After a season of consolidation, it was a considerably stronger Leopards side that took to the court for the 2005/season, although American forward Troy Selvey returned which proved to be something of a rarity. As well a host of new signings, the Big Cats had a new home. Crowds at Ware had been disappointing – although given that two versions of Ware Rebels had failed to put enough bums on seats to make semi-pro basketball work, that shouldn’t have been a surprise – and Goresbrook Leisure Centre along with the Brentwood Centre became Leopards’ home. However with fixture congestion caused by a National Cup run and entry into the BBL Trophy, the Big Cats ended up playing a handful of games at Wodson Park.
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly lifting the National Cup in front of 6,000 people at the NIA in Birmingham. The Big Cats were helped by home draws throughout the competition, although “home” was all three of their courts. Lower division Colchester were hammered at Wodson Park in the second round before a 74-50 destruction of London United really made the basketball public notice that the Big Cats were certainly half-decent. Another big win against strugglers Solent at Goresbrook – in a game where the opposition turned up in the same colours as Leopards, which led to a turnover-fest – gave Jon Burnell’s a home semi-final against Worcester Wolves. The teams met at Brentwood the previous week and Leopards ended Wolves’ unbeaten start to the season with an 85-79 victory but that gave no hint of the carnage that was to follow a week later as Wolves were hammered 84-51 at Goresbrook. Just 15 months after their first official game, the new Leopards were in a major final.
The 2006 Commonwealth Games meant that the traditional January final had been brought forward to December and there was only a fortnight between the victory against Wolves and a trip to the NIA. Naturally, despite there being only one game between semi-final and final, it was against their Cup final opponents Reading and the game proved to be a war of attrition as Rockets ran out 66-65 winners in overtime.
The National Cup was the first piece of silverware the old Leopards had won, but during their year in abeyance it ha undergone major changes. Rather than being a competition for BBL teams with a handful of Division One sides invited to make the number up to 16, it became a competition for NBL teams with the BBL teams having their own competition, imaginatively called the BBL Cup. Despite the schism that had led to the change, the finals of the two competitions were staged together in Birmingham.
The back stories were numerous; Leopards’ coach Jon Burnell had played for Rockets’ play-caller Dave Titmuss for several while Eroll Seaman had won the competition with Rockets the previous year. Rockets’ guard Lloyd Gardner had played for both the old Leopards while his father Paul had been a director of Rebels when Leopards Alive bought the franchise. Rockets also had Tomas Kersis in their side after winning a recruiting battle with the Big Cats for the Lithuanian in the summer.
The game was an excellent advert for Division One, and certainly more exciting than the BBL final that followed, and while it was Selvey who won the MVP, Sam Salter was the man who coolly sunk four-from-four at the foul to give Leopards the Cup, and getting a guinea pig named after him in the process. . Report below. A perfect day was completed when Towers lost the BBL final against Newcastle, though few Leopards’ fans witnessed the end as the celebrations were well under ay by then.
While the Cup final success was clearly the highlight of the season, there was plenty of other notable points. The value of the Leopards “brand” was again shown as they were invited into the BBL Trophy, facing four teams from the pro game including a trip to Crystal Palace to face old rivals Towers.
All four games were lost – paving the way for over a decade of losses in the competition – but the side put some decent performances and the only disappointment was that fixture congestion caused by the Cup run meant that both home games were played at Wodson Park, though even that was tempered by sell-out crowds in both games.
Having signed Canadian guard Skye Buck following the successful pre-season trial, the decision was made in late-October to replace him with American Demetrice Williams. The decision certainly paid off with Williams instantly improving the team and playing a key part in winning the National Cup, but the previous year’s problems with imports repeated themselves when Williams jumped ship in late February to join an Austrian club. As can be seen from the news story below, the club weren’t happy!
Despite Williams leaving and Steve Ogunjimi – who had had two spells with the old Leopards – injured, the Big Cats still managed to win five of their final six league games to seal sixth place in the Division One table. A second successive trip to Sheffield to face the Arrows was their reward, and it was one of the few disappointments of a successful season as a poor performance ended with a 93-69 defeat.
We’re on our way to the NIA!
Essex & Herts Leopards 84 (13,37,57) Worcester Wolves 51 (12,28,39)
Just 15 months after their first game, the Leopards reached the National Cup final with a comprehensive mauling of high-flying Worcester at Goresbrook on Saturday.
Back-court duo Demetrice Williams and Steve Ogunjimi led the way with 20 points each, but it was a superb defensive display from the Big Cats that sent them into the final. In a dominant display, the Big Cats trailed for only a minute during the early stages of the game, and will now face Reading Rockets at Birmingham’s NIA on December 4.
After a tight start, Leopards scored 11 consecutive points to lead13-4 with 3:54 on the clock as a successful “and-one” from Ogunjimi capped the run. However, four points from Ty Shaw helped the visitors fight back as they scored the final eight points of the period, to send Leopards into the first break with a 13-12 lead.
Errol Seaman opened the second period scoring, and baskets from Ogunjimi and Troy Selvey saw Leopards extend the lead to 22-14 three minutes into the quarter – and the home side never looked back from there. Ogunjimi went on to add a further five points, and Sam Salter dropped a three-pointer late in the period as Leopard reached half-time with a 37-28 lead.
Worcester’s Matt Collins scored from behind the arc to open the second half and reduce the Leopards’ lead to six, but that was as close as the visitors came as the Big Cats produced a dominant performance with their three-guard line-up proving far too quick for a side who had won their first 11 games of the season. Williams showed the kind of form which had persuaded Leopards’ coach Jon Burnell to bringhim over from Atlanta as he doubled his points tally to 16. Salter also added a pair of threes as he continued his good form, and his second shot from the Land of Plenty sent the Big Cats into the final break with an 18-point lead.
Any thoughts of a comeback from the visitors was killed off during the early stages of the fourth quarter as Selvey scored the first six points from the Big Cats and Salter added yet another trey, forcing Wolves’ coach Josh Cooprider to call a time-out with Leopards leading 66-43 and 7:09 remaining.
The break did little for his team as Ogunjimi added another three to effectively wrap things up, and during the final minutes Brian Moore, Ed Gregory and skipper Matt Eames all put their names on the scoresheet to send Leopards into their first final.
Leopards: S Ogunjimi 20, D Williams 20, T Selvey16, S Salter 14, E Seaman 5, B Moore 3, D Jones 2, M Eames 2, E Gregory, R Lloyd
6 December 2005 Leopards – National Cup winners
Essex & Herts Leopards 79 (25,39,57) Reading Rockets 75 (9,31,53)
Troy Selvey collected the MVP award as Leopards produced a stunning performance to win the National Cup at the NIA on Sunday. Selvey scored 22 points and took eight rebounds as the Big Cats overcame foul trouble to win basketball’s equivalent of the FA Cup after being formed just 16 months ago.
Leopards had four players foul out, including all three of their big men, but Sam Salter coolly drained four free-throws in the dying minutes to send the large travelling support into raptures.
Rockets took an early lead after baskets from EJ Harrison and Paul Tonkovich, but a Salter three with seven minutes on the clock gave Leopards a lead they were to never lose. An early indication of the foul trouble Leopards were to suffer came with 4:22 of the first period remaining when Salter collected his second foul, but two treys from Steve Ogunjimi saw the Big Cats build a 21-9 lead, and Roger Lloyd tipped the ball in on the buzzer to give his side a 14 point lead at the first break.
Rockets opened the second period with a 7-2 run, and fouls continued to mount with Salter collecting his third, and Selvey, Demetrice Williams, Roger Lloyd, Ogunjimi and Errol Seaman all reaching half-time with two. Back-to-back threes from Dave Jones and Brian Moore saw Leopards extend their lead to 15 at the midway point of the second period, but a three pointer from Richard Wellings helped Rockets reduce the Big Cats’ advantage to eight at half time.
A steal and basket from Salter saw Leopards start the second half well, and an Ogunjimi three saw them take their lead into double figures, before Seaman was forced to sit down on four fouls with 7:19 of the third period remaining. Selvey and Tonkovich continued to be the side’s main threats as Leopards held a ten point lead, but a laughable foul call on Brian Moore on the buzzer saw Lloyd Gardener sink three free-throws to cut the Big Cats’ lead to four as they went into the final break.
A Tonkovich lay-up halved that lead but a Moore trey and two Williams free-throws kept the Big Cats in front as Rockets continued to struggle from the line.
