2013 – Big Cats progress in Cup
A dominant second half performance saw Leopards through to the third round of the National Cup with a 72-45 victory against Barking Abbey at Southend on Sunday. The young visitors – who included Joe Lockwood and Josh Steel from Leopards 2012 treble winning side – made the Big Cats fight all the way in the first half before a defensive lockdown in the third period saw them limited to four points and allowed Robert Youngblood’s team to pull away for victory..
Leopards will now face Hemel Storm or Medway Park Crusaders in the last 16 at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday October 27. Howard Crawford led the way for the Big Cats, finishing a rebound short of a double-double with 22 points, while the rest of the scoring was shared out with all ten of the players getting on the scoresheet. Captain Carl Josey added six rebounds to his nine points, while Ish Fontaine and Tom Martin each hit eight points.
With summer signing Siman Stewart still out with an injury and American point guard Kris Clark unavailable due to National Cup qualification rules, veteran point guard Ronnie Baker started in his place and finished with eight assists and seven boards to go with his three points. Ultimately, Leopards domination on the board proved the difference between the teams as they out-rebounded the visitors 48-29, with that disparity leading to 19 more shots.
Lockwood broke the dearly deadlock, but five Brown points in a 9-2 run put the home side ahead, and when Sam Iwueke hit a three to make it 12-7 with our minutes gone, Leopards appeared to be in control. However the visitors showed they have some of the best young players in the country and three pointers from Steele and Akwasi Yeboha helped them put together a 12-0 run to lead 19-12 with 2:28 on the clock. A Tom Martin and-one broke the run before Crawford hit back-to-back shots to send the teams into the first break tied on 19.
Crawford hit the first nine Leopards’ points of the second period as his side took a lead they would never lose, and five straight points from Fontaine sent them into the locker room with a 43-35 lead. Josey drained a trey to open the second half, and Smith cut the arrears to 48-39 with 7:38 on the clock. But that proved to be the last time Abbey would score in the period, although they didn’t help their cause with six straight missed at the foul line.
Iwueke launched the 12-0 run to close out the period, and with Baker and Crawford hitting threes, the win was effectively wrapped up by the final break as they led 60-39. The fourth period saw coach Youngblood run his bench, and it proved to be a low scoring affair with Abbey being held scoreless for the final four minutes before Martin wrapped up the victory and a place in the next round.
Lockwood, Steele and Yeboha all scored ten points for Abbey with the former matching Crawford’s nine rebounds in a game-high 33 minutes of action.
Leopards: H Crawford (22), C Josey (9), T Martin (8), I Fontaine (8), S Iwueke (7), L Brown (7), I Nickson (4), R Baker (3), C Van Beest (2), M Isobor (2), R Youngblood (DNP)
2018 – Comeback not enough for Leopards
A strong second half could not prevent Leopards starting life at the University of Essex with an 84-77 loss against Barking Abbey Crusaders, on Saturday. The Big Cats erased a 20-point deficit with a strong end to the third period and a good start to the fourth, but they ultimately came up short down the stretch.
In front of a big crowd, captain Sam Newman led the home side with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Chuck Duru added 15 points on his competitive debut. Luke Mascall-Wright continued his good early-season form with 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists, with Lee Hodges adding 11 rebounds to his 12 point.
The Big Cats won the rebound battle 46-38 but saw their up-tempo game slowed down and they were outshot from all distances by the visitors who had a sparkling performance from Ade Adebayo as the youngster hit 35 points in as many minutes including four of his five three-point attempts.
Duru became the first Leopards to score at their new venue when he split a pair of free-throws, but the Big Cats struggled to get points on the board in the opening minutes and despite treys from Newman, Andre Lavinier and Duru, they went into the first break trailing 19-16.
The second period proved to be the killer for the home side as Barking went on an 8-0 run outscoring them by ten points, and a pair of Newman free-throws could only reduce the arrears to 45-31 going into the locker room at half-time.
A trey from Feeney saw Barking’s lead balloon to 20 at the midway stage of the third period before Thomas Baker’s team finally clicked into gear as back-to-back treys from Tom Child in a 15-5 run to end the period and cut the deficit to 61-51 at the final break.
Newman scored from the Land of Plenty to open the fourth period and four Mascall-Wright points in an 8-0 run from the hosts saw them cut the visitors’ lead to 63-62 lead with seven minutes of the game remaining.
Adebayo and Duru exchanged treys but the young English guard did all of the damage down the stretch as he scored 21 straight points for Abbey to seal their win.