2017 – Giants slain by superb Leopards
Levett Essex Leopards wrote a new chapter in their history on Friday night as Manchester Giants were beaten 86-84 at the Brentwood Centre. The win was the first in the BBL Trophy for the new Big Cats and they became only the fourth EBL side in the competition’s 29-year history to beat a side from Britain’s top league.
Steve Ogunjumi’s team will now host either Scottish champions Boroughmuir Blaze or Plymouth Raiders in the quarter-finals at a venue and date to be announced .
Darrell Bethune led the home side with five three pointers in his 32-point haul, adding five rebounds and three assists for the Big Cats in his best performance since signing in early November.
But it was veteran Mike Martin who stole the show as he played through the pain barrier to lead his side to victory. The former England international looked to be out of the game when he was carried off early in the second half with a knee injury, but as his side looked to have lost the momentum midway through the fourth period he dosed himself up with pain killers, ripped off the strapping and limped back onto the court to steady the ship and help secure a famous win – finishing with 20 points and seven boards.
American guard AJ Roberts continued his good run of form with 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Dougie Bennett added ten points and three rebounds.
An even start to the game saw the visitors lead 17-13 with 3:21 on the clock before Martin’s jump shot launched a 13-0 run to close the quarter, with Bethune converting an and-one before Martin hit a three on the buzzer before completing a four point play at the foul line to send his side into the first break leading 26-17.
If Leopards fans thought that was as good as it got they were wrong as Bennett opened the second period with a trey and Bethune made it a 17-0 run with a foul shot to put his side up by 13.
Visockis eventually ended the run but another Bennett triple made it a 15-point game with 6:21 on the clock. The rest of the half was spent with both sides at the charity stripe – Leopards being called for a bizarre double foul at one stage which saw the visitors receive four shots and the ball back – as Giants chipped away at the lead but despite a dubious three-point foul call which allowed Creppy to convert three free-throws with seconds on the clock, the Big Cats ended possibly the longest ever second period with a 49-38 lead.
The second half couldn’t have started in worse fashion for Leopards as Jerelle Okoro (who led the Giants with 17 points) hit a trey before Martin went crashing to the ground – somehow picking up an offensive foul in the process – and had to leave the game.
Treys from Roberts and Bethune kept Leopards’ lead around the ten mark, and Bethune continued to torment the visitors with ten points in the period before a 13-5 run cut the home side’s lead to 65-62 at the final break.
But that lead evaporated as Traianos hit a triple and Okoro converted a lay-up to put the visitors 68-65 ahead.
Ogunjimi’s timeout with 7:45 on the clock saw Martin return after his enforced break and he hit a pair of baskets to keep his side within two points at the midway stage of the fourth quarter.
Bethune again found the basket from the Land of Plenty to put Leopards up by one and it was nip and tuck down the stretch as the hosts went into the final minute trailing 84-82.
It was Bethune who hit the go-ahead trey, converting off Roberts’ assist with 44 seconds on the clock before grabbing the rebound from Creppy’s miss 18 seconds later.
With six second remaining Bethune was harshly adjudged to have fouled Callum Jones, giving him the chance the put his side back ahead. But the pressure showed on the English guard as he rimmed both shots, leaving Perry Lawson to grab the rebound.
Lawson was fouled, but he too missed both free-throws only for Martin to grab the rebound and pass to Roberts, who was predictably fouled. The American guard missed the first shot before sinking the second and the Big Cats played some good defence in the remaining 2.5 seconds to seal a famous win.
2012 – Leopards hammer Capital
Leopards 85 (17,46,72) PAWS London Capital 50 (9,22,37)
LEOPARDS continued their march up the EBL Division One table with a third straight league victory, on Friday evening. In front of another large crowd, the Big Cats led for 38 of the 40 minutes and never looked in trouble as coach Dejan Mihevc was able to run his bench for much of the second half.