Seaman became the first Leopard to foul out, with 6:21 remaining, but threes from Salter and Ogunjimi saw the Big Cats maintain their lead before Selvey joined Seaman on the bench with 4:16 left in the game. Tonkovich also fouled out, leaving Jones to sink both free-throws, but Williams and Lloyd also left the game as the foul-fest continued.
With 18 seconds remaining, the Big Cats led by four after former Leopard Gardner had cut through the defence, and Rockets were forced to foul to stop the clock. They picked the wrong man in Salter to foul, as he coolly sunk his first two from the charity stripe, and despite Harrison also scoring twice from the foul line, Reading ignored their coach’s instructions to foul anyone except Salter, the 29-year-old drained both of his shots from the foul line to spark wild celebrations both on the court and in the stands.
Leopards: T Selvey 22, S Salter 15, S Ogunjimi 12.B Moore 11, E Seaman 6, D Jones 6, D Williams 4, R Lloyd 2, M Eames,E Gregory (DNP), J Warwick (DNP)
JB – “It was a great performance by the whole side”
Leopards coach Jon Burnell had high praise for his side as they lifted the National Cup at the NIA.
“It was a great performance by the whole side” he said “We had four players foul out, but everyone played their part. Initially we just aimed to get to the final, but once your there, you have to win it. We prepared all week for it, and learnt from our defeat against them last week.”
“We started well and gave ourselves a good cushion. They were always going to come back at us, but effectively we won it in the first quarter.”
Burnell, who had a successful career as a player with Crystal Palace and Hemel Hempstead, admitted that coaching Leopards to their first piece of silverware was biggest achievement of his career.
“It’s the highlight of my career” he said. “I’ve won the league and played in some rally big games for club and country, but this is the best. I’m proud of every single one of the players. We stuck with what we were trying to do, and played as a team. Teamwork wins games, and gives the individuals the chance to shine. Troy deserved his MVP award, but everyone contributed. Even Skye [Buck] who wasn’t wearing a uniform helped, and said some great stuff on the bench.”
Burnell also praised shooting guard Sam Salter who scored the winning free-throws: “We knew if we got the ball to Sam they would have to foul him. He believes he’s make every shot he takes, he had no nerves, he just went and sunk all four.
“I’m so pleased for everyone at the club. It’s such a disappointment if you get there and don’t perform.”
4 November 2005
Leopards add Williams
Leopards will field new point guard Demetrice Williams when they travel to old rivals London Towers in the BBL Trophy on Saturday.
The 6’ 1” former South Alabama college player was given international clearance at midday and will make his debut at Crystal Palace, tomorrow. The 25-year-old helped his side to back-to-back Sun Belt Conference championships in his first two seasons at college, and finished seventh in the USA college system in steals in 2001/2. A season in the ABA with Fresno Heat Wave followed along with a trip to Egypt with the Athletes in Action touring side where they beat the home national team 6-1 in a seven game series.
After spending last season with the Athletes in Action team, he joins the Leopards’ quest for success, and coach Jon Burnell is excited about his new acquisition: “Demetrice is a true point, and is lightning quick” he said. “He runs the plays well, and I’m sure he’ll be a great signing for us.”
Canadian guard Skye Buck will remain with the Leopards in a back-up capacity, and is expected to play against Towers. While Williams makes his debut in British basketball, it will be a return to one of their former clubs for fellow Big Cats Steve Ogunjimi, Errol Seaman and Sam Salter who have all played for Towers.
9 March 2006
Williams leaves without warning
Essex & Herts Leopards’ play-off hopes have been hit after point-guard Demetrice Williams left the club without warning.
The American point guard joined the Big Cats in November, but left suddenly last week after receiving an offer from Austrian club Superfund Bulls Kapfenberg. “We are shocked with how Demetrice has acted” admitted Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan. “Demetrice is registered to play with us, and we have no intention of releasing him until his club has paid a transfer fee. We do understand that he was offered a lot of money by the Austrian club, but he agreed to play for us for the whole season, and we expected him to stick to that agreement.”
Williams was due to make his debut for Kapfenberg on Monday, but with Leopards refusing to give international clearance he was forced to sit out the game. “We don’t think we are being unreasonable” said Ryan. “After we had won the National Cup, Demetrice made a speech thanking everyone at the club for giving him a chance to play professional basketball. Unfortunately it seems that he soon forgot those words when someone offered him more money.”
It is the second time in as many seasons that Leopards have been hit by a point guard leaving the club after the January 31 signing deadline, as Brandon Kephart went back to Oklahoma just six weeks after signing for the Big Cats, and it is a trend that has left Ryan worried.
“I’m sure it appears from the outside that we don’t look after our full-time players, and that couldn’t be further from the truth” he said. “I’ve spoken to many players around the league and it’s clear that we offer a good deal. We’re not the highest payers, but we honour what we promise, and do our best to look after them. All we ask in return is that they keep their side of the deal.”
“I’m under no doubt that Demetrice will have a very successful career, but it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for him to honour his commitments to us. Not only will we suffer on the court, but he has also damaged our community programme. After all the work, and no small amount of money, that has gone into making Leopards a success, it’s very disappointing that Demetrice has treated us this way.”
Pawprint75.co.uk – January mid-season preview
Also in mid-table are the erratic Essex & Herts Leopards, who can raise their game for the big occasion (as they showed by lifting the National Cup), but seem to have more difficulty finding consistency in the League.
The Leopards are either a very new team, or a very long-established one, depending on your viewpoint. Last season I still thought of them as the successors to Ware Rebels, whose franchise they took over, but this year they no longer play any matches at Ware’s old home of Wodson Park, and are based purely in Essex, at Brentwood and Goresbrook, and I now tend to view them as wither a totally new outfit, or (as they probably consider themselves) as successors to the old Leopards.
They have an excellent squad, with key English players such as Steve Ogunjimi and Errol Seaman, but the key to their recent success appears to have been the acquisition of guard Demetrice Williams. They may be off the pace at the moment, but if they can string together a run of good results they could still challenge for a top four finish.
14/01/06 – this was a wind-up, it made the local papers and BBC Ceefax (remember that?)
ESSEX & Herts Leopards have joined the race to sign NBA legend Dennis Rodman.
The former Chicago Bulls star is in Britain for Channel Four’s Big Brother programme, and is looking for a short-term deal with and English club.
44-year-old Rodman played alongside Michael Jordan as Bulls completed a hat-trick of NBA titles in the late 1990s, and gained a reputation for his flamboyancy which included posing on the front of a national magazine in a wedding dress, being suspended for kicking a courtside cameraman and announcing that he wanted to play his final NBA game naked.
“Signing Dennis for a couple of games would be an unbelievable boost for Leopards” said general manager Dave Ryan. “We’d want him to stay for a week or so with us, which considering the money he’s asking for isn’t unreasonable, and play games at both Goresbrook and the Brentwood Centre.
“We would need to gain sponsorship for this to happen, the extra gate receipts alone would not pay for it. “But the publicity for both ourselves and any sponsor would be massive.”
The Big Cats face competition from BBL sides Sheffield Sharks and Brighton Bears, but Ryan believes Leopards have an advantage over their full-time rivals: “The different qualification rules in the two competitions mean that they would have to release one of their four Americans if they wanted to sign Dennis, we are only allowed to field two Americans at a time, but we can have four signed, and simply rotate them on a game-by-game basis.”
Whoever signs the 6′ 7″ Rodman will be relying on the department of employment making an exception to their normal qualification rules as Rodman retired from the NBA five years ago, but Ryan remains hopeful that he would be allowed to sign: “For any team to sign a player of Dennis Rodman’s class would be a massive boost to the game in this country. Hopefully we can be the ones to pull this off.”
LEOPARDS coach Jon Burnell has strengthened his squad ahead of Sunday’s National Cup final with the addition of guard/forward James Warwick.
The 6′ 6″ Hitchin-born player joins the Big Cats after three years in the USA. After a year at New Philadelphia High School in Ohio, Warwick went to Ashland College in the NCA Division Two before moving on to Grace & County Community College – spending a year at each college.
Warwick made his debut in Sunday’s BBL Trophy clash with Leicester Riders, but he needs no introduction to fans of the Big Cats having played in their Hosana Summer League team in each of the last two seasons. His last outing for Leopards, Warwick was joint top scorer with 12 points in their defeat against a Hosana Sporting Club side packed with BBL talent.
