On this day – Jan 5

2014 – Baker sinks winner in thriller

Leopards bounced back from the previous day’s loss in Leeds to clinch a stunning 85-83 victory at Bradford Dragons. England’s most capped player, Ronnie Baker, was the hero at Bradford as he drained a three with eight seconds left to put Leopards 84-83 ahead.

Some great defence forced the Dragons into a turnover, and Baker was sent to the foul line with 1.2 seconds remaining where he hit the first shot before deliberately missing the second to run the clock down.

Earlier in the game the Big Cats had trailed by as many as 14 before three Kris Clark three-pointers in the third period dragged them back into the game, and they still trailed by five with just over two minutes remaining before Robert Youngblood and Clark set up the thrilling finish with some good foul shooting.

Clark led all scorers with 24 points – 22 of which came in the second half, with Howard Crawford adding 12 and Carl Josey ten. It was the third game Dragons had lost in the league this season, with Leopards having inflicted two of those defeats on them to take the head-to-head decider.

The Big Cats started well, leading 12-9 after five minutes of action, but were pegged back to 18-16 going into the first break before a 7-0 run at the start of the second half put the home side in charge.

The home side led 31-24 when coach Youngblood called a time-out with 4:24 remaining in the second period, but worse was to follow when he and Baker collided, and Youngblood was forced to limp out of the action.

Despite the loss of the veteran forward Leopards stayed in touch, trailing 41-34 at half-time, but the game appeared to have slipped away from them as Bradford extended that lead to 14 midway through the third period on the back of ten unanswered points.

The introduction of Baker at the point guard spot, moving Clark to shooting guard paid off as the American drained three baskets from the Land of Plenty, and Baker beat the buzzer with a floater to cut the deficit to 64-59 at the final break.

The Big Cats could make few inroads into the deficit in the early stages of the fourth period, Youngblood calling a time-out 6:29 remaining and his side down by six, and although Clark made it a three point game at the five minute mark, Leopards were still five down when Youngblood limped back into the game with three minutes remaining. Youngblood drained a pair at the foul line before Clark also hit two free-throws to make it a one point game heading into the final minute., but they trailed by two heading into the final 23 seconds before Baker’s heroics set up the win.

The Big Cats shared the points out nicely with Baker, Ish Fontaine and Courtney Van Beest all finishing with eight, Youngblood adding seven and Iaon Nickson having his best game as a Leopard with five points and as many assists. Dragons were led by 14 points from Dan Foley, with Vance Silcott and Denis Scott adding 13 apiece.

2013 – Revenge for the Big Cats

Leopards gained revenge for their opening day loss at Tees Valley Mohawks with a hard-fought 96-88 victory at Basildon Sporting Village on Saturday evening.

Greg Hernandez led the way with a 26 point, 13 rebound double-double for Robert Youngblood’s side, while Taner Adu finished with 22 points and five boards. Dan Dunscombe had arguably his best game in a Leopards vest, hitting eight of his nine shots on the way to 18 points in 21 minutes, while Carl Josey added 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Simon Cummings missed out on a triple-double by a single point as a late three-point attempt rimmed out, adding 11 rebound and as many assists.

Leopards led for 34 of the 40 minutes but never managed to pull away from a Mohawks team who went into the game sitting second in the vcars.co.uk Division One table, and the result moved the Big Cats up to joint seventh as they look to repeat their post-Christmas form of 2012.

David Hansen, who finished with 22 points for the visitors, opened the scoring with a trey, only for Adu to reply with a three-point play, and that set the pattern for the game. A Lawrence Brown basket with just under three minutes remaining in the first period put Leopards 20-12 ahead, only for Jamie Kahn to cap and 8-2 Mohawks run to close out the period and reduce the Big Cats’ lead to 22-20 at the first break.

Dunscombe grabbed Adu’s miss and scored the put-back to open the second period scoring before Josey sparked an 8-2 run capped by Cummings which saw the hosts take the biggest lead of the game – 40-29 at the five minute mark. Despite a Lee McLaughlin trey, Leopards kept a comfortable lead until the dying minutes of the half before Mohawks again finished strongly, scoring 12 of the final 17 points to cut the Big Cats; half-time lead to 47-43.

Tom Robinson opened the second half scoring for the Mohawks, but Leopards remained ahead with back-to-back Hernandez scores off Cummings assists put them ahead by five before Dunscombe put them 55-48 up off a Josey assist with three minutes gone. That proved to be as good it got in the third period as Mohawks reeled off six straight points to make it a one point game and Kohn put his side back into the lead for the first time since the early stages when he converted Jorge Ebanks’ assist with 4:28 on the clock.

Ebanks – who led the hosts with a 28 point and five assists but also chalked up 11 turnovers – converted a three point play to put the visitors up by four, but scores from Adu and Hernandez leveled the score, and game remained tight until a massive Dunscombe dunk off Cummings’ assist sent Leopards into the final break with a 69-67 lead.

