25 years of Leopards – season 14

The fifth season of the new Leopards saw the club on the move again – but it was positive news this time as they negotiated a move back to the Brentwood Centre. Having played all of the 2007/8 campaign at Wodson Park, the hoped for crowds had (again) failed to materialise and it was clear that changes would have to be made to keep the club solvent.
A deal to be part of the BBL’s Hoops 4 Health community programme was also a massive boost for Leopards, allowing them to add full-time players are return to renting club accommodation as they built a side they believed they could challenge for the title. Unfortunately much of the work (and money) failed to materialise and although it didn’t effect things on the court during 2008/9, it had serious ramifications the following season,
As the articles below show, there was plenty of excitement throughout the season, a treble overtime win against Westminster at Wodson in the National Cup, another overtime win against Manchester Magic (unfortunately no report from that one) in game where Leopards led by 28 at one stage only to allow the visitors to pour in 22 unanswered points, a game against Bristol at Brentwood that finished a couple of months later in the West Country and a different weekend in the west that saw a win in Bristol on the Saturday before the following day’s game at Taunton was cancelled after the death of a Tigers’ volunteer (one of the players’ mother) although it later transpired that their coach had also quit the night before the game. And naturally we had the disappearance of an American when Carl McNulty’s brief time with Leopards ended because he didn’t like the club accommodation and former Leopards’ captain Robert Youngblood had helped the guard sign for Leopards following his cutting by MK Lions but once again it proved to be a waste of time and money.
It was the season that saw Reading Rockets complete a clean sweep of all four pieces of silverware, going 36-0 in the process, but Leopards were the only side who came close to beating them – losing 75-72 in the Cup quarter-final at Wodson Park and 87-82 in the Trophy group stage. Despite that Leopards had to settle for third place in the final table as they struggled to overcome runners-up Manchester Magic. Progress to the Trophy semi-final was made for the first time after an exhausting group stage, but a trip the Amaechi Centre ended in an eight point loss. Another first was a victory in play-offs as Coventry were edged out in the quarter-final before another semi-final at Manchester saw a heavy loss in the Final Four.

23 May 2008
Leopards back at Brentwood
Leopards will return to the Brentwood Centre in September following an agreement with centre management and the club’s board of directors. The Big Cats last played at the Essex venue in the 2005/6 season, but a hike in hire from £1,400 per game to £4,000 meant that they were forced to move to Dagenham before spending last season playing at Wodson Park in Ware.
“We’re delighted to be back at the Brentwood Centre” said Leopards’ director Fred Dicker. “It is the only place that we were able to consistently get good crowds. It’s the best venue in the EBL, and we’ll look to put on the same kind of show we did when we last played there.”

The decision to return to the Brentwood Centre came after the talks with the centre’s new management which has seen the two sides come to an agreement whereby they will share the game-day revenue.

“We’ll be working with the Brentwood Centre, rather than just being a paying customer” said Leopards general manager Dave Ryan, “The exciting thing is that both sides will have a common goal. There were times during our last spell when it seemed they were only interested in taking our money.”

Leopards expect to make their return to Brentwood on Sunday September 21 with a special match to mark the occasion before tipping off their EBL Trophy campaign the following week.

They are expected to play around ten games at Brentwood, with the club still considering other venues for their remaining six games. The options for the Big Cats include remaining at Wodson Park or finding a court in east or north London.

The original Leopards played at Brentwood between 1999 and 2003 before the club closed down due after its financial backer withdrew. A group of supporters revived the club for the 2004/5 season, and they won the National Cup in December 2005.

The Big Cats finished fifth in the England Basketball League Division One last season, with an all British squad, but will be strengthening that side as they look to challenge for the title next season.

1 July 2008
Leopards go West in Trophy

Leopards will be heading west when their National Trophy campaign commences in late September.

The competition is the league cup for England Basketball Division One sides, and the ten clubs have been divided into two five-team groups – with the sides playing each other on a home and away basis.

The Big Cats have been drawn in a group with holders Reading Rockets, Bristol Academy Flyers, Taunton Tigers and Cardiff Celts.