“It’s good to have James signing to add out our overall depth” said Leopards general manager Dave Ryan. “He’s proved during our summer league games that he will be an asset to us,
and we’re looking forward to James becoming an important member of the squad.”
In an unrelated move, Leopards have released forward Laurent Irish for disciplinary reasons.
LEOPARDS have added English forward Dave Jones to their roster as they look for England Basketball League success this season.
The 6′ 7″ Englishman has BBL experience with Leicester Riders where he won the 2001 play-off championship, and was a member of the 2004 EBL Division Two winning Worcester Wolves side.
The 27-year-old spent last season with Coventry Crusaders where he played alongside Leopards’ centre Troy Selvey.
Jones made his debut midway through the third period of Leopards’ defeat at Worthing Thunder on Saturday, and made an immediate impression with nine points.
Leopards’ coach Jon Burnell hopes that the three-point specialist will strengthen his side: “He’s a proved player at this level, and is another quality player” he said. “He’ll make a real difference for us, and although it was difficult to get him involved on Saturday, he will be a major plus for us.”
Jones will make his home debut when Leopards face London United at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, tip-off 4pm.
LEOPARDS REACH FOR THE SKYE
LEOPARDS have added point guard Skye Buck to their team as they look for success in the England Basketball League.
he 6′ 0″ Canadian joins the Big Cats after a successful college career at the University of Cariboo in British Columbia. Having helped his team reach the national college tournament in all four years he spent at college, Buck became the first guard from Cariboo to gain All-Canadian honours.
The 24-year-old averaged 15.4 points per game in his final season at college, along with over five assists and rebounds per game. Buck joined the Leopards on trial during their pre-season campaign and did enough to convince coach Jon Burnell to sign him: “He’s a true point guard, which will be positive for the team” he said . “He’s gone through his college career at the point, and been successful. I’m sure his signing will be positive for the team.”
Buck’s performances have helped the Leopards win their four pre-season games, including the Dagenham Mortgage Centre Trophy.
The Big Cats are now hoping that he will get his work permit in time to play in Saturday’s season opener against Reading Rockets, and the player is looking forward to his first season in professional basketball. “I’m pleased to be involved with Leopards organisation” he said. “It seems to be quality set-up and I’m looking forward to winning some trophies.”
ESSEX & Herts Leopards will continue their search for a quality player to complete their roster, despite missing out on Tomas Kersis.
The Lithuanian guard/forward played two pre-season games for the Big Cats, top scoring in both, but opted to join their EBL1 rivals Reading Rockets.
“It’s a blow not to sign Tomas” admitted general manager Dave Ryan, “we made Tomas a good offer, but he already knew several of the Rockets players and decided to play for them. Seeing Tomas line-up against us on Saturday will be disappointing, but we are still determined to strengthen out squad.”
Leopards have already added Sam Salter, Eroll Seaman and Skye Buck to their roster as they aim to collect some silverware this season, but Ryan and coach Burnell are determined to add an additional player to their squad: “We are much stronger than last season” said Ryan. “But we set out to recruit a third full-time player to work in our community scheme as we believe that is the way to move forward and genuinely challenge at the top of the league.”
With Leopards being limited to two import players, in line with FIBA regulations, the Big Cats’ third full-time player would need to hold a European passport.
ESSEX & Herts Leopards coach has strengthened his squad with the addition of two quality EBL players.
Guard Sam Salter and forward Errol Seaman have joined the Big Cats, and are expected to feature regularly in the Leopards heavy fixture list.
29-year-old Salter started season at London Capitals before moving across the city to join Kingston Wildcats. He was instrumental in the Wildcats gaining two victory against Leopards
last season, and led the EBL Division One in three-point shooting, draining 48.68 percent of his attempts.
With fellow guard Steve Ogunjimi returning to the Leopards, they now have the two leading long range shooters in the competition.
Seaman joins the Big Cats from National Cup winners Reading Rockets, having played for London United during the 2003/04 campaign. Both players have seem action in the BBL for Brighton Bears and London Towers, with Seaman having also played for Manchester Giants, while Salter has seen action with Leicester Riders and Birmingham Bullets.
The pair also have European experience, with Salter having played in the NEBL with Birmingham as well as in Finland for Hogfors, while Seaman played for Belgium side Avernas-Hannut.
Burnell is looking forward to working with both players, and believes they can help Leopards challenge for honours: “We went out to improve our squad, and although we aren’t finished, Sam and Errol are both proven at this level and above” he said. “They are the sort of players we are looking to bring to Leopards. Sam is a proven scorer, and one of the best shooting guards in the league, while Errol has played on a team that won something and reached the Championship final.
“He is a athletic and brings us some scoring inside the paint. He will compliment Troy (Selvey)”.
With Selvey, Ogunjimi, Brian Moore, Laurent Irish and Matt Eames all returning to Leopards, the Big Cats are still looking for a second American and one other starting five-quality player to complement their squad.
ESSEX & Herts Leopards take a break from summer close-season when they enter the Hosana Summer League on Saturday.
The Big Cats travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday evening to face Hosana Sporting Club in the quarter-final of Britain’s most prestigious summer tournament, This year’s competition is being played on a straight knock-out basis, with two games taking place on Saturday, followed by a final four weekend next week. The Big Cats are in action at 8pm, with South Coast facing Hackney two hours earlier. The winners of the two quarter-final games will be joined by holders, Westside, and the British Students’ team in the semi-final. Jon Burnell’s team will hope for a better result than when the sides met last summer, with HSC running out 86-78 winners.
Leopards are expected to field a mixture of last season’s team and prospective signings for next season. Among the new players on show for Leopards, who will be without American centre Troy Selvey, are likely to be Sam Salter, Erroll Seaman and Joe Perera. All three players have BBL experience with Brighton Bears, though at different times.
Seaman is one of the best English big men in the EBL Division One, and played for National Cup winners Reading Rockets last season. Salter proved to be a thorn in the Big Cats’ side last season when he played for both Kingston Wildcats and London Capitals, while Perera averaged over nine minutes per game in his 25 appearances for Brighton.
Coach Burnell is hoping to add all three players to his squad for the 2005/6 season, and is also talking to several other players – including an England international.
The Big Cats are also expected to announce the signing of a second American within the next fortnight.
ESSEX & Herts Leopards have added another key component to their side for the 2005/06 season with the re-signing for guard Steve Ogunjimi.
The 28-year-old joined the Big Cats in mid-January from BBL side London Towers having also gained extensive top-level experience with the old Leopards and Newcastle Eagles.
The signing of Ogunjimi proved pivotal for the Leopards last season as, following the departure of American point-guard Brandon Kephart, he stepped into Kephart’s spot to lead the Big Cats into the play-offs in their first EBL Division One season.
Leopards’ coach Jon Burnell is delighted with Ogunjimi’s return: “It would have been a pleasure to have Steve all of last season, but the way he performed after signing for us was excellent” he said. “He’s a very good player at this level and one of the best defenders in the EBL. He’s a strong player who makes things happen, and is willing to listen and run the team when necessary.
“To get Steve to commit to us this early is a real bonus, we know what we are getting and we can continue to build a team for next season.”
Ogunjimi is also relishing returning to the Leopards: “Before I signed in January my career was going backwards, but I really enjoyed the second half of the season” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing the whole season, and helping Leopards win some trophies.”
General manager Dave Ryan echoed Burnell’s delight at the return of fan-favourite Ogunjimi: “It’s great to have Steve back, and to commit so early” he said. “Steve signed for us because of the fans who brought Leopards back to life – he’s Leopards through and through. Without him, we would have been in real trouble after Brandon left, and he proved what a massive asset he is to Leopards.”
LEOPARDS coach Jon Burnell has announced his first signing for the 2005/06 season, with American centre Troy Selvey returning to the club.
The 6′ 7″ from Sacramento joined the Big Cats from fellow EBL Division One side Coventry Crusaders in mid-January, and was an immediate hit with Burnell’s team.
He either led, or jointly led, Leopards scoring in four of his first five games, and has proved to be one of the EBL’s top big-men. He led the league in blocked shots, averaging two per game, and also finished seventh in rebounding with 9.14 per game.
Burnell was pleased that Selvey had agreed to return to the Big Cats: “I think Troy’s proved that he’s one of the best big men in the league, and It’s great that he’s returning” he said. “There are not many big men of Troy’s caliber in the EBL, and him returning is a good starting point for next season.
“He has things to work on over the summer, but I know he is prepared to put that work in.”
Selvey was also delighted to be returning to the Leopards: “I’m really pleased to be returning, and it’s good to get things sorted out so early” he said.
