It was another summer of big change for the Leopards. With the Brentwood Centre having only limited availability and Oaklands unlikely to be able to stage all their practices, the Big Cats were in need of both a second venue and somewhere to train. Conveniently – or it so appeared at the time – the University of Essex had just built a £12million, 1,900 capacity arena in Colchester. A deal was done where Leopards would stage the majority of their games at the new venue – retaining Brentwood for the rest – as well as training there. Thomas Baker would remain coach, but the majority of the players would be the university’s team that played in the top division of college basketball.
It was hoped that with most of the team playing together on a Wednesday, along with extra college practices, the new-look Leopards would be able to challenge for promotion from Division Two. Except the Big Cats ended up playing in Division One as Team Northumbria closed down all of their sports programmes and Leopards’ bid to return to the top flight was successful.
It was a big challenge for the Big Cats, both on and off the court. The team had been put together assuming they’d play in Division Two and although they were allowed a second American, the costs of an import player went up from a few hundred to more than £4000 each. Both import players that the university had recruited came in late, but Leopards somehow founds the money to register and pay them – the days of college players being allowed to play Division One basketball in return for a scholarship were long over – but it proved to be far from plain sailing with either.
The much-hyped Essex Classic staged by the Big Cats at the Brentwood Centre provided some great pre-season basketball, albeit in front of disappointing crowds, but Leopards were a bit over-matched with several prospective players missing and they lost all four games. The other two friendlies – at Oaklands and Reading – provided victories, and the pre-season proved to be a glimpse of what would be a rollercoaster of a season.
Inheriting Team Northumbria’s fixture list was always going to lead to complexities – especially as they had asked for a long run of mid-season home games – and only one of Leopards’ three Trophy games were played before the league campaign opened, a defeat at former D2 rivals Thames Valley. The league season opened with a disappointing home loss against Barking Abbey (Basketball England had finally accepted the inevitable and allowed Kent to change their name) and with the imports nowhere to be seen Thomas Baker’s team lost their first five games back in Division One.
The Cup proved a welcome distraction. Top flight clubs were exempt until the third round, but Leopards’ late promotion meant they faced a trip to Derbyshire in the second round where they won a tight game against a Spartans side who went on to finish second in Division Three north. It was even closer at old rivals Westminster Warriors in the third round as Leopards edged home to set up a home tie against Nottingham Hoods. Ryan Westley’s side had already comfortably won in the league at the Uni of Essex, but revenge was sweet for Leopards as a dominant display saw them lead by as many as 35 points on the way to a 88-73 victory. Manchester Magic were next in line as Leopards returned to the Brentwood Centre and with American KJ Lee in the line-up for the first time, a place in the semi-finals was sealed with an 87-76 victory.
Asante Sandiford became Leopards’ second import the following week but it was Luke Mascall-Wright who dominated as Leopards collected their first league win of the season with a 95-84 victory against Leicester Warriors. Solent Kestrels, who went on to win the league and play-offs, proved too strong in the Cup semi-final but Leopards showed definite signs of improvement as wins against Reading in both the Trophy and league along with a home victory against Team Newcastle saw them go into the Christmas break in decent form – although Lee had been released by then as it became clear that he had arrived with a pre-existing injury
The New Year opened with contrasting losses at Solent and Hemel – the latter coming in heart-breaking style as Sandiford missed two free-throws to send Leopards out of the Trophy at Hemel. A bounce-back win at Barking was followed 24 hours later by a stunning display of three-point shooting which saw reigning champions Loughborough Riders were beaten 108-76. Those wins launched a run of eight victories in nine games – the sole loss coming at Derby – which ended any lingering thoughts of relegation and instead saw the Big Cats eying a play-off spot.
A narrow home loss against high-flying Worthing ended the run, but a two point victory at Leicester proved to be key as post-season play was ensured. To complete the rollercoaster, Leopards then lost their final five league games to become possibly the first team to start 0-5, then go 12-4 before finishing 5-0. That 12-14 record saw Leopards finish seventh in the table, a decent achievement considering their late promotion. That losing run continued into the play-offs as a depleted team – Sandiford capped a stroppy season by deciding to go on holiday rather than go to Worthing – saw a 107-85 loss at a Thunder side who had missed out on the league title on the head-to-head decider.
While the season had been a relative success on the court, financially it had been little short of a disaster. Paying crowds at Colchester had been somewhere between pitiful and non existent. With Leopards having to share gate receipts with the Uni of Essex they never got close to covering game-day expenses, and even if they had taken all the gameday income it’s questionable if they would have broken even on more than occasional basis. The partnership hadn’t got off to a good start with the university unilaterally deciding to give free tickets to all students for Leopards’ first game at their new home and it quickly became clear that there was no chance of getting a paying crowd at the venue. Other issues also arose, and Leopards announced at the beginning of March that the deal would end at the conclusion of the season and their final scheduled game in Colchester – a loss against Cavs – was switched to Brentwood and another chapter in the club’s history closed.
Leopards link up with University of Essex – May 25, 2018
Essex Leopards logo Essex Leopards and the University of Essex have joined forces, with the Big Cats and Essex Rebels’ women’s team playing home games at the Essex Sport Arena.
The 2018-19 NBL season will see the Leopards playing a majority of their home games at the newly-opened Essex Sport Arena at the University of Essex in Colchester.
The venue is already the home of the WBBL’s newest team, the Essex Rebels, giving fans the chance to watch double headers of men’s and women’s basketball at one of the UK’s premier venues of the game.
Welcoming the move, Dave Parry, Director of Sport at the University of Essex, commented “this is a really exciting development for basketball in Essex, as fans will be able to see the best players in the county playing at the best basketball facility in the region.
“We’ve been developing our own programme and teams over the past four years, and we now have two teams in the highest level of British Universities’ competition. In the National Leagues we have been supported by Sportsafe, the leading supplier of sports equipment in the U.K., and next season our women’s team, now named the Essex Rebels, are making the move to the WBBL. To welcome the best known and highest performing men’s team in the county to the Essex Sport Arena brings all of the best teams in the area under one roof.
The University of Essex is committed to helping to develop basketball in the U.K., and this is an exciting contribution to that mission”
Leopards’ General Manager Dave Ryan said “it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to play at a superb new venue and build our club in the process deckblatt application.
