Leopards sink Lituanica
PUBLISHED: 09:30 07 December 2015
Big Cats end rival's 37-game win streak
Levett Essex Leopards ended London Lituanica’s 37-home game winning streak with a stunning 89-68 victory last night.
The newly-promoted Lithuanian side were unbeaten in league games, but after a quiet start, they were blown away by the Big Cats’ best performance of the season as they chalked up their third straight win.
The home side didn’t help themselves by collecting five technical fouls, although by the time T Grybauskas was ejected after picking up three technicals in under 20 seconds midway through the fourth period Steve Ogunjimi’s team were well on their way to their fifth league win of the campaign.
Lituancia scored the first two baskets of the game, but Leopards’ captain Albert Margai got his side off the mark and launched a 15-2 run that saw Ladi Brown hit eight points, and the visitors never looked back.
Back-to-back scores from Connor Stuart sent the Big Cats into the first break with a 24- 13 lead and they stayed comfortably ahead throughout the second period as four straight points from Will Ashby and Justin Hitchman saw them lead 47-30 going into half-time.
The third period proved to be a tough one for the Leopards and an 11-0 run saw the hosts cut their lead to three points before Brown sunk a trey in a 7-0 run to close the quarter and send them into the final break with a 63-53 cushion.
Back-to-back threes from Dougie Bennett saw the Big Cats stay ahead at the start of the fourth quarter, and although former Leopard Lukas Volskis also struck from downtown, scores from Bennett and Ashby put their side 75-61 ahead with five minutes remaining.
Any thoughts that the London side would go down quietly when Trepocka slammed Jamie Hayes into the wall behind the basket as he attempted a lay-up. It appeared to be an easy call for the referees, but Grybauskas took umbrage and got himself thrown out, and with Hayes unable to continue, Tom Martin hit four of the resulting free-throws as Leopards closed out the win on a 14-6 run.
Brown led his team with 21 points, with Hitchman finishing with 11 and both Ashby and Bennett adding ten apiece as all ten Leopards got on the scoreboard.
The Big Cats now face a double-header weekend in the north east, playing Tees Valley Mohawks on Saturday and Team Northumbria the following day.
Mohawks have lost all 14 games they have played this season and are bottom of the Division One table, but with an early start and a long trip ahead of the 3pm tip-off, Ogunjimi’s team will be wary of slipping up.
Northumbria have exceeded expectations this season and are fifth in the Division One table with a 6-3 record and have qualified for the Trophy quarter-final with four wins from six games.
Leopards won both games against Mohawks last season, but split the series against Northumbria, with the 84-72 win at the Brentwood Centre proving to be particularly memorable as it sealed the Division One title for the Big Cats.
Ogunjimi’s team return to the Brentwood Centre on Sunday December 20 when Westminster Warriors are the visitors.
There’s a chance for youngsters to be coached by forward Tosin Oyelese before the game, with further details on leopardsbasketball.co.uk.