“I can now work on my game during the summer, and I hope to be in really good shape to come back next season and help Leopards win some trophies.”
As part of his contract with the Big Cats, Selvey will continue to work for the Leopards’ community programme. Last season he coached Ware’s Chauncey School to the Herts Schools’ Cup final for the first time, and he is expected to increase his work-load at that school next season, coaching both their boys’ and girls’ teams at several different age groups.
ESSEX & Herts Leopards have announced the re-appointment of coach Jon Burnell for the 2005/06 season.
Having coached predecessors Ware Rebels for most of the 2003/04 season, Burnell took up the reigns at the new club last summer, and lead them to eighth place in the EBL Division One and a place in the play-offs.
A poor start to the league season ended the Big Cats hopes of making a challenge for league honours, but the 36-year-old is looking forward to helping the club move up the table next season
“I’m delighted to be coming back to coach, and I’m really looking forward to it” he said. “We know what the benchmark is to be a top four team, and to be competitive every week. If we are around that area and compete in ever game, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win stuff.”
Burnell knows that his team will need some rebuilding if they are to challenge at the top of the league: “I’ve identified some players that I think will really strengthen the Leopards team” he said. “We will need to make some changes, because you can’t finish eighth and think that just adding one player will make a real difference.
“It’s up to me to get the right mix of players, and I’ll be watching some players during the closing stages of the season to see if they may fit it.”
Leopards general manager Dave Ryan was pleased to have secured the services of Burnell: “We’re delighted to have Jon back as head coach” he said. “We all learnt a lot last season, and we hope to build on it next year. Things were very rushed last year, but with more time, and better planning, we’re confident we can give the Leopards fans a successful team.”
Essex & Herts Leopards 73 (21,40,65)
Reading Rockets 89 (26,31,56)
A FOURTH period collapse saw Leopards slip to defeat in their opening EBL Trophy game at Goresbrook on Saturday. The Big Cats had looked in control of the game, leading by 11 at the final break, but ran out of steam to be outscored 35-8 in the last quarter.
It was a result that left Leopards coach Jon Burnell disappointed, but also encouraged: “We clearly need to work our fitness” he said. “But we proved that we can compete with one of the best sides in the league. We have two weeks before our next Trophy game, and we’ll be working hard to ensure that we are fitter.”
To rub salt into Leopards’ wounds, it was Lithuanian guard/forward Tom Kersis, who they had tried to sign the previous week, who did most of the damage for Reading, draining 25 second half points after being held to five at half-time.
American centre Troy Selvey was in fine form the hosts in the first quarter, hitting their first four points, and reaching the first break with a personal tally of 13. Selvey’s second basket of the night gave Leopards their only lead of the first period, and the visitors opened a nine point lead with a minute remaining before a Steve Ogunjimi three and a lay-up and a single free-throw from Selvey cut the lead to 26-21.
The second period saw Leopards take a firm grip on the game, limiting the big spending Rockets to just five points. Sam Salter opened the scoring with a pair of free-throws, and despite
Burnell picking up a technical foul after the refs failed to notice Selvey being fouled under basket, a trey from Salter gave Leopards their first lead from the early stages.
With the scoring now shared around and some tough defence, Leopards took control, and Laurent Irish made amends for an earlier blown dunk when he converted a great assist from Ogunjimi to send the hosts into the locker room with a nine point lead.
Neither side were able to score more than four successive points in the third period, but Leopards remained composed, and a pair scores from Skye Buck split by a Salter three send the Big Cats into the final break ahead by 11.
The visitors opened the final period strongly, and with seven foot tall James Cook scoring five points, Reading scored 10 straight points to virtually wipe out Leopards’ lead before Burnell called a time-out.
Cook added another basket to give Reading the lead for the first time since early in the second period, but scores from Errol Seaman and a try from Buck put the home side up by four. A 5-0 run from Reading was ended by a Selvey basket with four minutes remaining, but that was as good as it got for the Big Cats. Buck fouled out shortly afterwards, and the hosts scored only one more point, as Kersis drained 12 points to lead his side to victory and spoil the Leopards’ Goresbrook debut.
Leopards: T Selvey 20, S Ogunjimi 13, E Seaman 13, L Irish 10, S Buck 9, S Salter 8, M Eames, R Lloyd (DNP), B Moore (DNP), E Gregory (DNP)
Worthing Thunder 103 (30,58,81)
Essex & Herts Leopards 83 (15,33,62)
A POOR display saw the Big Cats crash to a heavy defeat in the EBL Trophy on the South Coast, on Saturday.
A lacklustre defensive display saw Leopards unable to prevent American import Alfredo Ott launching a barrage of threes as the home side effectively wrapped up the victory by half-time.
Jon Burnell’s team were not helped as the visiting coach pick up one of the three technical fouls Leopards collected on the evening, and the early barrage of T’s helped Worthing open a 30 point lead late in the second period.
Errol Seaman led the Leopards’ scoring with 20 points, while Steve Ogunjimi added 18 and six assists.
After Laurent Irish had missed two free-throws in the opening minute, and Big Cats were on level terms for only two minutes, with Ott answering Skye Buck’s game-tying score with a three to give Worthing a fourth minute lead they were to never relinquish. Ott drained four treys in the first quarter alone, and although Sam Salter got in on the act with a three, Thunder reached the first break with a 15 point lead.
Ogunjimi opened the second period with a score off Salter’s assist, but any thoughts of a comeback were quickly ended as Worthing added 10 unanswered points in two minutes. From then on there was little doubt that big-spending Worthing would be picking up the victory.
Technical fouls on Irish and Burnell saw Thunder go 55-25 up with 2:33 on the clock, and despite eight points for Ogunjimi in the period, Leopards trailed by 25 at half-time.
To their credit, Leopards did not fold during the second half, and with Buck scoring a pair of threes in a ten-point third period, and Seaman adding eight they cut the lead to 19 with three minutes of the quarter remaining, and kept that margin at the final break.
The final period was of little consequence, though new signing Dave Jones looking useful with a nine point haul, but Burnell will know that his side has to improve considerably if they are to challenge for honours this season.
Leopards: E Seaman 20, S Ogunjimi 18, S Buck 14, T Selvey 11, D Jones 9, S Salter 5, L Irish 4, M Eames 2, R Lloyd, E Gregory (DNP)
Reading Rockets 89 (19,38,56)
Essex & Herts Leopards 62 (16,27,37)
LEOPARDS showed the downside of their Jekyll and Hyde character as they suffered a heavy EBL Trophy defeat at Reading Rockets, on Saturday.
The Big Cats were a little unlucky to be trailing by 11 at half-time, but a poor second half performance saw them heavily beaten by the Berkshire side for the second time this season. Four of the visiting players scored in double figures, but with Laurent Irish leading the way on 13, Jon Burnell’s team never had enough fire-power against a side who are arguably favourites to win the league this season.
Steve Ogunjimi scored four of the first six points for Leopards and provided an assist for Troy Selvey, but the shooting guard was forced to sit out the final six minutes of the period after picking up two offensive fouls.
A jump-shot from Irish gave Leopards 10-4 lead, but with the visitors struggling to control 6′ 11″ Paul Tonkovich in the paint, Rockets hit back with nine unanswered points to take a 13-10 lead. Back-to-back three-pointers from Sam Salter saw Leopards’ lead restored , before scores from Tomas Kersis and Tonkovich saw the hosts regain the advantage to lead by three at the first break.
With Roger Lloyd missing a pair of free-throws, the Big Cats started the second period slowly with only Errol Seaman, who had picked up six first period rebounds, the only Leopard on the scoreboard as Rockets opened with a 9-4 run.
Scores from Lloyd and Irish finally got the visitors going, but although Ogunjimi took the margin back into single, back-to-back scores from Kersis sent Leopards into the locker room trailing 38-27.
Although Seaman continued to impress at both ends of the floor, a low scoring third period proved to be the end of Leopards’ hopes as they 18-10, with only three points scored in the first five minutes, to trail by 19 at the final break.
With Leopards already needing a miracle to qualify for the semi-finals, the fourth period proved to be little more than garbage time. Ogunjimi and Irish each scoring six and Seaman increasing his personal tally by four to 12, and collected three more boards to finish with 13 – but coach Burnell will know that his side need to considerably improve if his aims of a top four finish are to be achieved.