“We’re not abandoning our other home at the Brentwood Centre, we owe Roger Davison and the Leisure Trust a lot, but the chance to play at an unbelievable facility and utilise everything the University of Essex is far too good to turn down.
“It’s become increasingly obvious that, in order to succeed in the NBL, a link with a top class university is needed. But we don’t want to be a university team playing in a gym in front of a few family and friends, we want to build a successful club with a big fanbase who can move through Division Two and One and take Leopards back into the BBL.”
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker, who will assist with the men’s programme at University of Essex is excited about the link up between the two organisations: “It is exciting to think where this partnership could take the club. From my time here at Leopards we have consistently strived to be the best club we can be on and off the court and this partnership is another step on that journey. The collaborative effort involved now will certainly help us achieve our long term aims of being a BBL franchise.
“As the head coach, to have the prospect of coaching out of such a top facility like the Sports Arena at the University of Essex is an amazing opportunity and having the support of physiotherapy and performance analysis team that the University has to offer will be key for us to continue to look for ways to improve and will enable us to support the holistic development of all the players at the club.
Baker raring to go – May 31, 2018
It only be late May, but Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker is raring to go.
“I am really excited to start the season and I am really looking forward to being part of this next chapter for the club, as always I am honoured and privileged to be playing an important part of this clubs history” said Baker after the announcement that the Big Cats will link up with University of Essex, playing some home games at their impressive new Sports Arena facility.
“As we start to look towards pre-season in a few month’s time and also who will be on the roster this season, it is important we maximise the time we have together to ensure we approach this season in a professional manner and achieve promotion back to Division One.”
It will be Baker’s second full season as the Big Cats’ head coach having taken over with four games remaining in the 2015/16 campaign.
Thanks and goodbye to Levett – June 26, 2018
Essex Leopards would like to thank Levett Consultancy following the end of their three year sponsorship of the Big Cats.
Paul Levett’s company became the club’s first title sponsor in the summer of 2015 following our Division One title success the previous April, and have been a valuable part of the club for the last three years.
As the Thomas Baker and his team look forward to playing at both our new venue at University of Essex and the Brentwood Centre next season, if you are interested in any kind of sponsorship or partnership with the Big Cats please contact general manager Dave Ryan on 07828 470015 or email@example.com.
Big Leigh signs up June 29, 2018
Leopards have announced their first signing of the season, with centre Leigh Greenan returning for a third spell with the club. The seven footer played for National Cup winners Hemel Storm along with University of Essex last season, and is the first signing who will play for both the Big Cats and UofE.
Greenan came through the youth teams in his home top of Ipswich before linking up with Barking Academy where he first played for Leopards as a teenager during the 2007/8 and 2008/9 seasons.
He returned to Barking Abbey before signing a pro contract with the Big Cats for the 2010/11 season as Leopards finished runners-up in Division One.
Former England & GB junior international Greenan then returned to Ipswich, helping them to promotion in the 2012/13 season and spending five years with the Suffolk club before signing for Storm last summer.
Head coach Thomas Baker is delighted with his first signing of the summer: Signing Leigh is really important for us” he said.
“He is a model professional and always has a significant impact on every team he is on. From the conversations I’ve had with Leigh it is clear he is focussed on the season ahead. I really look forward to working with him as we look to put a team together to achieve promotion this year.
“Ipswich will forever be a massive part of Leighs journey and it is testament to what a great club they are when you see what a great player Leigh is. The signing of Leigh also solidifies the relationship between us and University of Essex. It is going to be an exciting journey for us this season and this signing is just the start of what is a bright future for the club.”
Greenan is excited about returning to the Big Cats “ I’m looking forward to an exciting season, going back to a club I played for when I was younger is exciting. I look forward to getting underway with the season and pushing for promotion to get the club back to Division One.”
The Director of Sport at the University of Essex, Dr Dave Parry, is pleased to see the partnership with Leopards already taking shape: “Our ambition is that the partnership between the University of Essex and Essex Leopards will be start of a journey towards the highest echelons of the sport.
“At Essex we are committed to supporting the development of dual-career athletes, and the signing of Leigh Greenan, one of our highest profiles scholarship athletes, to play for Leopards for the forthcoming season is symbolic of both our ambition and our continued commitment to an athlete-centred programme.”
Greenan will make his return in the Leopards’ kit at the Essex Classic at the Brentwood Centre on September 8/9th.
Leopards are back in Division One – July 26, 2018
Leopards have received the surprise news that they are back in the NBL Division One following one of the latest promotions in British basketball history.
The Big Cats applied for the vacant place in the top flight following Team Northumbria’s withdrawal, and were told the good news on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s a bit surreal, really” admitted general manager Dave Ryan. “We normally celebrate winning things by jumping around on the court and spraying Champaign, but I had a glass of blackcurrent in my kitchen instead!
“But it’s fantastic news for the club, and now we’re back where we believe we belong, we’re determined to make the most of the chance.
“There’s a lot of work to done over the next few weeks as we’ve got to work around Northumbria’s fixture list. But it’s a nice problem to have.
“With fantastic venues at the University of Essex and the Brentwood Centre, together with the support of both the university and BLT we think we’re in a great position to take advantage of the decision and move the club on to a new level. We’d like to thank Basketball England for giving us the chance to prove we belong in Division One.”
Leopards’ head coach Thomas Baker was delighted with the news his side were back in the top flight:
“It is a great feeling to be back in Division One, it was always the aim” he said. “So to be back playing in such a competitive league with great coaches and teams it’s going to be an exciting season. I am confident we can be competitive and demonstrate why we deserve to be there. This is just the beginning for the club and it is great to be playing at this level again, looking forward to getting the floor with the guys and starting the season strong.”
The original Leopards closed in the summer of 2003 following nine years in the BBL, and the current club was created the following year as fans of the Big Cats bought Ware Rebels (who were also on the verge of closure) and created Essex & Herts Leopards. Their first 13 years were spent in Division One, winning the league title and National Cup twice each as well as picking up both the play-off and National Trophy silverware, before a disastrous injury crisis in the closing stages of the 2016/17 season saw them relegated on a buzzer-beating shot at Lancashire Spinners.
Baker looks for Luke to be a force – August 22, 2018
Leopards have announced their second signing of the campaign , with former Great Britain under-20 international Luke Mascall-Wright the latest to sign up for Thomas Baker’s team.
