2019 – Leopards edged out in Bradford
Leopards are still searching for their first win after going down 86-77 at Bradford Dragons, on Saturday.
Thomas Baker’s side had opportunities to win the game down the stretch, but poor decision making proved key as they lost their third successive league game.
Guard Jerrelle Okoro (right)knows that there his side need to keep making progress: “We have improved a lot over recent weeks” he said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and continue to find ways to improve and work on it till we get the performances we want and the wins we are looking for”
The Big Cats had started well, taking a 19-10 lead after five minutes, and going into the first break with a 28-21 lead.
With Hafeez Abdul (left) scoring well, the visitors built a 40-29 lead before Dragons finished the half strongly to cut the advantage to 48-43 going into the locker room. The teams split 22 points in the opening five minutes of the second half before Dragons took control, outscoring the Leopards 13-6 to lead 67-65 going into the final break and they remained in control to leave the Big Cats winless.
Dave Walsh led Dragons with 20 points and five rebounds, while Ricky Fetske added 15 points and missed a double-double by a rebound. Jermayne Laing added 14 points for Chris Mellor’s side while Rihards Sulcs finished with 13 points, nine assists, six rebounds and five steals.
Abdul led Leopards with 28 points and five rebounds as he became the first player under Baker to play a full 40 minutes. Ray Akpofure finished with a season-high 14 points and five boards, with captain Chuck Duru adding 11 points and eight rebounds. Okoro and Prince Lartey completed the visitors’ scoring with ten points apiece.
2014 – Leopards lose in Kent
Leopards suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday as a disappointing display saw them go down 78-65 at Kent Crusaders.
A victory at Northfleet Technical College would have put the Big Cats in pole position to win Group B of the National Trophy, but the Kent side now top the table with Leopards one of three sides tied in second with 2-1 records. Dave Ajumobi led the way with 16 points, with Nathan Ashley adding 13 and Byron Richards nine. Former Leopards Bradley Wilkinson and Josh Steel came back to haunt their old club with 15 and 14 points respectively, while Duane Orija (who missed out on being part of the Big Cats treble winning season in 2012 due to injury) led all scorers with 17.
Ashley and Brown gave Leopards an early 4-0 lead but that was as good as it got and although Albert Margai drained a trey to put them 7-6 ahead, a four minute drought at the end of the period saw Crusaders lead 20-13 at the first break.
The hosts’ scoring run was extended to 10-0 before Ajumobi broke the six minute drought, but although Ashley coolly drained three shots at the foul line, the home side finished the half strongly to lead 43-28 going into the locker room.
The Big Cats slowly chipped away at the lead, and a pair of Richards’ treys split by a long Ajomobi two took the deficit down to two before Wilkinson made it 59-49 heading into the final period.
Leopards started the final stanza well, playing some tough defence, and Courtney van Beest cut the lead to eight when he drove the length of the court before converting a lay-up and Lukas Winegarner made it a six point game with a lay-up after two minutes. But that proved to be as close as the visitors got as Ajumobi fouled out on his second questionable offensive foul of the afternoon and Van Beest joined him on the bench within a minute allowing the home side to close out the win.
2013 – Agony at the seaside
A poor second half saw Leopards slip to a third straight National Trophy defeat as they down 80-69 at Worthing Thunder on Saturday. Against a side who had yet to win this season and were knocked out of the National Cup by third division opposition the previous week, the Big Cats let a double-digit half-time lead slip as their record fell to 0-3.
Leopards controlled the first half on the south coast, outscoring the hosts 15-10 in the first period and 22-17 in the second to lead 37-27 going into the locker room. A buzzer beater from captain Carl Josey had wrapped up the first half for a Big Cats team who out-rebounded Thunder by an impressive 31-11 in the opening two periods.
However the second half proved to be little short of a disaster for the Big Cats as the home side took the initiative with a 9-0 run and they went into the final break leading 52-49 after outscoring Leopards 25-12.
A bucket from veteran Ronnie Baker gave Leopards the lead again to start the fourth at 53-52 but Thunder would not be denied and another 9-0 burst extended the lead to 72-64 and despite another three from Baker, the hosts held their nerve to register their first win in the Trophy.
Despite fouling out with over a minute to go, Howard Crawford led Leopards with 21 points, with Kris Clark adding ten and Josey nine.