2015 – DEPLETED LEOPARDS COME UP SHORT
“We played really well, with the guys there showing great attitude, bags of attitude and lots of endeavour . It’s hard to win with a 29-19 foul count and some key decisions going against you at crucial times.”
Leopards needed to win and hope that other results went their way, but ultimately Thunder captain Tom Ward proved to be the difference between the teams, hitting four of his seven three point attempts on his way to a 31 point evening .
“I think if he’d stood at half-court and chucked it over his head, it would have gone in” said Malpass. “I doubt he’ll have many nights like that.”
Leopards opened the scoring through Hitchman and led for most of the first period before Dougie Bennett sent them into the second period tied at 21 .
A Jamie Hayes and-one put his side back ahead at the beginning of the second quarter and pair of treys from Bennett kept them comfortable ahead. A score from Tosin Oyelese put the visitors up by 12 before Thunder finished the half strongly to cut Leopards’ lead 43-36 going into the locker room .
Courtney Van Beest made it a nine point game with the opening score of the third period and another Bennett trey kept them ahead until late in the third period when Hitchman was called for a soft offensive foul and a subsequent technical foul on the bench saw the momentum swing in favour of the hosts .
Captain Albert Margai sent his side into the final break with a 66-62 lead, but with Hitchman fouling out two minutes from time, the visitors’ lack of depth showed in the fourth period as they were outscored 30-19 to give Thunder the win .
Hitchman finished with 15 points and six rebounds, with Van Beest, Bennett and Evan Walshe all adding 14 points. Oyelese (14) and Margai (9) completed a balanced scoring effort for Leopards . Oyelese and Van Beest led their team in rebounding with eight boards each.