The 6’4″ guard went to North Iowa Community College then played in Italy. He averaged 12 points, five rebounds and five assists per game while playing in Division Two for Ipswich while being ranked third in the country in scoring, fourth in three point shooting percentage, seventh in rebounding and third in assists when playing in EABL college basketball.
“Luke is a dynamic guard who can score in multiple ways” said Baker. “His athleticism separates him from other players. His ability to affect the game in different ways is really exciting. It is clear to see that he has been working on his game since leaving Ipswich and has travelled to different countries to play basketball. It is great to add his skillset to the team and I look forward to working with him this season for Leopards, I feel he can really help us make a difference.”
The newest Leopard is looking forward to playing for the Big Cats:” I had a great year last season playing professionally in Italy but due to family reasons I have been looking for a club close to home. I feel Essex Leopards will be a good fit for me. I am looking forward to competing in division one along side a group of talented guys and practice in some amazing facilities download fortnite without registration. “I can’t wait for the season to get started and to be part of a program heading in the right direction”
Alejandro jets in from Spain – August 29, 2018
Essex Leopards have used their new partnership with the University of Essex to add Spanish shooting guard Alejandro Hernandez Batista to their roster. The 6’2” guard graduated out of Canterbury Basketball Academy, Gran Canaria, where he played alongside GB under-18 International Tomiwa Sulaiman and will make his debut for the Big Cats in the Essex Classic.
Head coach Thomas Baker is delighted with his most recent signing: “Having met Alejandro and his family a few weeks ago it is clear to see the dedication he has as a young man to play the game at a high level” he said. “To be able to combine his studies at the University of Essex and Basketball with Leopards in Division One is going to be a great challenge for him, one in which I think he will excel. His desire to develop himself both on and off the court is great to see and he has a skill set to match that desire. I am excited to see him put on the Leopards uniform.”
Alejandro can’t wait to get started with the Big Cats: “I am really excited about the opportunity Essex presents for me as a player, as a student and as a person” he said. “It will be fascinating to play in such exceptional facilities. It is going to be great playing in Division One with the Leopards. Really looking forward to beginning the season and achieving great things.”
Mark Lloyd Head of Performance Basketball at UofE is looking forward to seeing the Spaniard in action: “We are delighted to welcome Alejandro to the Performance Programme at the University of Essex” he commented. “Having just graduated from the highly respected Canterbury Academy in Spain he arrives with a fantastic fundamental skill set – but what is even more exciting is his tremendous attitude and desire to develop as an athlete, student and ultimately high level basketball player. I really look forward to seeing him on the floor at the Essex Arena!”
Winter is coming for Leopards – August 31, 2018
Rory Winter has been announced as Leopards’ fourth signing of the campaign as they look to return to Division One in style.
The 6’2″ guard is a dynamic defender with relentless work ethic. Described by coach Thomas Baker as tough, smart and having a dogged attitude, he played the second half of last season in NBL Division Two with Ipswich season.
“Rory is as tough as they come” said Baker. “His relentless work ethic is his greatest asset. He is always in the gym and puts time in both his physical condition and technical skillset, his hunger and desire to get better is great to see. I am excited to have him play the point guard spot for us this season and I feel his leadership and commitment is something that will aid us in being competitive in D1 this year. Like Sam I am excited to work with Rory in both university and NBL competitions.”
As he prepares to make his debut in next week’s Essex Classic, Winter is clearly delighted to be joining the Big Cats: “I am excited and privileged to be playing in the highest level of the National Basketball League with the Leopards, a club rich in basketball history” he said. “I can’t wait to be playing on such an exciting roster and getting to work during the season with some highly experienced staff.”
Roger’s back with Leopards – September 2, 2018
Essex Leopards are delighted to announce that assistant coach Roger Malpass will return to the club for the 2018/19 season.
“We’re really pleased that Roger has been able to commit to remaining part of the club for the new campaign” said general manager Dave Ryan. “Living in Milton Keynes, it’s a huge amount of travel for Roger and his wife Franci, but we’ve worked through it, and it’s great that they will still be part of the Big Cats’ family as we begin life at the University of Essex and the Brentwood Centre.”
Malpass is looking forward to another season on the Leopards’ bench: “I’m delighted to be returning to Leopards for what will be my seventh season” he said. “With the clubs transition into a new era it’s an exciting programme to be part of the programme. The partnership with UofE is a huge opportunity to move the club forward. Coach Baker and I have had a few conversations regarding the coming season and I’m looking forward to helping him navigate our return to D1.”
Baker is pleased to have his right hand man return: “It is great to welcome Roger back” he commented.
“He is an integral part of the Leopards’ family and has become a great friend of mine of the recent years. His support and commitment to the club and the journey we have been on has been excellent and I am pleased to be working with him for another season. I’m excited for the season ahead.”
Sam’s the new man for Leopards – September 4, 2018
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker has announced his latest signing for the 2018/19 season, Sam Newman a 6’5″ guard. The Brit led Division Two in three-point shooting when he last played in England, while averaging 18ppg. He was EABL (the top league for college players in England) MVP in his last season with Copleston High School.
Newman signed for University of Alberta in Canada on full Scholarship in 2016-17 season, and will now continue his education at the University of Essex as part of the Big Cats’ partnership with Colchester based institution.
“Sam is a great person as well as a great player” said Baker. “His ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter is exceptional and I have seen first what he can do as he dominated the EABL during his time as a student athlete at Copleston.
“He is a great team mate and will really help us with our young core in playing together. He has developed both physically and technically since then and I am really excited to have him on board, and can’t wait to work with him in both university and NBL competitions.”
The new Leopard will make his debut in the Essex Classic and is raring to go: “I’m excited to get this season up and running with all the new guys coming in and to play alongside teammates from my past. “After multiple years playing in Division Two as a teenager at Ipswich I can’t wait to compete and showcase my progression at the next level with the Leopards.”
Baker excited about Classic – September 2, 2018
LEOPARDS’ coach Thomas Baker can’t wait to see his side on the new Brentwood Centre court as the Big Cats prepare to host the Essex Classic over the weekend.
British All-Stars Championship winners London Lions along with Vipers from Illinois and Team USA Select join the Leopards in a two-day basketball extravaganza which will see four games on both Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s going to be a great showcase for the sport” said Baker. “I’m really excited to see the team against one of the best teams in this country and some competitive teams from across the pond. The guys are eager to get on the floor and the show the fans what we can do this year. I think we will surprise some teams.
