Mixed weekend for Essex Leopards
- Credit: Archant
Leopards maintain title hopes, but dumped out of Trophy.
It was an indifferent weekend of results for Essex Leopards as they maintained their BBL Division One title push, but bowed out of the Trophy at the quarter-final stage.
The Big Cats maintained their perfect record at Harlow Leisure Zone with a 79-68 victory on Saturday and with title rivals Derby Trailblazers losing at home against Worthing Thunder, it was a perfect night for Robert Youngblood’s team.
Leopards’ top scorer Dave Ajumobi returned from illness to again lead their scoring with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Will Ashby finished with 13 points, including two key three pointers down the stretch, while Lukas Winegarner added 12 points and Albert Margai 11.
A tight first period saw the visitors lead 18-17 but new signing Ladi Brown opened the second period scoring with a trey off Ronnie Baker’s assist to give a Leopards a lead they would never lose.
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A 43-38 lead at half-time became 63-52 at the final break, and although the visitors cut the margin to six points with 3:20 on the clock, Will Ashby drained from downtown, and although Toms Leiteras replied with a long two, Ashby hit another triple to put Leopards 76-66 ahead with 1:54 on the clock and seal the win.
The following day was little short of a disaster for the Big Cats as they crashed out of the Trophy with a 72-50 loss against Warriors at Brentwood.
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It took almost five minutes for the home side to get on the scoreboard, but which time they trailed 9-0, and there was little improvement as they reached the first break 23-10 down.
Scores from Ashby and Ajumobi looked to have got the Big Cats back on track as they hit five points in the first two second period minutes, but they failed to score again in the half as Warriors hit 12 unanswered points to lead 42-15 going into the locker room – a Leopards club record scoring low for a half.
The second half was an improvement for the hosts as they outscored Warriors 19-17 in the third period and 16-13 in the fourth, but the damage had been done.
Matic Zupanc led Leopards with 11 points, with Ajumobi adding 10 points as their chance of repeating the 2013 success in the competition ended.