Jon Burnell’s team open the competition on Saturday September 27 at the Brentwood Centre when Taunton Tigers are the visitors, tip-off 7.30pm.

Leopards are also in action at Brentwood the following Sunday (October 5) when they will look for revenge for last season’s play-off defeat against Bristol Academy Flyers.

They then have three successive away games in the competition before the league campaign starts in November, and the Trophy starts again after Christmas with home games against Reading (January 10) and Division Two champions Cardiff (January 24) before they complete their Trophy games with a trip to Bristol on January 25.

“It’s a tough group” admitted general manager Dave Ryan, “Reading have won the competition in each of the last two seasons, Bristol gave us some really tough games last season and Cardiff looked a physical side when I saw them in the Division Two play-off final last season.”

The top two in each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the group winner having home advantage in the last four.

Before Leopards face Taunton on September 27, they host Kent Crusaders at Brentwood on Sunday September 21 in the first game back at their traditional home.

20 July 2008
Leopards to remain at Wodson

Leopards have announced that they will continue to play some home games at Wodson Park during the 2008/09 basketball season.

The Big Cats have secured the use of the Brentwood Centre for ten games, with the remaining fixtures taking place at the Ware venue.

There had been doubts about the club staying at Wodson following disappointing crowds last season, but general manager Dave Ryan is pleased that they are remaining at Ware:

“It’s a nice venue to play at, and we’re looking forward to staging some games there. Obviously we won’t be there as much as last season, but hopefully the people who only came to a few games will aim to see a higher percentage of our home fixtures.

“We really do need bigger crowds to make the club a success. No one likes playing in a half-empty venue, so we’re hoping for a bit more support this season.”

Leopards’ first game of the campaign at Wodson is on Sunday October 19 when they will host either Division Three side Oxford Brookes University or fourth division Richmond College London in the second round of the National Cup

If they make their expected progress in the competition, they will also play at Wodson on Sunday November 9 and Sunday November 30.

Sheffield Arrows are the visitors to Ware on Saturday December 13, while Reading Rockets arrive on Saturday January 10. Division One newcomers Cardiff Celts are the visitors a fortnight later, while Leopards’ last home game of the regular season sees the Big Cats host Derby Trailblazers on Sunday March 22.

24 June 2008
Leopards announce major community project

Leopards have announced a major community programme as they prepare to return to Brentwood in September.

The Big Cats will be the only England Basketball League side to take part in the Hoops4Health programme, which will see them visiting 150 schools in the five Olympic boroughs to promote healthy living for youngsters.

Leopards’ programme in being run in conjunction with Great Britain assistant coach Tony Garbelotto, who started the scheme with his former club London United, and continued it last season despite United pulling out of the BBL.

“It’s a really exciting project for us” said Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan, “We’ll be the only side at our level to run a Hoops4Health scheme, and it will enable us to employ four full-time players.

“We’re still committed to our link-up with Barking Abbey Basketball Academy, but we’ll now have the funds to bring in a couple of American players, and look to strengthen our group of senior British players

12 September 2008 Lee is back for Leopards

Leopards will welcome back centre Lee McCarthy when they travel to Worthing Thunder for a pre-season tournament on Sunday.

The 6’ 8” Englishman started last season, but was forced to sit out the final two months of the season due to injury.

McCarthy is now fully fit, and general manager Dave Ryan is delighted to see him back for the Big Cats: “Our form definitely suffered when we lost Lee last season, and it’s good to see him back with us.

“If Leigh Greenan gets his move to Spain, we’d have been a bit on the small side, so having Lee back is a definite bonus.”

McCarthy and his team-mates will face Leopards Irish Superleague champions DART Killester in their first game at Worthing on Saturday, and will then play either hosts Thunder or a Neptune side who finished near the foot of the Irish Superleague last season.

24 September 2008 Leopards waiting on clearance for “H”

Leopards are hoping that new signing Hrvoje Pervan receives international clearance in time for their first competitive game back at the Brentwood Centre, on Saturday evening.