“A special mention has to go to Tony Shaw whose relentless work ethic has create a great event for us all to be a part of.”
The tournament s widely regarded as the biggest pre-season competition in British basketball, with tickets currently on sale at www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk, and will also be available on the door.
While Lions are one of the biggest sides in the British Basketball League, Vipers compete in the American Basketball Association – the biggest competition outside the NBA system – and USA Select are a well-established touring side comprising of American players looking to gain a professional contract in Europe.
The Big Cats are expected to field a new-look line-up including 7 foot centre Lee Hodges (formally Leigh Greenan), Spanish guard Alejandro Hernandez Batista, Englishmen Rory Winter and Sam Newman, as well as at least two American players.
TC is a Big Cat – September 7, 2018
As Leopards prepare to stage the Essex Classic at the Brentwood Centre this weekend, they have announced the signing of Tom Child. The 6″1″ guard came through the highly regarded Barking Abbey academy before moving on to the University of Essex last season.
After gaining experience with Division Three side Essex Blades last season. Child is thrilled to sign for this Big Cats: “I am extremely excited to be signing for Leopards and can’t wait to play with an exciting new roster* he said. ” I’m really looking forward to the season getting underway. I am very grateful for this opportunity to play in NBL division one and I can’t wait to test myself against the competition.”
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker is excited about his latest signing: “it is great to add Tom to the roster” he commented. “He has developed a lot over the last few years and it is exciting to have him playing for Leopards this season.
“He has a great attitude and a desire to improve and I think he has huge potential and will only grow week by week during the combined programme at University of Essex and Leopards.”
Wesley returns for Leopards – September 5, 2018
As Leopards prepare for the weekend’s Essex Classic at the Brentwood Centre, the Big Cats are delighted to announce the return of guard Wesley Moore destroi. The youngster joined the Big Cats last season as part of their link up with Oaklands Academy, and having graduated from the Hertfordshire college he has now moved to Leopards’ new partners at University of Essex.
Moore proved to be a valuable member of the Leopards’ team which finished fourth in NBL Division Two, and he is looking forward linking up with our new roster as we prepare for life in the top flight once again:
“Returning to Leopards this season is a great opportunity especially playing in Division One where it will be very competitive” said Moore.
“Most of the guys are new so it’s exciting to play with them and grow as a team throughout the season.”
Head coach Thomas Baker is delighted to retain the services of Moore: “Wesley has matured a lot in recent years” he said.
“I have known him since he was a junior playing in county teams as an under-13. Fast forward a few years and He was my captain in the EABL for Oaklands last season where under his stewardship we had some really successful moments.
“He had to remain patient for his opportunity at times last season for the Leopards but I feel he has huge potential and I am really excited to be working with him again and being a part of his journey as a student-athlete. “I feel his attitude to get better can not be questioned and he will add to our young core with the desire and willingness to give his all every time he steps on the floor.”
Essex Classic day one round-up – September 9, 2018
London Lions go into day two of the Essex Classic top of the table after a pair of comfortable wins at the Brentwood Centre, on Saturday.
Vince Macauley’s side steamrollered their way through Team USA Select and hosts Essex Leopards, and barring a mathematical miracle will compete in Sunday’s final.
Tickets for today’s four games are available on the door
The Lions announced the return of Jonathan James on the morning of the tournament, and he made an instant impact in the tournament’s opening game with 13 points in a 69-29 blowout against Team USA.
London held the American scoreless from the field in the first seven minute period, and never looked back after leading 19-1 at the first break. Captain for the day Andre Lockhart and Brandon Peel each finished with 12 points for Lions as they opened the Classic in style.
Game two proved to be a bit more competitive as Leopards started well against Libertyville Vipers before fading to lose 69-39. Lee Hodges (formerly Leigh Greenhan) led the Big Cats with 13 points with Dion Easton adding six on his Leopards debut. Devonte Coe and Jabari Alex finished with 13 apiece for the Vipers.
The third game proved to be comfortably the best of the day as the two American sides went head-to-head. Team USA Select as a big three from Taylor Thomas down the stretch set them up for a 62-60.
It was nip and tuck throughout the game, with Vipers seeing their 14-12 first period lead halved to 30-29 lead at half-time. Vipers led 47-44 at the final break, but it went down to the wire. Thomas’ trey was answered by an and-one from Alex, only for Thomas to hit a jumper to put his side ahead before Johnson wrapped things up at the line.
The day’s final game saw the young Leopards, missing three probably starters, over run by Lions at time as the BBL side ran out 72-39 winners. Peel was in imperious form with 18 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes of action as Lions again started well with a 27-6 first period lead.
Chuck Duru hit half of the Big Cats points in the first quarter with a triple, but Sam Newman and Tom Child also scored from the Land of Plenty as Leopards opened the second period with an 11-6 run.
A four-point play from Wes Moore – Leopards’ only returning player from last season – helped the hosts keep the scoreboard ticking over, but a pair of Jordan Spencer free-throws sent Lions into the half-time break with a 39-21 lead.
The third period proved to be evenly matched, with Hodges hitting six straight points for Leopards before Andre Lavinier cut the deficit to 52-33 at the final break.
That proved to be only a brief respite for the Big Cats as Lions stepped up a gear in the fourth period, scoring 20 straight points in the first five and a half minutes before scores from Dion Easton, Duru and Newman sparked a 6-0 run to wrap up the scoring for the day.
Hodges finished with 11 points for Leopards with Newman adding seven and Rory Winter six, while Robinson finished with 20 and Spencer added 13 for Lions.
Essex Classic – day two round-up – September 10, 2018
London Lions lifted the inaugural Essex Classic title with a 101-50 victory against Team USA Select, on Sunday. Vince Macauley’s side led from tip-to-buzzer to complete a fourth win in the competition at the Brentwood Centre.
Lamar Roberts was the unlikely top scorer for the BBL side as the big man finished with 23 points in under 12 minutes as his team piled on the pressure down the stretch. Lions never looked back as they opened with the game’s first nine points, with Ladarius Tubb (19), Brandon Peel (13) and Jonathon James (12) also finishing in double figures.