Leopards: L Irish (13), S Ogunjimi (12), E Seaman (12), S Salter (12), S Buck (4), T Selvey (4), R Lloyd (3), M Eames (2), D Jones, E Gregory (DNP).
Essex & Herts Leopards 71 (20,31,56)
Worthing Thunder 64 (16,29,41)
Leopards survived a late Thunder fight-back as they finished their EBL Trophy campaign with a victory, on Saturday.
Steve Ogunjimi led the Big Cats’ scoring with 19 points as Jon Burnell’s side ended Worthing’s chances of progressing to the semi-final.
With his side unable to qualify for the last four, Burnell opted to experiment, and begun the game with a three-guard line-up, giving Sam Salter his first start of the season in place of Laurent Irish. An even first period saw the sides tied at 8-8 after five minutes, but with Ogunjimi hitting ten points despite missing three free-throws, the home side gradually edged ahead, and an Ogunjimi dunk with 19 seconds of the quarter remaining sent Leopards into the first break with a 20-16 lead.
Scores from Rani Malik and Stephen Gayle saw Worthing level the score, but a pair of Troy Selvey baskets restored the home side’s advantage. Steve Vear and Pat Bates scored to put the hosts on level terms again before a single Errol Seaman free-throw launched an 8-1 run which put Leopards into a lead they were to never relinquish. Captain Matt Eames, Seaman and Selvey all scored for the Big Cats, and they went into the locker room with an eight-point half-time advantage after Sky Buck hit a huge three two seconds before the buzzer.
Selvey hit the first seven Leopards’ points of the second half as the Big Cats maintained their double-digit lead. A dunk from Selvey launched the 9-0 Leopards run, which featured an Ogunjimi three and the rarity of a pair of the successful free-throws from Roger Lloyd, and despite four Worthing points to close out the quarter, the Big Cats reached the final break with a 15 point lead.
Buck launched the fourth period with second trey of the night, and scores from Selvey and Seaman extended Leopards’ lead to 23, at 64-41 with seven minutes on the clock.
The home side noticeably relaxed, allowing Thunder to scored nine unanswered points, before Burnell called a time-out with 4:06 on the clock, and Salter ended the run with a three from Buck’s assist. That proved to be only a temporary respite for the home side, as they were outscored 14-4, but with a comfortable lead, the Leopards held on to gain revenge for the 20-point hammering they had suffered on the south at the start of October.
Leopards: S Ogunjimi (19), T Selvey (18), S Salter (11), S Buck (10), E Seaman (9), R Lloyd (2), M Eames (2), D Jones, L Irish, E Gregory (DNP)
Essex & Herts Leopards 85 (25,52,65) Worcester Wolves 79 (18,37,61)
LEOPARDS set themselves up perfectly for Saturday’s National Cup semi-final at Goresbrook by beating Worcester Wolves 85-79 in a dress rehearsal at Brentwood.
Led by a 29-point haul from Troy Selvey, the Big Cats became the first side to defeat Wolves, after Josh Cooprider’s team had opened the season with 11 straight victories.
Sam Salter added a season-high 26 points as Leopards led for most of the game – though it was not until the final minute before they sealed victory in a tense game. After scoring the opening points through Andy Harper, Wolves’ only other lead came with 2:45 of the first period remaining when Ty Shaw converted two free-throws.
Selvey levelled the opening score from the foul-line before putting Leopards ahead, and the lead grew to 7-2 after a Dave Jones trey. Five straight Sam Salter points kept Leopards ahead, but a treys from Harper Lithuanian Valdas Urbonavicius put Wolves into the lead for the second and final time.
Selvey again replied before birthday-boy Roger Lloyd increased the lead with a dunk, and the margin was taken out to five at the first break when Demetrice Williams stole the ball and scored with five seconds remaining Slevey scored the first five points on the second period, but with Robert Clarke scoring well at the other end, Wolves were within a point at the midway stage of the period.
However, 11 unanswered points from the home put them in charge as Salter added ten points in three minutes, and an Errol Seaman two seconds before the end sent Leopards into the locker room with a 52-39 advantage.
Wolves fought back after the break, scoring the first eight points of the second half, before Selvey broke the run, and it took a Salter three-pointer to send the Big Cats into the final period with a 65-61 lead.
Leopards opened the fourth quarter with a 10-4 run, despite Steve Ogunjimi continuing to struggle offensively.
Ben Potts closed the game with a trey, but Ty Shaw did not help his side’s cause when he picked up a technical foul , and four straight points from Salter plus an Ogunjimi two put Leopards 83-75 ahead.
A pair of Matt Collins free-throws made in 83-77, but Leopards held their nerve to record a morale-boosting win that should send them into Saturday’s clash in a positive mood.
Leopards: T Selvey 29, S Salter 26, E Seaman 8, D Jones 8, D Williams 7, S Ogunjimi 4, R Lloyd 4, M Eames (DNP), E Gregory (DNP), B Moore (DNP)
LEOPARDS boss Jon Burnell is keeping his feet firmly on the ground after his side became the first team to defeat Worcester Wolves this season.
The Big Cats won the dress rehearsal for Saturday’s National Cup semi-final 85-79, but Burnell refused to get carried away with the victory:
“I’ve expected us to produce a performance like this for a long time” he said. “The only thing that really impressed me was how we reacted when they put together a run in the third period.
“We proved that if you stay doing the things that got you in a good position to start with, you can keep your nose in front.”
Burnell admitted to being impressed with the Wolves side who had won their first 11 games this season: “They were everything I expected them to be” he said. “They have good balance, their shooting guard Harper was sharp, and I was very impressed with him.
“Winning on Sunday probably makes it harder for us in the semi-final, as they will have something to prove this week.”
Burnell had praise for his centre Troy Selvey , and was pleased with the way his side bounced back after losing at Manchester on Saturday. “I’m proud of how Troy played at the weekend, he’s started to produce the kind of form we know he’s capable of. It’s no drama losing at Coventry, it’s tough to win at places like that. It’s different to going to places like Coventry and not winning there.”
Magic Wobble but Win.
Manchester Magic: 93 Essex and Herts Leopards: 81
The Leopards outfit have made quite a name for themselves since they joined this Division of the EBBA. And they opened thia game strongly, especially with Troy Selvey signalling his intention of causing the Magic all sorts of problems from close in.. After a productive spell very early on, Wade Henninger went to the Magic’s bench, but soon returned to see his fellow-American Eliot Goren ease his team into a 6 point lead at the end of the quarter.
With coach Jeff Jones’ second string playing most of the second quarter, the Magic were still looking in control, despite leading by only 3 points at half-time.
By good defence, strong running and good inside shooting , the Leopards had a good third quarter and they were 1 point ahead going into the last.
In the last quarter, the home fans were wondering if Jones had miscalculated, as the Leopards came back strongly to lead by 3 with 8 minutes to go. Young Matt Williams had an excellent game for the Magic, defending well and always managing to be in the right place at the right time. The whole Magic team played with plenty of enthusiasm and commitment throughout the game to subdue very dangerous opponents. As the Leopards got into serious foul trouble, their challenge faded and the Magic ended the game as comfortable winners. The Magic have now managed to beat two very strong teams in succession and the fans’ expectations are high. They will have to wait until Saturday, 26th November, for the next home game, when the visitors are Nottingham Knights.
Magic top Scorers: Matt Hogarth: 26 Eliot Goren: 21 Wade Henninger: 16 Delme Herriman: 8
Reading Rockets 66 (16,32,47,53) Essex & Herts Leopards 65 (19,29,50,53)
LEOPARDS’ hopes of striking a physcological blow ahead of Sunday’s National Cup final were ended in an over-time thriller at Loddon Valley on Saturday.
In a game which saw them outstanding defensive play from both teams, the Big Cats were left to look back on starting guards Demetrice Williams and Sam Salter both fouling out. The visitors did not help themselves, however, scoring just eight of their 19 free-throws, and could have had the game wrapped up before the extra period.
For the disappointment of seeing their dismal away form continue, the performance against a side who had comfortably beaten them twice this season, should have given the Big Cats a boost prior to this weeks’ showdown at the NIA.
An early indication of the trouble to follow came when Errol Seaman picked up his foul of the game after just three minutes, but the home side also suffered as a clearly injured Tomas Kersis managed to collect three fouls in the opening five minutes, and missed most of the game after picking up a second knee injury.
