December 10 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Big Cats face big weekend
It is crunch time for Leopards in their defence of the National Trophy as they prepare to host Tees Valley Mohawks at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday (4pm).
A home loss against Manchester Magic saw their record drop to 0-2, and Leopards need at least one win from a weekend that also sees them visit Worthing Thunder tomorrow (Saturday) if they are to keep alive hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition.
Mohawks – who Leopards beat in last year’s final – arrive at Brentwood with two home wins from their four Trophy games this season.
As well as the overtime thriller in last year’s final, the teams also met in the play-off quarter-finals with the Big Cats running out winners.
“We know we need to win both games over the weekend,” said coach Robert Youngblood. “Saturday’s performance against Magic wasn’t acceptable, and the players know I expect better.”
The trip to Worthing sees Leopards facing the other winless team in the group, with all of Thunder’s three losses coming on the road.
They are in a similar position to the Big Cats, knowing they need to win to have any hoping in progressing to the last eight.
Thunder added an American to their roster prior to Sunday’s trip to Plymouth Marjon, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them slipping to 67-64 overtime loss against the Division Three side.
A dominant second-half display saw Leopards through to the third round of the National Cup with a 72-45 victory against Barking Abbey at Southend on Sunday.
The young visitors – who included Joe Lockwood and Josh Steel from Leopards 2012 treble winning side – made the Big Cats fight all the way in the first half before a defensive lockdown in the third period saw them limited to four points and allowed Youngblood’s team to pull away for victory.
Leopards will now face Hemel Storm or Medway Park Crusaders in the last 16 at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday October 27.
Howard Crawford led the way for the Big Cats, finishing a rebound short of a double-double with 22 points, while the rest of the scoring was shared out with all 10 of the players getting on the scoresheet.
Captain Carl Josey added six rebounds to his nine points, while Ish Fontaine and Tom Martin each hit eight points.
With summer signing Siman Stewart still injured and American point guard Kris Clark unavailable due to National Cup qualification rules, veteran point guard Ronnie Baker started and finished with eight assists and seven boards to go with his three points.
Ultimately, Leopards domination on the board proved the difference as they out-rebounded the visitors 48-29, with that disparity leading to 19 more shots.
Leopards went down 82-68 against Magic at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday, after a disastrous first period saw them trail 33-13.
The hosts were down by as many as 26 points early in the second period, and although they chipped the deficit down to single digits in the second half, the damage had been done.
Clark led with 20 points, with Josey adding 16 and Sam Iwueke having another good game with 12 points off the bench.
Crawford had a tough night in his first competitive game, playing only four minutes in the first half as he picked up two early fouls in the opening quarter and a third in the opening minute of the second period. He eventually finished with ten points and eight rebounds.
Christine Ohuruogu and Mo Farah have been nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.