Peel was named tournament MVP, finishing with 55 points and 30 rebounds in the four short-format games. Team USA, who had edged tight games against Libertyville Vipers and Leopards to reach the final, were led by 14 points from Kevin May and 13 from captain Josh Flowers.
The third place play-off saw Vipers hold off a late run from Leopards to take bronze with a 75-67 victory.
The Big Cats had trailed 62-46 at the final break, but outscored the Americans 21-12 before running out of time. Thomas Baker’s Leopards had led 19-17 at the first break, thanks partly to a pair of treys by Andre Lavinier, but Vipers took a 34-33 into the interval before a 28-13 third period put the visitors in chaA Lavinier and-one saw Leopards start the fourth period well, but although they chipped away at Vipers’ lead, their late run wasn’t quite enough.
Captain Sam Newman, along with debutant Luke Mascall-Wright led the hosts with 11 points apiece.
The day had started with Lions completing a perfect qualifying round record with a 77-62 victory against the Vipers.
Lions rushed into a 10-0 lead after three minutes, and were 25-5 ahead at the end of the first seven-minute period.
Vipers actually outscored the London team after that, going into the half-time break trailing 45-22 before winning the third period 19-14, and the teams shared 36 points in the final stanza.
Despite going 4/12 at the foul line, former GB international Flo Larkai led the Lions with 16 points and five rebounds. Peel finished with 14 points, also adding five boards while Labarius Tabb added 12 points and Justin Robinson added seven assists to his 11 points. Dee Woods led Vipers with 15 points while Jabari Alex added 14 points and five boards.
That result left Vipers needing Leopards to beat a much-changed Team USA Select team to qualify for the final, but it was their fellow Americans who reached the final by beating the Big Cats 68-59.
It was a strong finish from the visiting side that sealed a place in the championship game as they held Leopards to just six points in the final four minutes of the game.
Twenty-one points from Flowers and 15 from Corey Hicks proved key for Select, while Hodges led Leopards with 17 points and five boards, with Newman adding nine points and five assists.
Chuck signs up for Big Cats – September 12, 2018
Chuck Duru has become the latest player to sign up for the Leopards. The 6’3″ guard/forward joins after two years at Hemel Storm having also played in Division One for Team Northumbria. He made his debut in last weekend’s Essex Classic, getting on the scoreboard in all four of Leopards’ games cyberlink powerdvd herunterladen.
Duru is looking forward to playing with the Big Cats: “I’m excited to be joining the Leopards on their return to Division One” he said. “It was an easy decision to sign with an ambitious and welcoming club with an amazing fan base. I look forward to getting the season underway!”
Head Coach Thomas Baker is pleased with his new addition: “Chuck has impressed me over the last few days” he commented. “Coming in from the outside as he isn’t studying at the university was never going to be easy but Chuck has already shown the willingness to be part of the journey we are going on this year.
“He has a great attitude and can help us in multiple ways at both ends. His is tough and likes to compete. Once he understands how we are going to play this year I am confident he will be a great addition to the squad.”
Victory in Derby – October 4, 2018
Leopards avoided a potential banana skin as they progressed to the National Cup third round with a 111-99 win at Team Derby Spartans, on Sunday. The Big Cats will now travel to old rivals Westminster Warriors in the last 32, with the game expected to take place at Capital City Academy on Sunday October 13.
Leopards were pushed all the way by a Derby side expected to win Division Three North before they came good with a 22-4 run in the final four minutes to advance in a competition they have won three times. Luke Mascall-Wright completed a stunning weekend with 30 points, with Sam Newman adding 26 and Lee Hodges 21.
There was little to choose between the sides in the first period as treys from Newman, Andre Lavinier and Mascall-Wright helped them into a 22-20 lead. Late scores from Newman and Hodges saw the Big Cats go into the locker room at the world famous Repton School lead 45-39 but for the first time this season they failed to take control of the game in the third period as a barrage of treys from M Boyd saw the home side go into the final break 78-72 ahead despite Mascall-Wright draining three triples of his own.
Despite four points apiece from Hodges, and Rory Winter along with another Mascall-Wright trey, Thomas Baker’s team still trailed 88-83 going into the final five minutes. A pair of Newman scores from the Land of Plenty kept the visitors in touch without eating into the lead before Mascall-Wright truly broke free with 11 points in a 13-0 run to give the Big Cats a 103-95 lead. Some excellent defence on Boyd by Alejandro Hernandez Batista took him out of the game and three missed foul shots from four attempts effectively ended the hosts’ resistance, before a score from Hodges and four straight foul shots by Winter ended the game as a contest, and Newman wrapped up the win with a dunk.
Luke seals Cup win – 15 October 2018
A massive trey from Luke Mascall-Wright sealed a 97-95 National Cup victory at Westminster as the Big Cats held off a dogged Warriors side to set up a last 16 tie against either Nottingham Hoods or London Westside at the University of Essex on Sunday October 28.
Leopards raced out of the blocks to lead 10-3, but a timeout from Warriors’ coach Jon Johnson revitalised his side, and despite Rory Winter’s three-point buzzer beater, Thomas Baker’s side trailed 29-20 at the first break.
The Big Cats were 35-24 down with four minutes of the second period to play but rallied to only trail by two at half-time and a stunning third period saw them take a 71-62 lead into the final period.
Warrior responded with a run and it was nip and tuck throughout the fourth period, but it was Mascall-Wright who struck the dagger blow to put Leopards into the next round.
Chuck Duru led the Big Cats for the first time, finishing with 21 points, with Lee Hodges adding 15 and Winter 14.
Hoods hammered in Cup – October 28, 2018
Leopards powered their way into the National Cup quarter-final as Nottingham Hoods were beaten 88-73 at Essex Arena on Sunday. The scoreline didn’t reflect the domination of the Big Cats who trailed for just 16 seconds and led by as many as 35 points in the third period. Leopards will now host Manchester Magic in the quarter-finals at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday November 18.
Luke Mascall-Wright came off the bench to lead Thomas Baker’s team with 18 points and seven rebounds. Andre Lavinier drained four of his seven three-point attempts to finish with 14 points, while captain Sam Newman had 11 points, six assists and three rebounds before leaving the action early with a knee injury.
Lee Hodges finished with a massive 20 rebounds to go with his 11 points and four assists as his dominance in the pain freed space for Leopards to drain 11 of their 26 three-point attempts.