A Dave Jones three leveled the score at 7-7 midway through the first period, and six points from Williams helped keep the Big Cats in touch before a late pair of assists from Steve Ogunjimi set up Troy Selvey and Roger Lloyd to send Leopards into the first break with a three point lead. Another Ogunjimi assist saw Seaman extend that lead to five, but a 16-4 burst from the home side, which saw only Selvey score for Leopards during a seven minute spell saw Rockets open a seven point lead, before single points from Seaman and Selvey cut the deficit to five at half-time.
Leopards trailed for much of the third period, but eight points from Selvey and six apiece from Williams and Seaman kept them in touch going into the final minute of the quarter when a steal and lay-up from Williams leveled the score. Selvey then scored to give the Big Cats their first lead for 18 minutes before a steal and three-pointer from Brian Moore sent the visitors into the fourth period with a three point lead.
The final period of regulation time proved to be a defensive masterclass from both sides. EJ Harrison cut Leopards’ lead to one point in the opening minute, but it took over five minutes before either side troubled the scorers again when Selvey scored with a put-back. Richard Wellings cut the Leopards lead back to one with 3:22 remaining, and there was another two minute scoreless spell before Seaman converted one of two foul shots.
A traveling call on Ogunjimi with 30 seconds remaining, Paul Tonkovich leveled the score with 12 seconds remaining, and Leopards were unable to score with the final play of the fourth period as the game went into overtime for the first time in their history.
Harrison opened the overtime scoring with a single free-throw before Salter sunk at three to put Leopards back in the lead. Harrison again netted to level the score, and Salter became the first Leopard to foul out with 3:30 on the clock. Reading opened a four-point lead as Peder Madsen scored from the foul line and Harrison dropped a three.
Back-to-back scored from Seaman, split by a pair of Madsen free-throws, kept Leopards in touch before Williams fouled out.
Lloyd Gardener converted both foul shots after Williams’ foul, leaving Leopards trailing by four with 23.4 seconds on the clock. Another Jones three cut that margin to one, but Gardner was again perfect from the line as Leopards were forced to foul to stop the clock.
With 13.4 seconds remaining, the visitors needed a three to send the game into a second overtime period, but Rockets did well to block the outside shot, with Selvey eventually scoring under the basket to leave his side deflated.
Leopards: T Selvey 18, E Seaman 17, D Williams 12, S Salter 7, D Jones 6, B Moore 3, R Lloyd 2, S Ogunjimi, M Eames (DNP), J Warwick (DNP), E Gregory (DNP)
London Capitals 73 (24,41,48) Essex & Herts Leopards 95 (24,40,30)
A DOMINANT second half performance saw the Big Cats record their first away league win of the season, on Saturday.
Led by fine performances from American duo Demetrice Williams and Troy Selvey, Jon Burnell’s side took control during the third period to run out comfortable winners. Selvey finished as top scorer with 28 points and ten rebounds, while Williams racked up a fine 25 points and an incredible 14 boards.
A single Selvey free-throw gave Leopards the lead after six seconds, but that was as good as it got in first period for the visitors as they produced a sluggish performance. Capitals, who went into the game bottom of the table, saw their lead grow to nine with two minutes of the period after a basket from American K Robins, and it took another drive to the basket from Williams to cut the hosts’ lead to seven at the first break.
Gariba opened the second with a lay-up to take the lead back to nine, but a Brian Moore three launched a steady comeback for the Big Cats. The home side clearly could not cope with the electrifying pace of Williams and five straight points from the point guard saw Capitals’ lead cut to one before acting coach Milek Jivens called a time-out.
The move worked as Capitals went on a 6-0 run, but four successful Selvey free-throws plus an “and-one” from Steve Ogunjimi tied the score at 38. A Robins free-throw and a Gariba dunk took the lead out to three as Errol Seaman was forced to sit down on three fouls, but his replacement Roger Lloyd put his name on the scoresheet in the dying seconds to send the
visitors into the locker room trailing by a point.
Whatever Burnell said during the break clearly worked as Leopards opened the second half with a 20-2 run to take control of the game. Selvey launched the run with five straight points, before Sam Salter sunk a three-pointer off Williams’ assist. Williams was next in the act with three consecutive baskets, before put-backs from Ogunjimi and Matt Eames, plus a Williams lay-up gave Leopards a 60-43 lead at the midway point of the period.
Coach Burnell was able to rest his starting five during the final three minutes of the period, but the visitors stretched their lead with an “and-one” from Moore and steal and dunk from Lloyd as they went into the final break with a 22-point lead.
To be fair to the home side, they did not go down without a fight, and an incredible four point play from the impressive McCue as he drained a three as he was knocked over by Williams, saw them score ten unanswered points, with Nyako and Blaszckyk also hitting treys. The run was ended with four successful Selvey free-throws, and the visitors never looked in trouble again.
Salter ended a disappointing shooting night with seven points in three minutes, while James Warwick scored his first points for the Big Cats as they wrapped up their third league win of the season.
Leopards: T Selvey 28, D Williams 25, S Ogunjimi 11, S Salter 10, R Lloyd 6, B Moore 6, E Seaman 4, J Warwick 3, D Jones, E Gregory.
Essex & Herts Leopards 84 (18,48,66)
Worthing Thunder 92 (23,45,67)
SAM Salter’s best offensive performance of the season was not enough to prevent the Big Cats slipping to defeat at the Brentwood Centre, on Sunday.
Salter led the Leopards scoring for the first time with 24 points, but a disappointing final period saw Thunder return to the south coast with the EBL points.
The Big Cats’ big men again suffered from foul trouble in an entertaining game in front of the new-look Leopards’ largest ever home crowd. The home side started strongly as a pair of Salter threes and a trey from Demetrice Williams saw them open a 13-4 lead. However, Thunder hit back with 12 straight points, before Troy Selvey broke the run off a Steve Ogunjimi assist. With Williams picking up two fouls, only Selvey was able to get on the scoresheet during the final three minutes of the period, and the visitors went into the first break with a five point lead.
The second quarter proved to be Leopards’ strongest period of the game, and Salter and Errol Seaman each scored ten points, as they outscored Worthing 30-22 to lead by three at half-time. A Salter try levelled the score at 25 after two minutes, but four points from Pat Bates and Steve Gayle helped the helped Worthing score 12 unanswered points. Seaman broke the run, and Leopards finished the half strongly with Seaman adding a further four points and Williams converting an “and-one” opportunity to send Leopards into the locker room with the lead.
A tight third period saw both Seaman and Troy Selvey pick up their fourth fouls, but with Steve Ogunjimi and Salter both draining from long range, and Williams collecting half of his team-high ten rebounds, the Leopards went into the final break with a one point deficit.
Worthing opened the final period with an 8-2 run as Roger Lloyd missed a pair of free-throws. Coach Jon Burnell brought Selvey and Ogunjimi, who were both in foul trouble, back into the action, and three points from Seaman plus Salter’s sixth trey of the game saw the lead cut to five. However, that was as close as the Big Cats came, as Selvey fouled out with 1:49 remaining. Williams and Ogunjimi did manage to convert their free-throws, which was an improvement after Leopards had scored just ten from their 19 shots from the charity stripe prior to that, but with Aldredo Ott scoring ten of his 13 points in the final period Leopards slipped to their first home league loss of the season.
Leopards: S Salter 24, D Williams 18, T Selvey 16, E Seaman 15, S Ogunjimi 9, R Lloyd 2, M Eames, D Jones, B Moore, E Gregory (DNP), J Warwick (DNP)
Teesside Mohawks 70 (18,35,58)
Essex & Herts Leopards 92 (26,45,67)
LEOPARDS rounded off 2005 with a second successive away victory as they returned from their longest trip of the season with a comfortable win.
Errol Seaman led the Big Cats’ scoring for the fist time since joining the club in the summer, as he finished with 22 points. The visitors had to do without Troy Selvey for long periods of the game due to foul trouble, but the Sacramento-born centre still added 16 points, with point-guard Demetrice Williams scoring 18.
7′ 6″ giant Neil Fingleton opened the scoring for Mohawks, and their lead was doubled through Harold Apanzo, but once Leopards were off the mark through Seaman they were quickly in their stride. Four points from Williams gave Leopards the lead with 7:12 on the clock, and the visitors were never to trail again. However, they saw Selvey sit down just after Williams had given them lead after he picked up his second foul of the game on Fingleton. Seaman and Williams scored four apiece as the Big Cats score nine unanswered points, and coach Jon Burnell was able to give nine of his 11-player roster court time in the period as they reached the first break with an eight point lead.