Ousman Krubally led the way with a 22 point, 12 rebound double-double, in just 24 minutes, while Vernon Teel finished with 21 points, eight assists and five boards in 25 minutes. John Lister had four three-pointers on his way to a 16 point night, while Lukas Volskis added eight points and four assists. Ibrahim Gariba was the only Capital player in double figures with a 21 point, 12 rebound double-double.
In Leopards’ biggest ever home Division One win, Teel opened the scoring with a pair at the foul line. Although Gariba levelled things, Teel gave the Big Cats a lead they would never lose with three minutes gone. Bradley Wilkinson sent the home side into the first break with a 17-9 lead, and a Krubally dunk sparked an 11-0 run to open the second quarter.
Wilkinson capped the run with a free-throw to put the Big Cats 29-8 up 12 minutes into the game – effectively ending it as a contest. David Buchberger hit a three-pointer off Joe Lockwood’s assist as Leopards went into the locker room with a 46-22 half-time lead.
Teel opened the second half scoring from the charity stripe, and the lead hit the 30 point mark with two third period minutes when Wilkinson converted Buchberger’s assist. Lister wrapped up the third period scoring from downtown as Leopards went into the final break 72-37 ahead and the lead peaked at 37 when Zak Wells grabbed Buchberger’s miss and converted from close range.
All of the Leopards’ players managed at least five minutes court time as the Big Cats moved up to ninth in the Division One table ahead of Sunday’s visit from Worthing Thunder in the National Trophy quarter-final.
Leopards: O Krubally (22), V Teel (21), J Lister (16), L Volskis (8), Z Wells (6), D Buchberger (5), B Wilkinson (5), J Cabey (2), D Norton, S Bublys, J Lockwood, M Adomaitis.
2019 – Trophy heart-break for Leopards
Leopards’ Trophy hopes were ended in agonising fashion at Hemel Storm on Sunday as they went down 95-94. American forward Asante Sandiford had the chance to put his side into semi-final but he failed to connect on a pair of free-throws with just 0.6 seconds remaining before missing the tip-in on the buzzer.
Sandiford had led the Big Cats with 37 points and 12 rebounds in a high-scoring game which saw the lead repeatedly change.
The teams were tied at 93 with a minute left before Lee Hodges converted a lay-up off Luke Mascall-Wright’s lay-up, only to Levi Noel’s trey put his side ahead with 32 seconds on the clock. Both sides missed before Sandiford was left with the ball in his hands and seven seconds on the clock. He drove to the basket and was fouled Leome Francis, but with the home fans in full voice he missed both foul shorts to send Leopards out of the competition.
Mascall-Wright finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Sam Newman added seven assists to his ten points . Former Hemel big man Hodges finished with a 13 point, ten rebound double-double, and his ex-Storm team-mate Chuck Duru came off the bench to add 12 points and seven boards.
Mascall-Wright had opened the scoring with a triple, and an assist from Sandiford to give Duru a lay-up saw Leopards lead 29-25 at the first break. A driving lay-up from Mascall-Wright and a Hodges dunk saw Leopards keep ahead and Sandiford’s basket kept them up by two at the mid-stage of the second quarter.
Former Leopard Shaq Lewis briefly gave the hosts the lead with a trey, but Findlay Wood answered from the Land of Plenty and three straight three-point plays from Sandiford saw the Big Cat go into the locker room with a 57-51 lead at the half-time break.
A poor start to the second half saw Hemel take control with a ten straight points before Sandiford broke the run and Leopards stayed in touch and Mascall-Wright drained from downtown to cut Hemel’s lead to 77-76 at the final break.
A Hodges lay-up an a three-point play by Sandiford tied the game and Mascall-Wright again levelled the score at 91 going into the final three minutes. Sandiford and Levi Noel exchanged baskets to set up the grandstand finish, but ultimately Leopards came up just short and will now look to concentrate on getting a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
Blaine Freckleton led the hosts with 35 points, while Francis added 22 and Noel 13.