2008 – Leopards make it nine in a row
Leopards 103 (25,56,75) Taunton Tigers 90 (33,43,62)
Leopards overcame foul trouble to maintain their winning start to the season and open the EBL Division One season with a victory.
Carl Latham-Henry, Robert Gilchrist and Gareth Laws all fouled out during the game, and with Hrvoje Pervan and Leigh Greenan finishing on four fouls, at one stage it appeared that the Big Cats may finish the game with only four men.
Pervan again led the Leopards with 38 points, the second highest individual score in the club’s history, while Latham-Henry and Gilchrist each scored 16 and Lukas Volskis added 13. Taunton were led by 23 Paul Yabsley points, with Kevin Anderson adding 16.
Most of the damage for the home side was done during the second period as Tigers were outscored 31-10 – indeed it was the only quarter that the Leopards actually won, with both second half periods finishing level.
Gilchrist – one of three teenagers starting for the home side – opened the scoring, but Tigers quickly took control and with Joe Andrews and Tim Clifford draining from downtown they opened a 16-8 lead at the midway stage in the period. Five Pervan points saw Leopards move back to within two, but Yabsley also scored five quick points as Taunton opened a game-high 29-18 lead.
Scores from Gilchrist, Pervan and Latham-Henry narrowed the gap, but a pair of Yabsley free-throws meant that Tigers went into the first break with a 33-25 lead. Gareth Laws opened the second period scoring with a pair of free-throws, which launched a 15-3 run. Gilchrist added four points in the tear before Volskis capped it with a trey and a lay-up to give Leopards a lead they would never lose again – despite Latham-Henry having been forced to sit down after just two second period minutes, having collected his fourth foul.
Yabsley replied with a pair of free-throws, but another three from Volskis launched a 7-0 run to put Leopards 47-38 ahead with three minutes of the half remaining. Volskis hit his third trey of the period to extend the home side’s lead, and with Gilchrist scoring Leopards’ final four points of the half, they went into the locker room with a 56-43 lead.
A Greenan put-back opened the second half scoring, and with Pervan draining a three, Leopards opened an 18 point lead. However, any thoughts that the hosts would run away with the victory were quickly dispelled as Taunton hit seven straight points.
Gilchrist broke the run, and back-to-back Latham-Henry scores kept Leopards lead around the 15 mark. Latham-Henry scored the final six points of the period for Leopards, but it was a Lee Rivello three with closed the period for Taunton, with the home side going into the final break with a 75-62 lead.
Gilchrist became the first Leopard to foul out after collecting two quick fouls in the opening minute of the final stanza, but despite Latham-Henry joining him on the bench three minutes later, the Big Cats still led 86-67 following a Sam Salter three and another Pervan basket.
However the visitors had one last run in them, and a barrage of threes in an 11-0 run saw the advantage trimmed to 86-78 going into the final four minutes. Pervan broke the run from the charity stripe and Greenan took his tally to eight points for the night to put Leopards back up by 12.
Laws became the third player to foul out as Yabsley converted an and-one, and a single free-throw from Graham Jones saw Tigers cut the lead to ten. That proved to be as close as the visitors came, with Joe Andrews fouling out, leaving Pervan to wrap things up from the line.
Despite the win, Leopards coach Jon Burnell was still far from satisfied: “We’re still giving up too many points and having to rely on our shooting to get us back into it.”
Leopards: H Pervan 38, R Gilchrist 16, C Latham-Henry 16, L Volskis 13, G Laws 8, L Greenan 8, S Salter 4, K Wood, B Wilkinson.
2014 – CUP WOE FOR BIG CATS
Dave Ajumobi hit a trey to open the scoring, and a three point play from Albert Margai kept the Big Cats in front, 8-5 after three minutes of action. A Julius Visockas three gave the visitors their first lead of the game at 12-11 with four minutes, but a pair of Lawrence Brown free-throws restored the hosts lead, and the Big Cats edged a tight first period 17-14 as Lucas Winegarner hit a hook shot with the final score of the period .
Brown continued to lead the hosts’ offence, hitting back-to-back shots, and the teams were tied at 27midway through the second period but a three-pointer from Will Ashby launched a 9-0 run, and the Big Cats went into the locker room with a 38-32 half-time lead .
Byron Richards made it an eight-point game with the opening score of the second half but that was as good as it got for the hosts as Visockas launched the run that saw the London side pour in 16 unanswered points .
Margai eventually broke the run with a pair of foul shots, and he narrowed the gap to two with at the charity stripe following a technical foul on Paulius Rašamavičius before driving to the basket for a layup .
Aušridas Petraitis and Paulius Adomaitis put the visitors back in charge before Margai cut the deficit to 52-46 at the final break .
Ashby scored the Land of Plenty to halve that lead at the start of the fourth period and Winegarner made it a two point game with 8:30 on the clock .
That proved to be as good as it got for Robert Youngblood’s team as Visockas hit another triple and the same player made it a ten point game at the foul line with just under two minutes remaining .
Ashby took his personal tally to 12 points with another score from downtown to give the hosts some hope, but the home side never came closer than six points as the Lithuanians wrapped up the win at the foul line.
Brown led Leopards with 17 points while Margai added ten.