Brian Moore became the tenth Leopard to play in the opening minute of the second period, and quarter proved to be an even one as Leopards just shaded it 19-17 to taken a ten point lead into the locker room as Seaman added six points to his first period tally of ten.
Mohawks managed to reduce the Leopards’ lead to seven by the midway point of the third period, but with Moore and Sam Salter both sinking treys in a 10-2 run, the Big Cats looked to have sewn the game up as they took a 65-47 lead. However, Teesside hit back with a 10-2 run of their own to go into the final break trailing by nine.
After sitting out the whole of the third period, Selvey marked his return to the action with the first score of the fourth. An 8-0 run midway through the period effectively sealed things for the Big Cats, but there was still time for recent signing James Warwick to convert an “and-one” before Ed Gregory wrapped things up with a buzzer-beating three to send the Leopards home happy.
Leopards: E Seaman 22, D Williams 18, T Selvey 16, S Salter 12, S Ogunjimi 9, D Jones 6, B Moore 3, E Gregory 3, J Warwick 3, M Eames 2, R Lloyd.
King’s Lynn Fury 63 (17,28,39)
Essex & Herts Leopards 97 (25,55,71)
LEOPARDS made it six wins on the bounce as they romped to a club-record 34-point victory in Norfolk, on Sunday. In a game that Leopards led from tip to buzzer, Troy Selvey led all scorers with a 25 point haul as they moved up to fifth place in the EBL Division One.
For the second successive Sunday, all 11 Leopards players were on the scoresheet but once again their celebrations were muted by an ejection. Point-guard Demetrice Williams was dismissed four minutes into the third period for an offensive foul. The American now faces a suspension, but the Big Cats plan to appeal, and have received support from Fury as they attempt to get the decision overturned.
Selvey scored five of the first six points as Leopards held the hosts scoreless for the first three minutes, and with Williams adding nine first period points, basement side Fury were never able to cope with the speed of the visitors three-guard line-up.
A Dave Jones trey made it 24-10 in the visitors’ favour with 90 seconds of the first period remaining, but a bizarre intentional foul followed by a technical on Roger Lloyd helped the home side reduce the arrears to eight at the first break.
A pair of baskets from Fury coach James Bamfield halved Leopards’ lead in the opening minute of the second period, but from there on it was all Leopards as they blasted the hosts with a barrage of three-pointers. Brian Moore and Williams both hit a pair of treys, and Jones drained another as Leopards hit the hosts with 14-2 and 16-0 runs to take the lead out to 30, and although Bamfield scored a three-pointer with the last shot of the half, Leopards reached half time with the game effectively sewn up at 55-28.
Baskets from Selvey and Sam Salter took the margin to 29 before Williams’ ejection took the gloss off a dominant performance. Selvey went on to score a total of ten points in the period, as Leopards extended their lead by five to 71-39 at the final break.
Fury opened the fourth period with seven straight points, but Steve Ogunjimi added seven of his own, and scores from Matt Eames, James Warwick and Ed Gregory ensured that all the Leopards were on the scoresheet to complete a fine performance and a second successive weekend double.
Essex & Herts Leopards 81 (24,40,60)
Reading Rockets 72 (24,39,54)
ERROL Seaman was in superb form as Leopards handed Reading Rockets’ their first league defeat of the season, as Goresbrook on Saturday.
Seaman finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and a block to lead the Big Cats to their fifth straight victory, and repeat their National Cup final victory against Rockets.
Demetrice Williams (24) and Troy Selvey (14) also scored well for the home side, but the win was marred by the ejection of guard Steve Ogunjimi with under a second remaining after disputing a call with the referee.
After Reading had opened the scoring through James Cook, Leopards took the initiative with a pair of Selvey scores and three-pointers from Williams and Dave Jones.
Back-to-back treys from Williams saw Leopards extend their lead to 18-8 with six minutes gone, but with Selvey and Sam Salter both picking up two fouls, the visitors fought back, and a 14-4 run saw them grab the lead with 90 seconds of the first period remaining, before scores from Seaman and Williams leveled things at the first break.
The game looked to be slipping away from Leopards as the visitors opened the second period with 10 unanswered points, EJ Harrison and Dan Sandall each scoring five points.
Roger Lloyd broke the run, and as Leopards tightened up their defence a second Lloyd basket plus an Ogunjimi trey helped the Big Cats level the score before taking a one point lead thanks to a James Warwick free-throw.
A Peder Madsen free-throw and a basket from former Leopard Lloyd Gardner gave Rockets a two-point advantage, but a trey from Brian Moore sent Leopards into the locker room with a one-point lead.
Back-to-back baskets from Williams kept Leopards ahead in the early stages of the second half, but when the American point guard was clattered in the paint and Jon Burnell collected a technical foul after the incident was ignored by the referees.
Harrison converted the free-throws and also scored from the inbound, but a score from Seaman and a Jones three restored Leopards’ lead, and although Reading twice leveled the score, the visitors never led again.
A double foul called on Roger Lloyd and Paul Tonokovich caused Rockets more problems for the visitors’ big man as he was forced to sit down on his fourth foul, and although Sam Salter picked up his fourth foul for the home side, four points from Selvey sent Leopards into the final break with a six point lead.
Tonkovich halved deficit with an and-one to open the four quarter, but after Brian Moore had drained a three, former Rocket Seaman took the game over with all of Leopards’ points in a 9-3 which put them in control at 75-60 with three minutes remaining.
Selvey and then Seaman extended the lead, and although Tonkovich scored all the Rockets’ points in an 11-2 run, including four foul shots after Ogunjimi’s ejection, to cut the lead, but the Big Cats held on to wrap up another fine victory.
Leopards: D Williams 24, E Seaman 22, T Selvey 14, B Moore 8, R Lloyd 6, D Jones 3, S Ogunjimi 3, J Warwick 1, M Eames, S Salter, E Gregory.
Essex & Herts Leopards 108 (15,44.79)
Coventry Crusaders 83 (31,48,61)
LEOPARDS completed a perfect January as they wrapped up their seventh successive victory, at Goresbrook on Sunday.
However it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests, with the Big Cats forced to fight back from a 18-point deficit during the first period, before taking control with a dominant second half display. The win was Leopards’ successive success at Goresbrook and completed a six-game winning month – the first time Jon Burnell’s side have achieved the feat.
Demetrice Williams led the way for the home side with 26 points as all of the Leopards’ starters scored in double figures as the Big Cats avenged the 100-91 defeat at Coventry on the opening day of the season, and ensured that they have the head-to-head tiebreaker with Crusaders if the two clubs finish level on wins.
Scott Neely who had caused Leopards so much pain with a 40-point haul at the Coventry Sportscentre was held scoreless on the night as the final three quarters saw the home side again produce some stifling defence.
Although Errol Seaman opened the scoring for Leopards, the first quarter proved to be a dismal one for the home fans as Crusaders rained in five three-pointers. Back-to-back treys from Roberts, Jeremiah Roberts and Sam Oatman saw the Crusaders lead grow to 20-7, and although Brian Moore stopped some of the rot with a pair of threes, Hamlet scored a late jump shot and Roger Lloyd missed a pair of free-throws as the visitors led 31-15 at the first break.
Whatever coach Burnell said during the break, it certainly worked. Leopards’ James Warwick and
Laventure exchanged threes, before a 13-3 run from the Leopards cut the lead to 37-33 with 4:22 on the clock. Troy Selvey scored six points in the run, and provided an assist for Seaman who hit five in the tear to put Leopards back into the game. The two teams exchanged basket for the remainder of the period, with shooting guards Steve Ogunjimi and Sam Salter both hitting a pair of baskets as Leopards went into the locker room trailing by four.
Salter’s three two minutes into the second half cut the deficit to one before Williams also sunk a try to give Leopards the lead for the first time.
A pair of Roberts free-throws level the score at 52, but Salter drained back-to-back threes off Williams assists, and Leopards never trailed again. Once Coventry fell behind, they seemed to lose all discipline, and five points from both Seaman and Salter put the Big Cats in complete control as they effectively wrapped things up at 79-61.
With Leopards needing to win by ten to seal the series win against Coventry, the Big Cats never took their foot off the pedal during the fourth quarter, steadily building the lead.
Williams led the way with 12 points and Ogunjimi chipped in with seven during the period as the Big Cats completed a 43-point swing to move back to fifth in the table.