Croatian forward Pervan was granted a work permit on Monday, and the Big Cats are hoping that his clearance from German side SCH Weurzburg Baskets comes through in time for him to face Taunton Tigers in Saturday’s EBL Trophy game against Taunton Tigers.

Pervan is a former Croatian under-16 and under-18 international, and also put in a two-year stint at Mercer University (2005-06 and 2006-07), whose NCAA Division 1 basketball team – the Mercer Bears – play in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“H will be a massive signing for us” said coach Jon Burnell. “He’s a big body inside the paint, but is also a real three-point threat, so getting him in for Saturday would be a real bonus. But we’re signing him for the whole season, so ultimately if he’s not available, we’ll just go with what we’ve got.”

The 24-year-old is excited about joining the Big Cats: “I would like to thank the management and the coach for the opportunity to be a part of the Leopards. I can’t wait to get to England and to meet my new team-mates. I’m looking forward to be a part of a successful club. I will do all I can to blend in the team and to help win as many games as possible.”

21 October 2008
Leopards look for nine in a row at the Brentwood Centre

Leopards will look to extend their winning streak to nine games when they tip-off their England Basketball League Division One season with a home against Taunton Tigers on Sunday.

The action at the Brentwood Centre starts at 4pm, and if the game is as thrilling as last time the Tigers visited, the fans are in for a treat.

Two Lukas Volskis free-throws with just 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock to seal a 91-89 victory in the teams’ opening National Trophy game.

Tigers’ Joe Saunders looked to have sent the game into overtime with a lay-up less than two seconds from the horn, but the young guard inexplicably fouled Volskis.

The 19-year-old point guard stepped up and coolly drained both shots from the charity stripe in the final second to give the Big Cats victory in their first competitive game at the Brentwood Centre for 30 months.
Such a finish had looked unlikely as the Big Cats had led the game 59-43 midway through the third period, but Tigers refused to give in and a strong finish to the third period saw them go into the final break only trailing by four.

The Big Cats go into the game on the back of a successful weekend where they remained joint top of their National Trophy group and progressed in the National Cup.

A season high 32 points from Gareth Laws helped Leopards overcome a stubborn 93-79 Cardiff Celts side to maintain the Big Cats unbeaten start to the season, on Saturday.

Croatian forward Hrvoje Pervan continued his excellent start to life in a Leopards’ vest by scoring 29 points as he and Laws combined for 65 percent of the visitors’ points.

Leigh Greenan added 12 points, while point guard Carl Latham-Henry marked his return from injury by coming off the bench to finish with ten.

Leopards had trailed by three going into both the second and third periods, but outscored the home side 28-20 in the third before closing game out with a 25-16 final quarter.

Gareth Laws led the scoring for the second night in succession as Leopards made hard work of progressing to the National Cup third round with a 108-85 victory against Oxford Brookes University..

Laws took his weekend tally to 65 points with 33 as the Big Cats produced a strong second half performance to make it nine straight wins.

Hrvoje Pervan added 26 points, while Carl Latham Henry continued his comeback with 18.

The Big Cats trailed 27-22 at the first break and went into the locker room 53-47 down at half-time. However, they upped their defensive intensity and proved more clinical at the offensive end in the second as they reached the final break 75-67 ahead before outscoring the visitors 33-18 in the fourth stanza.

8 November 2008
Leopards sign Jordan

There will be a new face on show for the Leopards when they host Westminster Warriors on Sunday as they have added power forward Russell Jordan to their squad.

The 26-year-old dual British/American national joins the Big Cats from BBL newcomers Worthing Thunder where he was on a short-term contract, having played for Leicester Riders in the same competition last season.

Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan is delighted with the new signing: “We’ve been tracking Russell for a while but we’ve never quite managed to sign him, so it’s great that he’s finally on board. He’ll bring us a lot at the defensive end, which we clearly needed at Taunton last week. Add the facts that he’s good at the Hoops 4 Health work and he’s a British passport holder, we’re very happy to Russ on board.”

