On this day – Dec 18


dsc_0611Essex Leopards head into the Christmas break on a high after a thrilling 87-86 victory against Lancashire Spinners, on Sunday .
The Brentwood crowd went through the full range of emotions as Leopards’ depleted line-up trailed by 12 at half-time before a stunning second half comeback saw them lead by seven with just over two minutes remaining.  But the visitors replied with an 8-0 run and appeared to have won the game as they had a one-point lead with 3.2 seconds on the clock only for Tosin Oyelese to hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to spark some wild celebrations .
The odds were certainly stacked against the Big Cats as they went into the game with only seven fit players, a squad that included coach Steve Ogunjimi who played his first number of meaningful minutes for two years .dsc_0641
However Ogunjimi’s appearance only last 12 minutes of court time as he was controversially ejected midway through the second period for what appeared to be nothing more than talking to the referee .
With Justin Hitchman and Dougie Bennett injured, Caleb Tabanar and Dominic Scott-Robinson unavailable, and Perry Lawson suspended following his ejection at Leicester, the remaining Leopards were forced to step up and they were led by a triple-double from American guard AJ Robert who finished with a 24 point, 12 rebound and 12 assist triple-double .
dsc_0465Darrell Bethune added 25 points, four assists and four boards while Mike Martin had 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a full 40-minute performance, and Jamie Hayes added 11 points .
The Big Cats had overcome a slow start to cut an early ten-point deficit to trail only 24-21 at the first break but the ejection of Ogunjimi clearly disrupted the home side and they were 50-38 down at half-time .
The visitors made it a 15-point game with the opening score of the second half and there was little sign of the comeback that was to follow until three minutes before the end of the third period when Roberts launched a 10-2 run, and a Bethune lay-up cut the deficit to 67-65 at the final break .
Bethune drained a three to open the final stanza as they took their first lead of the game, and Martin put the hosts 75-69 ahead with 6:31 on the clock .
The lead grew to eight with four minutes remaining as Martin converted a Bethune assist, and Roberts made it 82-75 with 2:19 remaining.
dsc_0485Essex Leopards v Bradford Dragons, 27 Nov 2016; Tosin Oyelese;As the Big Cats struggled at the foul line, Spinners chipped away at the lead  and Mark Rangely cut the lead to 85-84 with 23 seconds left and a poorly executed play saw the ball turned over as Rangeley put his team ahead by one going into the final play .
A timeout from stand-in coach Roger Malpass saw Robert inbound the ball to Martin who found Oyelese just inside the foul line and he sunk his shot to seal the win.

1999 Overtime heartbreak at Palace

HARIBO London Towers 127 (31,56,78,95,106)
Lewis 47, Bucknall 23, Bowman 19
adidas London Leopards 120 (24,42,66,95,106)
Capers 40,Johnson 28, Kimbrough 27
Dairylea Dunkers Championship @ Crystal Palace NSC
HARIBO London Towers notched up their second victory of the Dairylea Dunkers Championship season over the adidas London Leopards with an enthralling 127-120 double overtime victory.
Towers Danny Lewis played chief destroyer bagging a game high 47 points including a three pointer to start the final period of overtime to help Towers to safety. Earlier the Leopards led by 40 points from Kenya Capers had fought back from 78-58 in arrears to lead 94-92 with 1m remaining.

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