Slavik opened the scoring for the visitors, answered by Tom Child, and treys from Newman and Findlay Wood gave the home side a lead they would never lose. Two treys apiece from Mascall-Wright and Lavinier gave Leopards a 26-13 first period lead, and the barrage from downtown continued Alejandro Batista and Lavinier hit from long range to send the Big Cats into the locker room with a 48-28 lead.
Duro got in on the act in the third period , draining a pair of treys on his way to ten points in the quarter, and Wes Flaherty’s lay-up saw the lead peak at 69-34 midway through the stanza,
Lavinier sunk his final trey of the game to hep Leopards lead 77-51 at the final break, and although they took their foot off the gas in fourth quarter, they comfortably closed out the win.
Meher (19) and Slavik (15) led the Hoods.
Easton signs up for Big Cats – November 15, 2018
Bermudian guard/forward Dion Easton junior is the latest new recruit for the Leopards, and he is excited to sign for the Big Cats as they prepare for Sunday’s National Cup quarter-final against Manchester Magic, at the Brentwood Centre (4pm).
“I’m excited to represent the club this season” Easton. “Being from a small island I’ve never had the opportunity to play the sport I love on a stage like this and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Easton made his debut in last week’s loss at Worthing, and he enjoyed the game despite the loss: “It was great to make my season debut with the lads”.
“It was unfortunate we couldn’t get the result we wanted but I feel like we took strides forward as a team. We played a tough Worthing team and despite the scoreline I feel like we held our own.”
Coach Thomas Baker is pleased with his newest addition: “Dion is a great professional” he said.
“He works hard and always wants to improve. He has shown excellent leadership skills over the last few week.
“He adds experience where we need it but also he will allow to approach games differently. I’m excited to work with Dion this year and see him develop throughout his time with us.”
KJ signs up for Leopards – November 18, 2018
As Leopards prepare for today’s National Cup quarter-final against Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre, they have announced the signing of forward KJ Lee.
The 6’6″ Boston-born player joins up after an illustrious career at Stonehill College in the States.
KJ has already played with most of his Leopards’ team mates for the University of Essex, and will bring some much-needed height to Thomas Baker’s team.
Leopards through to Cup semi-final – November 19, 2018
A strong second period proved to be key as Leopards powered their way into the National Cup semi-final, on Sunday. A big crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw Thomas Baker’s side beat to Manchester Magic 87-76 to progress to the last four for the first time since winning the competition in 2012.
Luke Mascall-Wright came off the bench to lead the Big Cats with 18 points and six rebounds, while captain Sam Newman added 14 points and four assists. Hodges finished with a ten point, 15 rebound double-double, while Rory Winter and new American signing KJ Lee – who was only cleared to play the previous afternoon – added 11 apiece in a balanced scoring effort which also saw Chuck Duru finish with ten points. Leopards’ ability to push the ball proved to be vital as they outscored the visitors 29-12 on the break and also punished Magic with 21 points off their turnovers.
Duru scored from the Land of Plenty to open the game, but there was little to choose between the teams in the early stages and although Lee Hodges made it a five point game with a free-throw, Magic closed the gap to 18-17 at the first break große datei herunterladen test.
Duru again scored from downtown to open the second period, there was still only a point in at the midway stage of the quarter before Lee launched what proved to be the key run. Newman hit back-to-back threes and Andre Lavinier also drained from downtown as the hosts scored 17 unanswered points to lead 42-28 going into the half-time break.
Leopards kept the visitors at arm’s length during the rest of the game, and Lee’s triple sent them into the final break a 66-52 lead. Magic never got closer than eight points in the fourth period – when Andre Gayle hit a triple to make it 78-70 – and a dagger three from Wood sealed it with 90 seconds remaining.
Gayle finished with a game-high 25 points – although he needed 22 shots and four visits to the foul line – while Jonathon Barnes had an impressive 19 boards to go with his 15 points.
Baker delighted with import additions – November 23, 2018
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker is looking to move up the NBL Division One table following the signing of two American players for his team. KJ Lee made his debut is last Sunday’s National Cup win against Manchester Magic, while forward Asante Sandiford has now been cleared by Basketball England and will make his debut in Saturday’s game against Leicester Warriors at Essex Sports Arena.
“It is great to add KJ and Asante to the team” said Baker. “They add a new dimension to the team and it signifies a new chapter in our season. We have been working tirelessly to get both of these guys in and I am super excited now to get them on the court.
“Over the last month we have been getting to know each other and getting these two familiar with what we run, it is going to be great to see them step out on court for the Leopards. They are great to work with and I believe they can help us push on now and pick up some wins.”
Both players have already teamed for the University of Essex up with the majority of the Big Cats, and Lee was delighted with last Sunday’s win against Magic: “It was great to finally play with my Leopards teammates after having to watch the previous games from the sidelines” he said.
!It felt good to get on the court and get a win with an awesome crowd cheering us on. I believe this group has a ton of talent and the more we play together, the more chemistry we will build. Personally, I not only want to win as many games as possible, but I want to hone my leadership skills both on and off the court.
“Although we won our game last weekend, I believe that we can clean up on a few minor mistakes that will make us that much better. Bright things are ahead!”
After travelling to Amsterdam and back on Wednesday to get his work permit activated, Sandiford can’t wait to get on the court tomorrow: “I am very excited to join my brothers and make my season debut with the Leopards family this weekend.
“It has always been one of my goals to become a professional basketball player and I am very grateful for the Leopards Organization giving me this opportunity! I am looking for to the Leopards community/fans to be there in full force because we love your support. Go Leopards!”
Leopards collect first league win – November 25, 2018
Luke Mascall-Wright led the way for the second straight week as Leopards collected their first league win of the season with a 95-84 victory against Leicester Warriors, on Saturday. Mascall-Wright finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Big Cats only trailed for 51 seconds in a commanding performance. Captain Sam Newman added 11 points, nine assists and six boards while Lee Hodges missed out on a double-double by a single rebound as he finished with 15 points.
In a balanced scoring effort Findlay Wood added nine points, with Rory Winter, KJ Lee and Asante Sandiford chipping in with eight points apiece, although the latter’s debut was marred as he picked up two technical fouls and was ejected in the fourth period.
Three-point shooting proved to be the key for the home side as Leopards drained 14 of their 30 shots from the Land of Plenty, while their dominance on the boards saw them out-rebound the Warriors 46-30 as well as dishing out 33 assists.