Ebanks leveled the score with the first basket of the final period, but Adu launched a 10-2 run capped by Tom Martin’s shot from the top of the key put the Big Cats in charge at 79-71 with 7:14 on the clock.

Adu and Hansen exchanged three pointers before Dunscombe made it a ten point game off Robert Youngblood’s assist with six minutes remaining.

Any thoughts that the game were over were quickly dispelled as Kohn capped an 11-2 run to bring Mohawks within a point at the 3:06 mark but missed the bonus shot after being foul by Cummings.

Hansen leveled the score with a single free-throw with 2:34 on the clock only to see Josey give Leopards a lead they would never lose off a Hernandez assist.

The visitors were limited to just two points in the final 150 seconds as Youngblood’s defence proved crucial and Cummings hit three of four at the foul line to wrap up the win.

Leopards: G Hernandez (26), T Adu (22), D Dunscombe (18), C Josey (12), S Cummings (9), T Martin (5), L Brown (4), R Youngblood, I Fontaine, R Graham, D Camile (DNP)

2019 – Tough night for Big Cats

Leopards had a night to forget on Saturday as they went down 101-60 at Division One leaders and title favourites Solent Kestrels. Apart from an early lead following baskets from Luke Mascall-Wright and Lee Hodges, the home side dominated throughout as they increased their stranglehold at the top of the league table.
Solent – led by 21 points apiece from Tayo Oyefusi, Nick Lewis and Travis Charles – went into the first break 27-16 ahead and extended that lead to 50-33 at half-time. Any thoughts of the Big Cats making a comeback were dispelled with a 29-16 third period before Kestrels completed the rout with a 22-11 final period.
Hodges finished with another double-double, adding 15 boards to his 11 points, while Mascall-Wright and Findlay Wood also added 11 points each. Duru and Sandiford finished with nine apiece, although the latter fouled out after 21 minutes of action.

2002 – It’s not all White on the night

DG London Leopards Kool Kats 89 (27,52,71)
Jason Kimbrough 19, Rod Brown 17, Mo Robinson 16
Kinder London Towers 93 (29,45,66)
John White 29,Brett Eppehimer 23, Terrell Myers 21
BBL Championship @ Brentwood Leisure Centre
Kinder London Towers took the spoils in the first meeting of the season with their arch-rivals DG London Leopards Kool Kats. Towers edged a thrilling encounter 93-89.
Towers seven unanswered points in the second quarter were wiped out by 11 without reply from the Leopards to help the home side into a 52-45 half-time lead. Towers leveled the game at 66 with a 6-0 burst only for Leopards to hit the last five of the third quarter. A 10-0 Towers run set up a barn-storming finish and Brett Eppehimer’s extremely long three-pointer 40s from the buzzer tilted it Towers way.
John White, part of Leopards’ two BBL title winning sides, led Towers with 29 points.

2020 – Leopards fall to champions

A great first half performance against an unbeaten Solent side wasn’t enough to prevent Leopards losing 113-79 against league champions Solent Kestrels at a packed Brentwood Centre, on Sunday.
Against a side who defeated British League champions London Lions the previous day and have won all 18 games this season, Leopards kept the big crowd on the edge of their seats in the first half before fading after the break.
The Big Cats had lost 122-61 at Solent on the opening day of the season but with Prince Lartey having his best performance of the season – finishing with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds – they gave Kestrels one of their toughest tests of the season.
Captain Chuck Duru finished with 14 points and five rebounds while Jerrelle Okoro battled with foul trouble all game – appearing to be called for a foul committed by a different player at one stage – to add 11 points in 16 minutes. Another Oaklands youngster, Ahmed Ketiri, had his best game in a Leopards’ vest to add five rebounds to his ten points.
Lartey sunk a trey to open the scoring, but nine Luke Busumbru points in a 14-4 run helped Solent lead 31-23 at the first break despite a pair of Toby Gastaldi-Davies triples
But the second quarter saw Leopards play some of their best basketball of the season as an early 6-0 run thanks to Teni Mongo and Lartey made it a four point game. Treys from Lartey, Okoro, Ketiri and Duru saw cut Kestrels’ lead to a single point on several occasions, only for Solent to answer each time. A lay-up from Lartey cut the deficit to one point again before Ian Smith hit a pair at the foul line to give his side a 54-51 lead going into the locker room.
It was as still a one-point game following Ketiri’s put-back three minutes into the second half, but with Okoro leaving the game following an offensive foul, Kestrels went on a 24-6 run to close out the quarter with an 82-63 lead and effectively wrap up the win.
Jonathan Lashley led Solent with a 25 point, 14 rebound double-double, adding four assists, while Busumbru finished with a season-high 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds. American pair Smith and Travis Charles each added eight rebounds to their 21 and 20 points respectively while Elliott Dadds sunk six triples on the way to an 18 point, seven rebound night.

The game was won on the boards, with Solent out-rebounding the home side 59-35

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