2015 – Leopards hit by Storm
A long night in Hemel saw Levett Essex Leopards suffer their biggest defeat against NBL opposition for over five years as they were hammered 98-67 on Saturday evening The Big Cats never coped with Storm’s outside shooting as they were hit win a barrage of three-point shots.
The Leopards had won all 21 games against the Storm franchise in its various guises, but never looked likely to extend that lead, and their hopes of qualifying for the National Trophy quarter-final now hang by a thread.
Steve Ogunjimi’s team need to win at Worthing on Saturday, and hope Thunder lose against a Reading side who have already qualified AND hope London Lituanica beat Kent Crusaders if they are to reach the last eight.
Their only lead of the game came in the first minute and despite a Brian Nguru trey on the buzzer, the visitors trailed 26-14 at the first break. An inability to hit foul shots didn’t help the Leopards, with the first half summed up as Ladi Brown almost brought the basket down with a massive dunk, but missed the free-throws after being fouled as he shot..
The visitors trailed 49-27 going into the half time break, and although things improved slightly in the second half they went into the final period 71-46 down and were outscored 27-22 in the fourth quarter.
Justin Hitchman continued his good start to his first season as a Leopards with a team-high 19 points, with Will Ashby adding 12. Tom Martin and Nguru came off the bench to add seven apiece as Ogunjimi rested his starters for much of the final 12 minutes, while England under-18 international Evan Walshe made an impressive debut with some good defence.
Rhodes led Hemel with 23 points, while former Leopards’ captain Carl Josey added 21 and Tom Adorian 15.