Born in England while his father served in the US military, Jordan had a successful college career in The States with Middlesex County College, Jarvis Christian College and Kean University before playing for German team VSC MR Plan Donauworth. He was signed by Martin Ford at Riders last season before linking up with Thunder in September – making his debut in their pre-season tournament which saw Leopards finish third.

With centre Lee McCarthy likely to miss both of Leopards’ games this weekend with an Achilles injury he picked up at Taunton, Jordan’s signing comes at the right time for the Big Cats.

Jordan will make his debut on Saturday night as the Big Cats make the long journey to Tees Valley Mohawks before Leopards return to Wodson Park on Sunday evening to face Westminster Warriors, tip-off 5pm.

Even with McCarthy injured. the Leopards go into the weekend genuinely ten deep, and with a long trip north on Saturday followed by a tough game on Sunday, that could prove crucial as they look to bounce back from last week’s loss at Taunton.

4 December 2008
No McNally against Celts

Leopards have been frustrated in their attempts to sign American shooting guard Carl McNally in time for Saturday’s trip to Cardiff Celts.

The 22-year-old was released from British League side Milton Keynes Lions, and immediately snapped up by the Big Cats.

He watched their two recent games against Reading Rockets, and was expected to make his debut against Cardiff this weekend, but the move has been held up due to a problem at the UK Border Agency, as general manager Dave Ryan explained:

“We sent the documentation off over a week ago, before the procedure changed, but they appear to have lost it. They’ve been provided with copies of everything, but we’re waiting to see if they treat it as a new application. That would complicate things as the new procedures are unclear and will take a lot longer.

“It’s frustrating as we did everything right and on time, and so did England Basketball, but they simply seem to have lost the application.

“There’s no point bellyaching though, we’ll go down there with whoever’s fit and licensed and try to win the game. Carl [Latham-Henry] coming back so soon is a massive bonus for us, because we really believed we wouldn’t see him until after Christmas. We need him and Gareth Laws to have big games, and lead us to a win.”

McNally is now expected to play his first game for the Leopards when Sheffield Arrows are the visitors to Wodson Park on Saturday December 13.

It will be a depleted Leopards team that travels to south Wales this week. Croatian forward Pervan broke his hand in last week National Cup exit against Reading Rockets, and will be out of action until the New Year. Centre Lee McCarthy aggravated his on-going ankle injury against Rockets as is also unlikely to travel. On the plus side for the Leopards, Carl Latham-Henry came through the game against Rockets unscathed after the neck injury he suffered two weeks before, but his back-up Lukas Volskis missed that game with an Achilles injury, and is unlikely to play this weekend.

Celts go into the game in eighth spot in the league with a 1-2 record while the Leopards are third having won both their completed Division One games this season.

The teams have already met in the National Trophy this season, and a strong second half proved to be key for the visiting Leopards as they won 93-79. Gareth Laws led the way for the Big Cats with 32 points as they overcame a 43-40 half-time deficit to lead 68-63 at the final break, and they never trailed again. Hrvoje Prevan added 29 for the visitors, while Celts were led by 23 Mike Gregory points.

15 January 2009
Leopards sign England’s most capped player

Leopards have pounced to strengthen their squad ahead of the January 31 deadline with the signing of former England international Ronnie Baker.

The 39-year-old is England’s most capped player, having collected 156 caps in an international career that lasted 18 years, culminating with a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Baker played three seasons with the original Leopards in the mid-1990s, winning the BBL title and the National Cup in 1996/97 season as well as playing for seven other BBL clubs. He spent the last two years with Milton Keynes Lions, where he won the BBL Cup last season.

The 5’ 8” point guard will be player-assistant coach for the Big Cats, and general manager Dave Ryan is excited about the club’s new signing:

“We’re delighted that Ronnie is joining us, both on the coaching and playing side. When Gareth Laws coached us at Derby before Christmas he did a great job, but he wasn’t as effective as a player – and we really need him on the court. Ronnie brings a wealth of experience at the top level in this country and at international level, and he’ll be a fantastic asset as a coach.

