Late comeback not enough for Leopards

Leopards’ relegation worries intensified as they lost Saturday’s 83-75 loss at Barking Abbey.
The result leaves the Big Cats joint bottom of the table with Liverpool, and the only consolation for coach Thomas Baker will be that a fourth period comeback reduced the deficit from 28 and gives them a chance of winning the head-to-head decider when the teams meet at Oaklands in mid-March.
Jerrelle Okoro led Baker’s team, hitting 11 of his 19 points from the foul line, adding four rebounds. Ray Akpofore finished with a massive 12 point, 15 rebound double-double while Oaklands youngster Toby Gastaldi-Davies hit four treys on his way to 11 points and Prince Lartey had a ten point, ten assist double-double.
The Big Cats only led briefly in the game and conceded 28 point off turnovers, and went into the first break trailing 24-15 before reducing the deficit to one with a 20-15 second period. But a disastrous third quarter saw the visitors outscored 28-11 to leave them trailing 68-46 at the final break.
Three pointers from Norton and Boardman-Raffet saw the Barking lead grow to 28 with eight minutes left in the game before Akpofore converted an and-one.
A Lartey three-point play finally got the Big Cats moving and Gastaldi-Davies’ trey and a lay-up in a 13-0 run saw the visitors make it a nine point game with 2:44 on the clock.
Another Gastaldi-Davies three pointer reduced the arrears to eight, but the Big Cats failed to take advantage of Barking coach James Vear’s ejection, converting only one of their four foul shots.
Lartey made it a five point game with 98 seconds on the clock but Norton’s driving lay-up broke the visitors’ run and although the same player only hit one-from-four free-throws as Leopards were forced to foul to stop the clock, Abbey held on for what could prove to be a key victory.