2014 – Season ends in disappointment
Leopards’ season ended in disappointment as they lost 72-62 against Leeds Carnegie in the play-off semi-final at Manchester on Saturday. A depleted Big Cats’ side who were missing suspended player-coach Robert Youngblood and captain Carl Josey whose father died on Wednesday never recovered from a poor third period, allowing Carnegie to progress to Sunday’s final where they narrowly defeated Division One champions Reading Rockets.
Howard Crawford led the Big Cats with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists, with Andre Lockhart and Kris Clark each finishing with 14 points, Clark adding four boards and as many assists despite also getting into foul trouble.
Crawford opened the scoring and provided Leopards’ first five points before Clark hit a trey, and they led for most of the period despite being forced to sit Shaun Durant down on two fouls.
Clark hit another from the Land of Plenty before Lawrence Brown put his side three up with two minutes of the period remaining, and the seven footer sent the Big Cats into the first break 19-18 ahead.
Van Beest doubled the lead from the foul line to open the second period, but the whole quarter was played within a four point range herunterladen.
Former Leopard Duane Camille levelled the score at 22 with 6:29 on the clock, before Ronnie Baker put the Big Cats back up by two.
Leeds hit six unanswered points to give them their biggest lead of the first half, four points, but three points from Lockhart saw Leopards narrow the gap and a Crawford dunk gave Leopards a 35-34 half-time lead.
The damage was done in the third period as Leopards were out-scored 21-9, Van Beest kept the Big Cats within a point early in the quarter but a 7-0 run giving Carnegie a lead they would never relinquish.
A Van Beest basket followed by another Clark trey cut the deficit to three but former Leopard Rowell Graham capped an 11-2 run to close out the quarter strongly and send Carnegie into the final break with a 55-44 lead.
Crawford opened the fourth period scoring and Clark hit another triple and Leopards kept the deficit to eight with six minutes remaining. A pair of Lockhart free-throws again pulled the Big Cats within six with 5:37 on the clock and Durant made it a five point game with as many minutes remaining but that was as good as it got as Leopards’ season ended in a loss.
American forward Russell Parmenter led Leeds with 16 points with Lithuanian Branimir Mikulic adding 14 and nine boards. Former Leopards Graham was one of five Carnegie players in double figures with ten points, while Camille – making a surprise start – finished with eight points.
Semi-final woe for Leopards
I’ve enjoyed putting this history together. It’s helped me through many, many lockdowns. I’m writing this on January 31st. But this bit made me laugh. So I thought I’d include it. I clearly had the hump.
A depleted Big Cats’ side who were missing suspended player-coach Robert Youngblood and captain Carl Josey whose father died on Wednesday never recovered from a poor third period, allowing Carnegie to progress to Sunday’s final where they narrowly defeated Division One champions Reading Rockets.
The Big Cats clearly missed the spark that Courtney Van Beest brings off the bench as he started in place of Josey, and they could clearly have done with some court time from Youngblood as their big men suffered with foul trouble.
“It was disappointing” admitted general manager Dave Ryan. “Obviously we missed Carl, and our thoughts are with him and his family, because he is an important part of the team. Going into a vital game like this without a key player was a massive disadvantage, and not having Robert coaching or available to play made a difference, as well.
“But it’s been a successful season, finishing runners-up in the league and reaching two semi-finals is a real achievement. “People seem to think that the level of success that we’ve achieved over the last four years comes easily but it doesn’t. We have to scrape for every penny, if we had the kind of resources Leeds have, I’d expect at least two trophies each year.
“Mind you, even without those resources we manage to attend pre-game meetings, send out game confirmations and generally act in a professional manner.
“But we’ll have a bit of a rest, re-group and look to do even better next year.”