On this day – April 13

1997 – Budweiser League play-offs

Quarter-finals – game 2

Playboy TV Leopards 114

Leicester Riders 106

London Arena

1996 – Budweiser League play-offs

Quarter-finals – game 1

Manchester Giants 72 Leopards 76

Manchester Evening News Arena

2013 – We’re off to the Final Four!

Leopards reached their third straight Final Four and fourth in five years with a 90-75 victory against Tees Valley Mohawks, on Saturday. A blistering second quarter at the Brentwood Centre saw the north-east side outscored 35-12, and the Big Cats never looked back as they made it four straight victories.

Robert Youngblood’s team will face vcars.co.uk Division One champions Reading Rockets in the first semi-final at the Amaechi Centre on April 27 – ticket, travel and hotel details will be announced later this week.

Simon Cummings led the Leopards with 31 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals as he continued his good late-season form. Ish Fontaine added 17 points, while Carl Josey finished with a 13 point, ten rebound double-double, and added three assists.

Greg Hernandez and Lawrence Brown also finish in double figures with 12 points apiece, adding nine and seven rebounds respectively. Mohawks were led by 29 points and seven rebounds from DJ Glavin, with Dave Hensen adding 21 points and Jamie Kohn had a 17 point, 12 rebound double-double, but without the injured Jorge Ebanks, their short rotation was unable to cope with Leopards once they got into their stride.

Leopards again started slowly against the Mohawks as only player-coach Youngblood troubled the scorers in the first 225 seconds, and the visitors rushed into a 9-2 lead with some good shooting from downtown .

Five points from Cummings finally got Leopards going and Josey also drained from the Land of Plenty, before Cummings made it 20-15 in the visitors’ favour with a three point play before the first break.

Josey opened the second period scoring with a trey, and Hernandez hit a pair of jump shots to keep the Big Cats in touch, and with 5:25 on the clock Fontaine finally got a three-point shot to drop to give Leopards their first lead of the game at 29-28

Cummings and Hansen exchanged baskets before a Fontaine three ignited the 19-2 run which effectively sent Leopards into the semi-final. Fontaine hit two more treys in the run and Cummings scored once from downtown before Dan Dunscombe’s dunk (below) sent the Big Cats into the half-time break with a 50-32 lead.

The visitors did show they would make a fight of it at the start of the second half, with Kohn opening the scoring as they went on a 9-0 run. Fontaine’s fourth three-pointer of the night broke the tear, and the Leopards’ lead never dipped into single figures again in the period, peaking at 15 following a Josey score with 43 seconds remaining and they went into the final break with a 64-53 lead following a Glavin buzzer-beater..

Glavin also opened the fourth period scoring with an and-one, but the eight point margin was as close as the Mohawks would come in the final stanza.

A pair of Brown baskets split by a Cummings score was followed up by a Fontaine three-pointer and a dunk saw the lead grow to 15 with a 9-2 run.

The Big Cats never looked in trouble after that and it was Cummings who wrapped things up with a pair of free-throws to send Leopards to Manchester.

Leopards: S Cummings (31), I Fontaine (17), C Josey (13), G Hernandez (12), L Brown (12), R Youngblood (2), D Dunscombe (2), T Martin (1), R Graham, J Davis

2014 – Leopards reach semi-final

A tense game at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday saw Leopards reach their fourth straight Final Fours with a 65-57 victory against Bristol Academy Flyers. Robert Youngblood’s team will now travel to Manchester on Saturday April 26 to face Leeds Carnegie in the semi-final, with the final taking place the following day.

Howard Crawford again led the Big Cats with 23 points and eight rebounds, but it was guard Andre Lockhart who took the game by the scruff of the neck down the stretch on the way to a 19 point game, Kris Clark finished with 11 points and five rebounds, while Shaun Durant had 11 boards to go with his six points.

Ultimately it was an 11-0 run in the fourth period sparked by Lockhart which sealed the game as the visitors were held scoreless for almost six minutes,

The home side started slowly with Roy Owen and Greg Streete giving Bristol a 3-0 lead, but a Clark trey started a 9-2 run with Crawford hitting back-to-back baskets. Four straight Streete free-throws levelled the score at nine but Crawford took his tally to six, and a Courtney Van Beest basket sent Leopards into the first break with a 17-12 lead.

That advantage quickly evaporated as Duane Lautier-Ogunleye buried a three in a 6-0 start to the second period from the visitors, and although baskets from Clark and Durant broke the run, it was only poor foul shooting from the Flyers that kept Leopards in touch. A Crawford and-one cut the deficit to a single point, but the Flyers went into the locker room at half-time 33-30 ahead as Jordan Rankine beat the buzzer.

Streete – who along with Lautier-Ogunleye led his side with 15 points – made it a five point game with the opening shot of the second half, but straight Lockhart points put Leopards 39-38 ahead with three third period minutes remaining. A pair of Owen baskets put Bristol ahead again, and although Lovkhart’s and-one gave Leopards a one point lead, treys from Streete and Tomas Okros sent Bristol into the final break with a 50-47 lead.

That lead grew to five as Lautier-Ogunleye opened the fourth period scoring before scores from Lockhart and Crawford pulled Leopards within a point before Doug McLaughlin-Williams scored what proved to be their final field goal of the game as he sunk a three with 7:24 on the clock to put his side 55-51 ahead

Lockhart halved the lead but after a 90 second lull in scoring Crawford sunk a single free-throw to make it a one point game. A Crawford dunk off Clark’s assist gave Leopards’ the lead with 4:06 on the clock before a massive block from Durant on Streete brought the crowd to its feet.

Clark made it a three point game with a pair of foul shots before Crawford again dunked off his assist before the game was effectively sealed with 99 seconds on the clock as Crawford blocked McLaughlin-Williams’ three-pointer, grabbed the rebound and fed the ball for Clark to dunk it home and put Leopards 60-55 ahead.

Clark made it a seven point game before Lautier-Ogunleye ended the drought from the foul line, but Crawford slammed another massive dunk down before Lockhart  wrapped up the win at the foul line

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