2014 – Leopards edged out in Leeds
Poor rebounding in the final minute cost Leopards on Saturday night as they went down 64-61 at Leeds Carnegie.
The Big Cats failed to grab a defensive rebound three times in the final minute as Carnegie struggled at the foul line. They had the chance to win the game with five minutes remaining as Kris Clark broke free, but his lay-up failed to connect – although he did appear to be fouled – and Josh McGinn scored on the buzzer to seal the win.
Howard Crawford led Leopards with a 22 point, 12 rebound double-double, with Clark adding 16 points and six assists. The Big Cats were out-rebounded 38-26 and that difference proved crucial as the hosts chalked up their fifth straight league win to move up to fifth spot.
The visitors started well, with player-coach Robert Youngblood an early substitution for Lawrence Brown as Branimir Mikulic twice scored on him, and Youngblood drained a trey to put his side up by four points with 4:46 on the clock. That lead grew to 23-18 at the first break, and the Big Cats were still up by three with four second period minutes gone when Youngblood called a timeout before the hosts closed the half strongly to go into the locker room tied at 34.
A poor start to the second half saw Leeds take a six point lead at the midway stage of the third period, but back-to-back treys from Clark tied the game. That proved to be only a temporary respite as Leeds opened a seven point lead before Ronnie Baker made it a three point game heading into the final break as he went coast-to-coast in the space of five seconds to beat the buzzer with a lay-in, leaving the Big Cats down 53-50.
Crawford opened the fourth period scoring, and with six minutes remaining Carnegie coach Matt Newby called a timeout with the Big Cats leading by three. Mikulic tied the game with a dunk, and 2:51 on the clock, but Clark converted an and-one on the break to restore Leopards’ lead.
Former Leopard Rowell Graham twice split a pair of free-throws, scoring the first and then missing the second with Leeds grabbing the board before McGinn missed a pair at the line, only for the hosts to have the benefit of the jump ball as Ivankovic and Crawford both got the rebound. Clark stole the ball from the inbound but appeared to be fouled as he went to the basket and Carnegie escaped with the win.
Mikulic led Carnegie with 20 points and ten rebounds with Armand Anebo chipping in with ten points.
2020 – Late comeback not enough for Leopards
Leopards’ relegation worries intensified as they lost Saturday’s 83-75 loss at Barking Abbey.
The result leaves the Big Cats joint bottom of the table with Liverpool, and the only consolation for coach Thomas Baker will be that a fourth period comeback reduced the deficit from 28 and gives them a chance of winning the head-to-head decider when the teams meet at Oaklands in mid-March.
Jerrelle Okoro led Baker’s team, hitting 11 of his 19 points from the foul line, adding four rebounds. Ray Akpofore finished with a massive 12 point, 15 rebound double-double while Oaklands youngster Toby Gastaldi-Davies hit four treys on his way to 11 points and Prince Lartey had a ten point, ten assist double-double.
The Big Cats only led briefly in the game and conceded 28 point off turnovers, and went into the first break trailing 24-15 before reducing the deficit to one with a 20-15 second period. But a disastrous third quarter saw the visitors outscored 28-11 to leave them trailing 68-46 at the final break.
Three pointers from Norton and Boardman-Raffet saw the Barking lead grow to 28 with eight minutes left in the game before Akpofore converted an and-one. A Lartey three-point play finally got the Big Cats moving and Gastaldi-Davies’ trey and a lay-up in a 13-0 run saw the visitors make it a nine point game with 2:44 on the clock.
Another Gastaldi-Davies three pointer reduced the arrears to eight, but the Big Cats failed to take advantage of Barking coach James Vear’s ejection, converting only one of their four foul shots. Lartey made it a five point game with 98 seconds on the clock but Norton’s driving lay-up broke the visitors’ run and although the same player only hit one-from-four free-throws as Leopards were forced to foul to stop the clock, Abbey held on for what could prove to be a key victory.