The sides shared 46 first period points before Leopards took control with a 16-5 run to open the second quarter, and they went into the locker room leading 52-40 ahead.That lead steadily increased during the third stanza as the Big Cats took an 80-60 lead into the final break.But the visitors fought their way back into the game with ten unanswered points before a big trey from Newman wrapped up the win.
Pakadashe Chingombe led the visitors with 28 points and eight rebounds, with Lamin Willan adding 22 points for an eight-man Warriors side.
Leopards make it three on the bounce – November 25, 2018
A dominant performance against Reading Rockets saw Leopards make it three straight victories as they won 85-69 at Essex Sports Arena, on Sunday. The Big Cats now need to beat an already-eliminated Hemel Storm side in their final group game of the National Trophy to progress to a home semi-final against Loughborough Riders.
Captain Sam Newman hit six three pointers as he led his side with 24 points, while Asante Sandiford came off the bench to finish with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes of action. Findlay Wood scored seven points in the first five minutes to get Leopards off to a good start, and ended up with 15 points and four rebounds, while Lee Hodges added 11 points and seven rebounds. Luke Mascall-Wright completed a good weekend with ten points, five rebounds and as many assists as Leopards again shared the ball well to finish with 21 assists. They also comfortably out-rebounded their opponents again, 43-33. AJ Carr (18) and captain Danny Carter (16) were the only two Rockets in double figures as Leopards led from tip-to-buzzer.
Hodges hit the game’s first three points, and with Wood and Newman both draining from the Land of Plenty the Big Cats rushed into an 18-5 lead before going into the first break 20-8 ahead. Although Sandiford hit a trey to open the second quarter, Rockets controlled the tempo of the most of the period before a Mascall-Wright triple and a Sandiford jumper sent Leopards into the locker room with a 36-29 lead.
A 9-0 run early in the third period put the hosts up by 13, and Newman hit four triples in the quarter as Leopards outscored Rockets 28-18 to take a commanding 64-47 lead into the final break.
Back-to-back treys from Wood saw that advantage balloon to 24 early in the fourth period, and the Big Cats were never in trouble as they closed out the win.
Baker philosophical after Cup defeat – December 10, 2018
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker had mixed emotions after the Big Cats lost their National Cup quarter-final 81-70 against Solent Kestrels, on Sunday.
“Overall I am proud we got to a semi-final in our first season together, having said that once we got there I am gutted for us that we couldn’t get to the final” he said. “We showed we can go toe-to-toe with the best team in this division which gives me pride and excitement as to what we can achieve this year, however the result serves as harsh reminder that we must play our style for 40 minutes if we are to beat the best teams this league has to offer.
“Credit to Coach Guymon and Solent, they punished us when we turned the over ball and it cost us in key moments. We will regroup and improve this week as we look to close out this first half of the season with good performances against two tough teams in Thames Valley and Reading Rockets.”
Sam Newman, the Leopards captain, couldn’t hide his disappointment after the defeat: “”It’s wasn’t the performance or score we were looking today” he said. “Credit to Solent who showed why they’ve had success early on in this season. We went away from what had made us successful in our recent games so we’ll be looking to put in some good performances in our double header next week.”
Rockets shot down by Leopards – December 17, 2018
Leopards will go into the Christmas break on a high after beating old rivals Reading Rockets 101-90 at Rivermead, on Sunday. In contrast to their defeat at Thames Valley Cavaliers, Leopards led for almost the whole game at Reading as they completed a third victory of the season against the Rockets pdf downloaden als powerpoint.
Treys from Newman and Wood helped Leopards start strongly as they rushed into a 16-4 lead and although Trae Pemberton dragged his team back into the game, Newman’s jump shot sent his team into the first break with a 23-18 lead.
A barrage of treys from the hosts saw them tie the game at 39 with four and a half minutes left in the first half, but as Rockets continued to suffer from foul trouble Leopards went on a 10-0 run, and Newman again beat the buzzer to give his side a 56-45 lead going into the locker room.
A switch to a zone defence by the hosts saw Leopards struggle in the first four minutes of the second half as Rockets went on an 11-3 run, with only Wood’s trey troubling the scorer.
The game was nip and tuck for the rest of the quarter despite Sandiford being forced to sit down after collecting his fourth foul, but Newman again came up good as he sunk a trey to beat the buzzer and send his side into the final break with a 74-71 lead. Hodges kept his side ahead in the early stages of the fourth period, and Sandiford returned to the action with an and-one to make it a seven point game.
Mascall-Wright kept his side ahead from the Land of Plenty and he repeated the act to effectively seal the win before Rory Winter broke the century mark with a trey to wrap things up,
Hodges led the way with his second double-double of the weekend with 24 points and 16 rebounds, with Newman matching his scoring and adding seven assists, four steals and three boards. Mascall-Wright added 23 points, while Sandiford finished with 18 points.
Leopards’ inside scoring proved to be key as they hit an impressive 74 percent of their two-point efforts. Reading’s American pair Pemberton and AJ Carr led the way with 25 and 22 points respectively.
Trophy heart-break for Leopards – January 8, 2019
Leopards’ Trophy hopes were ended in agonising fashion at Hemel Storm on Sunday as they went down 95-94 at Hemel Storm. American forward Asante Sandiford had the chance to put his side into semi-final but he failed to connect on a pair of free-throws with just 0.6 seconds remaining before missing the tip-in on the buzzer.
Sandiford had led the Big Cats with 37 points and 12 rebounds in a high-scoring game which saw the lead repeatedly change. The teams were tied at 93 with a minute left before Lee Hodges converted a lay-up off Luke Mascall-Wright’s lay-up, only to Levi Noel’s trey put his side ahead with 32 seconds on the clock.
Both sides missed before Sandiford was left with the ball in his hands and seven seconds on the clock. He drove to the basket and was fouled Leome Francis, but with the home fans in full voice he missed both foul shorts to send Leopards out of the competition.
Mascall-Wright finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Sam Newman added seven assists to his ten points. Former Hemel big man Hodges finished with a 13 point, ten rebound double-double, and his ex-Storm team-mate Chuck Duru came off the bench to add 12 points and seven boards.