“But we also get a great player who can bring so much to us on the court. We have two really good point guards in Carl Latham-Henry and Lucas Volskis, but when one of them has been injured we’ve struggled, so having Ronnie available is a real bonus. Both Carl and Lucas are capable of playing at the shooting guard spot, so we certainly have lots of options now.

“We’re 11 deep with Division One quality players, and we’re really looking to push on now and get our highest ever spot in the final table. The league’s probably beyond us, but there’s still the National Trophy and the play-offs, and I genuinely believe that with this squad we can win something.”

Baker will make his Leopards debut on Sunday afternoon when the Big Cats host Coventry Crusaders, at the Brentwood Centre – tip-off 4pm.

As well as winning a pair of trophies with the original Big Cats, Baker won collected five other winners medals in the BBL as well as finishing runners-up three times.

23 January 2009
Leopards and Flyers make history
While Jack Bauer continues to try save democracy and America, Bristol Academy Flyers and London Leopards will stage their own version of “24” in the England Basketball League Division One on Sunday.

The two sides will play the final 24 seconds of a game that was suspended in November following a neck injury to Leopards’ point guard Carl Latham-Henry.

That game at Leopards’ Brentwood Centre home on November 16 was held up for 30 minutes after the 25-year-old collided with Flyers guard Greg Street and suffered a neck injury. With the player unable to be moved, and the ambulance taking over 25 minutes to arrive, the referees called a halt to proceedings.

Latham-Henry was taken to Romford hospital, and was released after treatment for damaged ligaments in his neck.

With Flyers leading 92-86,Leopards agreed to play the remaining 24 seconds when the sides meet in the National Trophy on Sunday.

We were never looking to gain any advantage from the situation” said general manager Dave Ryan. “We were still in with a chance, albeit an outside one, of winning the game and even though we’ll be at a disadvantage having to play it Bristol it always seemed the fairest way of doing it.”

The two sides will be making history on Sunday as it is believed to be the first game in England to be spread over two different dates. There is 155 miles between the Brentwood Centre where the game started and 70 days would have elapsed since it originally started.

The teams will only be allowed to play players who were involved when the game started, and with the exception of Latham-Henry who will take no further part in the game, they must start with the players who were on the court when the game was suspended.

Both teams are in the penalty, with Bristol holding the ball and 20 seconds on the shot clock.

Leopards coach Jon Burnell is realistic about his team’s chances of snatching a win: “We’ll give it a go, but the odds are against it. We didn’t deserve the win last time, and if we don’t get it this time around we’ll move on and look to get the win in the Trophy. That’s our priority this weekend, if we can beat Cardiff and Bristol we’ll have an excellent chance of getting through to the semi-finals.”

In the original game, Flyers had looked to be heading for a comfortable win as they led 90-77 with 80 seconds remaining, but a pair of three pointers from Gareth Laws and one from Hrvoje Pervan took the score to 92-86 before the game came to a premature end.

Pervan and Latham-Henry had led the scoring for the Big Cats with 26 points apiece, while Gareth Laws added 14.

When the 24 seconds are over, the teams will return to the court for what looks likely to be a key National Trophy game. The teams both head into the game with 3-3 records, and are looking to gain their first semi-final spot in the competition. Bristol visit Cardiff Celts on Friday night, with Leopards hosting the Welsh side the following evening. With Celts winless and effectively eliminated from the competition, if Bristol can win both their games they will qualify for the last four. Meanwhile if Leopards record a pair of victories, they’ll be hoping that undefeated Reading Rockets win at least one of their two remaining games against Taunton Tigers – which will eliminate the Somerset side.

Flyers coach Andreas Kapoulas is also looking forward to Sunday’s history-making double-header: “It’s a bit bizarre game on Sunday. We first have to play the last 24 seconds from the league game and then we have the national trophy game. The most important element is the fact that Carl is ok and healthy. In terms of the game, we are up by six points and possession of the ball however it’s still a two possession game and we have to be careful as Leopards have some of the best shooters in the league. It should be interesting as we have never been involved in a day that determines two results!

