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Losing weekend for Leopards

PUBLISHED: 08:54 26 March 2013

Robert Youngblood in action against Worthing (Paul Phillips)

Robert Youngblood in action against Worthing (Paul Phillips)

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Big blow for Big Cats

Leopards endured a losing weekend in EBL Division One, suffering an 83-81 defeat at Bristol Academy Flyers on Saturday before going down 73-56 at home against Worthing Thunder.

They have three games left to earn home-court advantage in the play-offs and host Brixton at Brentwood on Friday, before a double-header in the north east.

Player-coach Robert Youngblood said: “Against Bristol I thought we played really hard and refused to lose, We didn’t give up but unfortunately three bad calls down the stretch cost us the game.

“But against Worthing I thought we came with no energy, we were flat and couldn’t make shots. Our defence was terrible, and never thought we’d get out-rebounded by 17, They played really well, and they’ve won eight in a row now, but it’s back to the drawing board for us.”

A controversial end to the game in Bristol saw Leopards’ four-game winning streak snapped.

Simon Cummings – who hit 17 points in each period on the way to leading the Leopards’ scoring – drove to the basket in the final five seconds and appeared to be fouled twice before being called for travelling to effectively hand the game to Bristol.

That wasn’t even the most controversial moment of the final minute. A steal from Greg Hernandez with 38 seconds on the clock saw him appear to be fouled one the break at half-court, and as Bristol coach Andreas Kapoulas pleaded for the referee to not call an intentional foul his prayers were answered as the American big man was called for a travel.

Hernandez finished with 17 points and Rowell Graham added nine for a Leopards team who were without Duane Camile, Jamal Anderson and Taner Adu.

The consolation for Youngblood’s team was that his side won the head-to-head decider against the Flyers by a single point which would prove crucial if they finish level at the season’s end.

In contrast, there could be no complaints about Sunday’s home loss against Thunder as a big crowd at Brentwood saw the visitors lead from tip-to-buzzer, never looking back after scoring the first six points.

Cummings led the way again with 15 points, but needed 20 shots to get them while Graham was the only other Leopard in double figures with ten points and four steals.

After trailing by as many as eight in the opening first period, a Youngblood buzzer-beater made it 19-13 at the first break.

Things didn’t noticeably improve in the second period, with Thunder’s lead growing to ten midway through the quarter but Carl Josey’s score with 26 seconds on the clock made it 32-28 at half-time.

Ish Fontaine made it a three point game with 85 seconds gone but a 13-2 run put Thunder back in control and they never looked back.

The Big Cats will look for their third victory of the season against the Topcats on Friday having beaten them 77-63 at home in the Trophy and 84-63 on the road in the league.

The London side have struggled all season with just three wins from their 23 games, and are consigned to bottom spot in the table.

Leopards are running a camp for 6-16-year-olds before the game, with further details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk or by calling 07828 470015.


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