showed that we are starting to come together nicely.”
Leopards are now hoping that Ipswich pull of an upset win at Nottingham on Saturday, which would send them through to the Patrons Cup semi-finals, but now turn their attention to the National Cup and the visit of Anglia which tips off at 4pm.
2007 – Flyers ground Leopards
Bristol Academy Flyers 96 (22,46,65) Leopards 74 (22,37,61)
A poor end to each half cost Leopards the chance of winning the Kent tournament on Sunday, although the final score bore little relation to the pattern of the game.
American trialists Quincey Shannon led the Big Cats’ scoring with 26 points, although his shot selection was questionable and defence almost non existent, while Gareth Laws chipped in with 15. With coach Jon Burnell unavailable senior players Sam Salter and Laws ran the team, which limited their combined court time to 38 minutes on a day where they would have been expected to play for around 65 minutes.
An even first period saw the teams exchange baskets for long stretches. Centre Leigh Greenan picked up two fouls in the first three minutes to leave Leopards with a small line-up, but the teams went into the first break locked on 22 points.
Leopards led 35-34 with three second period minutes remaining, but the West Country side – who were promoted to Division One last season – finished strongly with an 12-2 run to take a nine point lead into the locker room.
The start of the second half saw Bristol extend their lead to ten, but Leopards fought back well, and a Salter jump shot cut the deficit to 57-54 with 3:22 remaining in the this period, and a trey from Shannon ensured that Flyers’ lead was only four going into the final stanza, Shannon halved that lead with the first play of the fourth quarter, but that proved to be as good as it got for the Leopards.
Bristol, led by a 32 point night for American guard Ryan Williams, took the lead back out to ten midway through the period, and they held that advantage until the final three minute when, with all the senior Leopards’ players sitting on the bench they wrapped up the win with a 15-2 run.