“The national trophy game is a winner takes it all game provided we beat Cardiff on Thursday. The winner goes through to the National Trophy semi-finals. its going to be a great achievement for our club to reach its first ever trophy semi-final in the short period we have been in the league. Leopards seem to have most of their team back healthy and that makes them really strong. Unfortunately we have a lot of significant injuries so a lot of our younger academy players will have to give us quality minutes.

It’s a bit like throwing them in the deep water but it will be really good to see how they react. I have loads of confidence in them and they have been playing really well in practise. Sunday should be a really good crucial test for us.”

When Leopards and Flyers met in the Trophy at Brentwood earlier in the season, things were considerably calmer than the subsequent league game. Thirty-five Hrvoje Pervan points helped Leopards record a comfortable 96-81 victory in a game that they never looked back in after going into the first break with a 29-16 lead. Brody Bishop led the Flyers with 24 points.

18 November 2008
Leopards game abandoned

Leopards 86 Bristol Academy Flyers 92 – game abandoned

Leopards saw Sunday’s game against Bristol at the Brentwood Centre abandoned with 24 seconds remaining after a serious injury to point guard Carl Latham-Henry.

The 25-year-old collided with Flyers guard Greg Street and suffered a neck injury. With the player unable to be moved, and the ambulance taking 25 minutes to arrive, the game was called off after a 30 minute delay.

The final decision on whether the game will be replayed rests with England Basketball, but Leopards have offered to play the final 24 seconds when they visit Bristol for a Trophy game in January.

“We’re not looking to gain any advantage from the situation” said general manager Dave Ryan. “We were still in with a chance, albeit an outside one, of winning the game and even though we’ll be at a disadvantage having to play it Bristol it seems the fairest way of doing it.”

Flyers had looked to be heading for a comfortable win as they led 90-77 with 80 seconds remaining, but a pair of three pointers from Gareth Laws and one from Hrvoje Pervan took the score to 92-86 before the game came to a premature end.

Latham-Henry was taken to Romford hospital, and was released after treatment for damaged ligaments in his neck.

Pervan and Latham-Henry had led the scoring for the Big Cats with 26 points apiece, while Gareth Laws added 14.

In front of their biggest crowd of the season, the Leopards had produced a disappointing performance as the visitors controlled the game for long periods.

Latham-Henry opened the scoring with a trey and Pervan hit a long jump shot to give Leopards a 5-0 lead, but that was as good as it got at Bristol gave a hint of what was to follow with a 7-0 run.

Fola Adeleke broke the run, but with Leopards scoring only three of their six foul shots in the period, it took a Laws trey to cut the deficit to 25-18 going into the first break.

A low scoring second period saw Bristol lead by around ten points for much of the quarter, but a single free-throw from Pervan cut their lead to 38-30 in the final seconds of the half before Watson launched a last second buzzer-beater to send his side into locker room with a 41-30 advantage.

Despite a Pervan trey, Bristol’s lead grew to 50-35 at the midway stage of the third period, and although Lucas Volskis drained a three-pointer to get the deficit into single figures, Bristol again beat the buzzer with a trey as Tyronne Treasure scored from the Land of Plenty to send Flyers into the final break with a 64-53 lead.

Pervan opened the fourth period with a basket before five straight Latham-Henry points cut the visitors’ lead to 64-60.

A 6-2 Bristol run put Flyers back up by eight, and the game looked to be over as scores from John Grazioli and Treasure put the visitors 86-75 up with two minutes remaining.

However, back-to-back threes from Laws galvanised Leopards, and with Pervan also draining from long range, the Big Cats looked to be setting up a grandstand finish before the game was brought a premature end.

Leopards: C Latham-Henry 26, H Pervan 26, G Laws 14, R Jordan 6, L Volskis 5, F Adeleke 4, L Greenan 2, B Wilkinson 2.

