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Youngblood backing Big Cats bid

PUBLISHED: 15:30 10 January 2014

Leopards coach Robert Youngblood gives a team talk to his side (pic: Paul Phillips)

Leopards coach Robert Youngblood gives a team talk to his side (pic: Paul Phillips)

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Leopards coach confident of title push

Leopards’ coach Robert Youngblood believes his side can still win the EBL Division One title.

The Big Cats visit Medway Park Crusaders tomorrow (Saturday) and host Bristol Academy Flyers at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, at the earlier time of 3pm.

And, currently sitting in fourth place, they still have games in hand over most of their title rivals.

“I think we can win it,” said Youngblood after last Sunday’s win at Bradford.

“We’ve got the head-to-head over Bradford now, and we should get it against Hemel, as well.

“We’ll have to go down to Reading and win, but I think we’re capable of doing that. We just need to cut out some of the errors, and stay together as a team.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up, and we need to stick together as a team.”

The Big Cats are likely to be without Youngblood on Sunday after he injured his knee in the thrilling 85-83 win at Bradford.

By their standards Bristol are having a disappointing season, sitting in 12th spot in the 14-team league with two wins from 10 games.

But they have been boosted by the return of Doug McLaughlin-Williams after the American forward missed the first half of the season due to visa problems.

England’s most capped player, Ronnie Baker, was the Leopards hero at Bradford as he drained a trey with eight seconds left to put Leopards 81-80 ahead.

Some great defence forced the Dragons into a turnover, and Baker was sent to the foul line with 1.2 seconds left where he hit the first shot before deliberately missing the second to run the clock down.

The Big Cats had trailed by as many as 14 before three Kris Clark three-pointers in the third period dragged them back into the game.

And they still trailed by five with just over two minutes to go before Youngblood and Clark set up the thrilling finish with some good foul shooting.

Having only scored two points at half-time, Clark led all scorers with 24 points, with Howard Crawford adding 12 and Carl Josey 10.

The previous day had seen Leopards fail to close out a win at Leeds Carnegie as the home team scraped home 64-61.

The Big Cats failed to grab a defensive rebound three times in the final minute as Carnegie struggled at the foul line.

They had the chance to win the game with five minutes left as Clark broke free, but his lay-up failed to connect – although he did appear to be fouled – and Josh McGinn scored on the buzzer to seal the win.

Crawford led Leopards with a 22 point, 12 rebound double-double, with Clark adding 16 points and six assists.


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