Leopards: D Williams 24, E Seaman 19, S Salter 18, S Ogunjimi 17, T Selvey 13, B Moore 6, D Jones 3, J Warwick 3, R Lloyd 2, E Gregory 1, M Eames (DNP)
Worthing Thunder 122 (25,52,77,
Essex & Herts Leopards 99 (25,52,87)
A DISMAL run at the start of the third quarter cost Leopards dearly as their seven game winning run came to an end, on Saturday.
The Big Cats were outscored 20-2 during a manic three minute spell, and they were never able to make up the deficit against the joint league leaders.
The run was in direct contrast to the first half, where the sides had exchanged baskets in the high-scoring encounter.
The visitors were given an early indication of the threat Alfredo Ott would present as he scored Thunder’s first five points, but five points from Sam Salter off a pair of Demetrice Williams assists saw Leopards take their first lead at 8-7.
The teams exchanged points, with Troy Selvey proving unstoppable in the paint, and although Worthing went on a 7-2 run to lead by five, a Selvey put-back and a three-pointer from Dave Jones sent them into the first break tied at 25-25.
The second period continued in the same fashion, with Selvey scoring Leopards first six points as the teams remained deadlocked at 31-31 after three minutes. Another trey from Salter plus three-from-four foul shooting by James Warwick and a Dave Jones jump-shot kept level at 41 by the midway stage of the period, but Leopards suffered a blow when Selvey picked up his third foul, and was forced to sit down for the final 3:44 of the half.
A Salter basket off Errol Seaman’s assist and a Jones three-pointer gave Leopards what proved to be their biggest lead of the game at 49-45, but despite a free-throw and a put-back by Roger Lloyd, a later score from Pat Bates sent the two teams in level at the break.
Seaman restored the visitors’ lead with the first score of the second half, but when Selvey returned to the bench after collecting his fourth foul, things rapidly deteriorated for the Big Cats.
Ott converted the bonus shot off Selvey’s foul, and Steven Gayle also scored a pair of “and-ones” as Salter joined Selvey on four fouls. After Lloyd had been T’d after an altercation with Okolie Ogbana, the run was finally ended by a score from Jones, but with the home side leading by 16, the damage had been done.
Worthing’s American forward Jonathan Woods also collected a technical foul, and treys from Jones and Brian Moore saw the lead cut to 11. A pair of free-throws from Ogbana saw the lead go back up to 14, but a pair of Jones baskets and a Williams score saw the Worthing lead cut to ten at the final break.
Any chances of a comeback were effectively ended seven seconds into the final period, as a foul call on Tom Christie – making his comeback after a year with the British Rowing Team – saw coach Jon Burnell receive a technical foul, and with Ott converting three of the free-throws and scoring on the inbounds, Thunder’s lead went up to 15.
The Big Cats never got within ten again, despite Williams adding 12 points to take his tally to a club record 33, as Selvey and Moore both fouled out. Salter joined the pair on the bench after collecting the game’s fourth technical foul for disputing Moore’s fifth foul, as Leopards saw their winning streak come to an abrupt end.
Leopards: D Williams 3, T Selvey 22, D Jones 11, E Seaman 10, S Salter 10, B Moore 3, J Warwick 3, R Lloyd 3, T Christie 3, E Gregory 1, M Eames.
Essex & Herts Leopards 77 (21,39,58)
Manchester Magic 81 (14,33,60)
A POOR final 15 minutes saw Leopards slip to their first defeat at Goresbrook since September, on Saturday.
The Big Cats had looked set for victory against a Magic side lying one place behind them in the EBL Division One as they led by eight points at the midway stage of the third period before being outscore 33-21 in the final stages. Troy Selvey led the Big Cats with 28 points, but it was the performance of England international Delme Herriman who kept the visitors in the game with 20 first half points before being restricted to two after the break.
A tight first period saw “and-ones” from Selvey and Brian Moore plus an Errol Seaman basket helped keep them level after six minutes. Four straight points from Selvey followed by as many from Seaman saw Leopards open a six point lead, and a three-pointer from Dave Jones sent the Big Cats into the first break with a 21-14 lead.
Herriman continued to be Magic’s only real offensive threat in the second period as he doubled the ten points he had scored in the first quarter. However, seven points from Demetrice Williams kept Leopards ahead, and although a Herriman basket briefly put the visitors into a one-point lead, four points from Selvey plus scores from Williams and Seaman sent the Big
Cats into the locker room with a six point lead.
Magic opened the third period strongly, with American Troy Sledge scoring five points in a 7-2 run to cut the Big Cats lead to a single point. Sledge scored 12 of Magic’s first 14 points of the period, but another trey from Moore and a Selvey put-back kept the hosts’ lead at eight at the midway point in the quarter.
Despite Williams picking up his fourth foul, the home side remained in control, and a long-range jump shot from Seaman saw the lead by five with two minutes of the period remaining, only to be hit by seven unanswered Magic points to give the visitors a 69-58 lead at the final break.
Things got worse for the home side as Gavin Smith and Matt Hogarth extended that run to 11-0, and although Selvey broke the run off a Williams’ assist, Magic’s lead was extended to seven following a Hogarth trey. Sam Salter’s second basket of the game plus five points from Williams saw Leopards reduce the arrears to two with 5:40 on the clock.
The teams exchanged baskets until scores from Williams and Selvey saw Leopards draw level at 73-73 with two minutes remaining. A trey from Kenny Roberts restored a lead Magic were to never lose, but despite another three-pointer from Hogarth, the Big Cats kept in touch with successful pairs of free-throws from Williams and Seaman. However Selvey missed both shots from the charity stripe with 1:18 remaining, and with Moore fouling out, Gergely Major sealed Manchester’s win from the free-throw line.
Leopards: T Selvey 28, D Williams 23, E Seaman 10, B Moore 9, S Salter 4, D Jones 3, R Lloyd, M Eames, J Warwick, E Gregory (DNP)
City of Sheffield Arrows 61 (14,28,44)
Essex & Herts Leopards 74 (22,43.65)
LEOPARDS finally ended their Sheffield hoodoo as they collected their 12th league victory of the season, on Saturday.
Since the old Big Cats won the BBL title with an overtime victory against Sheffield Sharks in April 1998, the two versions of the Leopards had managed to lose an incredible SEVENTEEN straight games in the Steel City. That included two heartbreaking National Cup defeats, and three losses in the play-offs.
But on Saturday a dominant performance by the Big Cats meant that they never looked likely to extend that miserable run. The visitors were led by a 28 point haul from point guard Demetrice Williams, with his fellow American Tory Selvey chipping in with 19 points. But it was a good all-round defensive performance from Jon Burnell’s team that sealed the win, with the reigning league champions unable to score more than 17 in any quarter as Leopards outscored them in all four periods.
Both teams went into the game missing key players, with Steve Ogunjimi and Roger Lloyd missing for the Big Cats, but it was the loss of Arrows’ Noah Brown which proved to be the key.
Without Brown, who is averaging over 30 points per game, the hosts were never able to match Leopards, and Williams set the scene when he opened the scoring with a three-pointer. Arrows hit back with a pair of baskets from American big man Tucker Kain, but that proved to be the home side’s only lead of the night.
A pair of Selvey free-throws launched what proved to be a key 13-0 run, with Selvey hitting eight of the points. The Big Cats reached the first break with a comfortable 22-14 lead, with
Williams and Selvey having each scored 10 points, and Sam Salter adding the other two, while Kain had scored 12 of his side’s 14.
Selvey and Williams continued to be Leopards’ main threat as they scored the first seven points as the lead was stretched to 29-17. A trey from Salter plus three points from James Warwick and a Brian Moore basket saw Leopards extend the lead to 15 with two minutes of the period remaining, and they held that advantage until half-time.
Eight points from Williams and five from Salter kept Leopards’ in control as the teams exchanged baskets during the first seven minutes of the second half. A rare three-pointer from Errol Seaman saw the lead grow to 20, and Leopards took it out to a game-high 24 thanks to baskets from Salter and Williams, before a three-point play from Kain saw the visitors reach the final break with a commanding 21 point lead.
With the game effectively won, Leopards noticeably relaxed, allowing Sheffield to cut the lead to 13 with eight straight points – although they could have extended that run if James Sutton had not missed four straight free throws.
However, that was as close as Arrows got as Moor ended the run with a three-pointer to wrap up the game and end their Sheffield jinx.
Leopards: D Williams 28, T Selvey 19, S Salter 12, B Moore 5, J Warwick 5, E Seaman 5, M Eames, D Jones, T Christie (DNP), E Gregory (DNP)