11 November 2008 Leopards win thriller

Leopards 123 (22,47,58,89,98,109) Westminster Warriors 118 (21,44,70,89,98,109)

The most incredible game in Leopards’ five year history saw the Big Cats knock Westminster Warriors out of the National Cup 123-118 after three periods of overtime on Sunday evening.

A thrilling game lasted two and half hours, saw numerous lead changes, and only went to overtime after the home side had scored the final nine points of the game inside 90 seconds. Junior point guard Lukas Volskis was the hero for the second time this season as he launched a huge three-pointer with just two seconds left to send the game into overtime.

Hrvoje Pervan led the Leopards scoring for the sixth time this season with 30 while Leigh Greenan had his best ever offensive night for the Big Cats with 22 points and Carl Latham-Henry finished with 18 despite foul trouble. Volskis (15) Gareth Laws (15) and Fola Adeleke (14) also finished in double figures for the home side.

Marlan Henry led the visitors with 33 points, while the impressive Jon Johnson hit 31 and player-coach Junior Williams drained 15.

With Warriors having had the previous day off and Leopards coming into the game on the back of a trip to Teesside which saw them return to London at 2.30am, the visitors played the game at a high pace throughout.

Pervan drained 11 points in the first period, including three treys, while Laws scored two from the Land of Plenty, but the hosts were unable to pull away as they went into the first break with a 22-21 lead.

Sammy Rahman gave Warriors the lead with the first play of the second period, but Volskis put the home side back ahead with a trey.

Leopards remained ahead throughout the rest of the quarter, and a lay-up from Latham-Henry followed by a three-point play by the same player saw Jon Burnell’s team go into the locker room 47-43 ahead.

The third period proved to be a disaster for the Leopards as they were outscored 27-11, with Pervan being forced to sit down after collecting his third foul.

The Big Cats led 50-47 after three minutes play, but Henry launched a 13-1 run to Warriors a lead they never lost until overtime, and they went into the fourth period with a 70-58 lead.

Leopards gradually chipped away at the deficit, and a three-point Pervan play saw the visitors’ lead cut to five with four minutes remaining – only to see Henry and Johnson score at the other to take it back up to nine with 90 seconds remaining

Pervan trimmed it to seven before both he and Volskis made successful trips to the foul line to cut the Westminster lead to three.

The score was still 89-86 in Warriors favour with 24 seconds remaining, but Burnell’s team elected not to foul, and their patience was paid off with eight seconds remaining when Westminster turned the ball over.

With Latham-Henry having fouled out with an offensive charge midway through the fourth, the ball was left in Volskis’ hands, and with two seconds remaining he drained from downtown to spark celebrations in the stand and send the game into an extra period.

Greenan opened the scoring in overtime, and with Pervan and Volskis both scoring, Leopards opened a 95-91 lead and appeared to be heading for victory. However Pervan received a harsh technical, but then picked up a second one for arguing and fouled out of the game.

Marvin Addy scored three of the four foul shots and Henry scored from inbound to put Westminster 96-95 ahead.

Greenan levelled the score again with a single free-throw, and Volskis looked to have given Leopards the win with a late basket, but Johnson tied the score at 98 to force a second extra period.

Four straight Fola Adeleke points at the start of the second OT period appeared to have put Leopards in charge, but Warriors refused to lie down, and it took a late score from new signing Russ Jordan to force a third extra period.

Henry gave Warriors the lead from the charity stripe with the opening play of the third overtime period, but four straight free-throws from Adeleke meant that the game was still tied going into what proved to be the final 150 seconds of the game.

Greenan scored from under the basket after grabbing an offensive rebound and after Warriors had scored three points to lead 117-115 the 18-year-old scored a pair from the foul line to level the score.

Johnson put his side back into the lead for the final time with a single free-throw, but Greenan again scored from close range before grabbing a missed free-throw from Volskis and Adeleke wrapped up an incredible game from the foul line.

Leopards: H Pervan 30, L Greenan 22, C Latham-Henry 18, L Volskis 15, G Laws 15, F Adeleke 14, R Jordan 6, B Wilkinson 2, R Gilchrist, K Wood, T Webb (DNP)


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