On this day – Nov 15


A strong fourth period saw Leopards reach the National Cup semi-final with a 79-73 victory at Loughborough Student Riders on Sunday .

It was the Howard Crawford show for the depleted Leopards as the American big man led the way with 37 points and 12 rebounds in a dominant performance .

Incredibly he scored all of Leopards’ 14 points in the first period as the Big Cats came from behind to reach the semi-final of the competition they won in 2006 and 2012 .

The Big Cats were without point guards Kris Clark who was ineligible under National Cup rules and Ronnie Baker who dislocated his shoulder in Friday’s win against Newham .

Sam Iwueke had the best game of his Leopards’ career to finish with 19 points, four boards, two assists and as many steals.

It was Leopards’ defence in the final period that proved to be the difference between the teams as player-coach Robert Youngblood brought himself into the game and the hosts were limited to ten points in the last 11 minutes .

The home side were led by Leicester Riders’ pair Connor Washington who finished with 22 points, nine boards, three steals and three assists, and former Leopards’ junior Levi Noel who had 17 points .

Back-to-back Crawford baskets gave Leopards an early lead, but without a recognised point guard the Big Cats struggled to get the ball up the court and an 11-2 run from the hosts helped them lead 24-14 at the first break .

Iwueke broke Crawford’s run with a pair at the foul line, and a Courtney Van Beest basket made it a one point game midway through the second quarter .

Carl Josey again took the deficit down to a point with two first half minutes remaining but that was as close as the visitors came, with Loughborough taking a 41-37 lead into the locker room as Webster dunked off Noel’s assist .

Crawford – who else – opened the second half scoring, and a pair of Siman Stewart freet-throws cut the deficit to 45-43 with 6:44 on the clock before Iwueke made it a one point game with three third period minutes remaining .

Youngblood brought himself into the game with 2:20 remaining in the period, and was immediately called for an unsportsmanlike foul call on the first defensive possession, and then picked up a technical foul after disputing the decision.

Ish Fontaine was also called for a T after being fouled as he drove down the win, and the free-throws helped the home side take a 63-55 lead into the final break.

Crawford hit the first five Leopards’ points of the final stanza before the visitors stepped up their defence and held the home side scoreless for four minutes

It was a 14-0 run capped by Tom Martin that effectively sealed the win for Leopards. Iwueke tied the game at with 7:39 on the clock, though he missed the and-one opportunity, before a pair of Crawford scores gave the visitors their first lead since the opening period.

Youngblood made it 73-67 with a put-back, and the visitors never trailed again, and Iwueke hit three of four foul shots down the stretch to seal the win.


Essex Leopards v Derby Trailblazers, 15 Nov 2015; Albert Margai;A poor shooting performance ended Leopards’ hopes of Cup glory as Derby pulled away down the stretch to reach the National Cup semi-finals with a 79-69 victory at the Brentwood Centre .

The Big Cats out-rebounded the visitors 49-40 and had eight more shots than Derby, but converted only a third of their field goal attempts and scored just 23 percent of their three point efforts .

Ladi Brown top scored again with 17 points and five rebounds, but it was captain Albert Margai who dominated for his team with a 15 point, ten rebound double-double, adding seven assists . Courtney Van Beest and Justin Hitchman finished with ten points apiece, adding five and three assists apiece.

Brown gave Leopards an early lead with a jump shot and one-from-two foul shooting, and Ashby scored five of his six points to put Leopards 9-5 ahead before Trailblazers closed out the period on an 8-2 – Jamie Hayes hitting the hosts’ only basket – run to lead 13-11 at the first break .

Former England international David Watts hit a triple to put Derby up by five to open the second period, and he then blocked Hayes’ shot before a Brown trey cut the deficit to 18-16 .Essex Leopards v Derby Trailblazers, 15 Nov 2015; Ladi Brown;

Hitchman tied the score after grabbing an offensive rebound, and there was little to choose between the two sides in the second period as Margai hit a trey to cut the visitors’ lead to 33-32 at half-time .

Brown drained a triple to open the second half, but a Sydney Donaldson trey saw Trailblazers take a 48-40 lead at the midway stage of the third quarter .

But Leopards’ offence finally started firing, and Van Beest sparked an 8-0 capped by a pair of Brown baskets to put his side 48-43 up.

Essex Leopards v Derby Trailblazers, 15 Nov 2015; Courtney Van Beest;Unfortunately that proved to be as good as it got as Trailblazers replied with a 10-2 run – Hitchman being only Leopard to trouble the scorers – to lead 53-50 at the final break .

Kane King scored the first five Derby points of the final period with only a Tosin Oyelese basket keeping the home side in touch at 62-68.

Hayes hit a pair at the line to make it a four point game only to see as Jesse Wessingh hit a trey and King hit a jump shot to put the visitors up by nine .

The closest the home side came in the fourth period was with five minutes remaining when Margai drained a trey to make it a three point game but Derby answered with seven straight points to effectively wrap up the game .

Watts led Trailblazers with 19 points and six boards while his brother Dan finished with a 12 point, 12 rebound double, and both King and Donaldson each hitting 13 points.


will @ Mohawks

Leopards made it two wins from two Division One games as they returned from the long trip to Tees Valley Mohawks with an 82-80 victory on Saturday .

Lukas Winegarner and Will Ashby led the way with 17 points apiece, the former adding 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Dave Ajumobi, Bryon Richards and Matic Zupanc all finished with 12 points, with Ajumobi adding eight boards, and Richards and Zupanc each pulling down three rebounds .

The Big Cats were again without Lawrence Brown due to a back injury, with Courtney Van Beest’s shoulder problems also ruling him out, leading to coach Robert Youngblood making another cameo appearance to finish with two points and three boards in six first half minutes .

After good work on the offensive boards had allowed Leopards four of the first five shots, Zupanc gave them the lead with a trey, but a tight first period saw the Big Cats overturn a one point deficit after five minutes to lead 21-18 at the first break .byron @ mohawks

Winegarner opened the second period scoring but the sides were locked at 32 at the midway stage of the second half before Mohawks closed out the half on a 9-2 run to take a 43-42 lead into the locker room at half-time .

Mohawks scored the first six points of the second half to force a timeout from Youngblood and although the move worked with Albert Margai driving to the basket for a lay-up, the home side still led 54-49 after five minutes .

Margau made it a three point game at the seven minute mark in the period before a single free-throw from Ajumobi cut the hosts lead to 64-41 at the final break .

Lloyd Samuels doubled that lead with a trey to open the final period before Wingarner launched a 13-2 run with a pair at the foul line take a lead they would never lose and set up a grandstand finish .

Zupanc drained a trey with 68 seconds on the clock to put the visitors up by five heading into the final minute.

Romonn Nelson drove to the basket to make it a one points game with 20 seconds remaining before Zupanc split a pair at the foul line . Ajumobi’s woes at the foul line continues as he missed a pair but the Big Cats produced some tough defence to seal the win.

Nelson and Samuels led Mohawks with 23 points apiece with Charles Rhodes adding 17 points and Bryan Hockaday finishing with a 13 point, ten rebound double-double .

The game is still online!


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