Mascall-Wright had opened the scoring with a triple, and an assist from Sandiford to give Duru a lay-up saw Leopards lead 29-25 at the first break. A driving lay-up from Mascall-Wright and a Hodges dunk saw Leopards keep ahead and Sandiford’s basket kept them up by two at the mid-stage of the second quarter.
Former Leopard Shaq Lewis briefly gave the hosts the lead with a trey, but Findlay Wood answered from the Land of Plenty and three straight three-point plays from Sandiford saw the Big Cat go into the locker room with a 57-51 lead at the half-time break.
A poor start to the second half saw Hemel take control with a ten straight points before Sandiford broke the run and Leopards stayed in touch and Mascall-Wright drained from downtown to cut Hemel’s lead to 77-76 at the final break. A Hodges lay-up an a three-point play by Sandiford tied the game and Mascall-Wright again levelled the score at 91 going into the final three minutes. Sandiford and Levi Noel exchanged baskets to set up the grandstand finish, but ultimately Leopards came up just short and will now look to concentrate on getting a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
Blaine Freckleton led the hosts with 35 points, while Francis added 22 and Noel 13.
Baker: “we were unbelievable at times” – January 14, 2019
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker couldn’t his delight as his side moved up to ninth in the Division One table with a pair of victories over the weekend. A tip-in from captain Sam Newman sealed a 65-63 win at Barking Abbey on Saturday before reigning league champions Loughborough Riders were hammered 108-76 with an incredible 20 three-pointers sunk by the Big Cats.
“What a fantastic weekend for us” said Baker. “After last weekend’s heartbreak it was great to have an end game situation go in our favour. To pull off a win against Barking was a great way to start. Defensively we made adjustments which helped us in both games but offensively against Loughborough we were unbelievable at times.
“The freedom we play at allows players to make decisions that they are confident with and the way we shot the ball was exceptional. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where a team has made 20 three-point shots. It was incredible. This was exactly the performance we needed to keep us going on our journey.
“It is going to be a interesting few weeks for us, we are locked in to chase down the teams above in the play-off positions. We will be taking it one game at a time.”
Luke feels the force as Leopards blitz Riders – January 15, 2019
A stunning display of three-point shooting saw Leopards hammer reigning champions Loughborough Riders 108-76 at Essex Sports Arena, on Sunday. The Big Cats hit an incredible 20 three-pointers with just 32 shots in what was probably the best shooting performance in the club’s 15-year history.
They were led by Luke Mascall-Wright who drained a stunning eight triples from nine attempts on his way to a 36-point night, adding five assists, three steals and a couple of rebounds for good measure.
Leopards led for the whole game against Riders with Sam Newman doing much of the early damage as he finished with six-from-10 three-point shooting on the way to a 22 point, seven rebound, six assist night.
Asante Sandiford added nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals to his 15 points despite fouling out, while Lee Hodges had 13 points before joining his fellow big man on the bench.
Findlay Wood set the tone for the evening with a score the from Land of Plenty, and with Newman hitting two threes, Wood scoring another and Mascall-Wright also getting in on the act, Leopards were 20-8 up after six minutes.
Newman was unstoppable at this stage, hitting another three triples as the Big Cats went into the first break 30-17 ahead and a trey from Andre Lavinier made it 39-24 at the mid-stage of the second period.
Mascall-Wright dropped his second three to put the Big Cats 46-26 up with three first half minutes remaining, only to see Riders halve that lead to 46-36 with a 12-2 run thanks partly to five points from Niall Harris going into the locker room.
Hodges scored six of Leopards first nine second half points and despite a 7-0 run from the visitors it was predictably Mascall-Wright who scored from downtown to give the Big Cats a 72-58 lead going into the final break.
Chuck Duro joined the trey-fest to open the fourth period before Mascall-Wright hit another pair of triples and then scored eight staright points as Leopards they killed off the game with 23 unanswered points to move them up to ninth in the table herunterladen.
Tony Yome led the visitors with 13 points, with Alex Roberts adding 12 Lucian Cristofis and Harris getting 11 apiece.
Comeback kids make it six win in eight games – January 21
Leopards completed the first half of the league season with a stunning 94-90 win at Nottingham Hoods to chalk up their sixth Division One in the last eight games. There was little sign of the comeback that was to follow as the Big Cats for almost all of the first three period, going into the opening break 35-25 down and trailing 60-49 at half-time. But they chipped away at the deficit in third period before taking control in the fourth to collect the victory.
A pair of Lee Hodges free-throws levelled the score after Welle had given the hosts the lead, but that was the only time they were on level terms until the fourth period. The home side rush into a 10-2 lead, and although triples from Hodges and Sam Newman made it a two point game, the hosts continued to pour in the points on their way to a ten point lead at the first break.
Hodges cut the lead to eight with the opening score of the second quarter but five straight points from Wells made it a 19 point game before a trey from his compatriot Sandiford cut Leopards’ deficit to 11 going into the locker room. Newman kept his side in the game with seven early points in the third period before Sandiford hit five straight to make it a seven point game midway through the quarter.
That deficit was cut to four as Findlay Wood drained from the Land of Plenty but, although the hosts again took a double-digit lead, back-to-back Luke Mascall-Wright scores followed up by a Rory Winter triple sent Leopards into the final break trailing 79-75.
Captain Newman hit a triple to open the fourth period before Lee Hodges’ dunk gave his side their first lead of the night with nine minutes remaining. With the momentum now in Leopards’ favour, scores from Mascall-Wright and Sandiford completed a 12-0 run to give the visitors a five point lead.
A pair of scores from Delaney Powell helped Hoods regain the lead but a pair of driving lay-ups from Sandiford put Leopards into a lead they would never lose. Mascall-Wright made it a three point game with two minutes on the clock and Newman effectively iced the win with a trey 57 seconds from time.
Sandiford finished with a team-high 28 points and five assists, with Newman adding 20 points and four assists. Hodges had 18 points while Luke Mascall-Wright added 12 points and seven rebounds. Wellerd the hosts with a 31 point, 11 rebound double-double, with Powell adding 19 points and eight assists.
Luke leaves, may the Force be with him – January 23, 2019
It’s thanks and goodbye from the Leopards to guard Luke Mascall-Wright as he sets off to play in Italy for the rest of the season. His 20 points, four assists and three rebounds in Sunday’s 91-79 win against Bradford Dragons were a fitting end to Mascall-Wright’s season with the Big Cats before he sets off to play Series D basketball with a club near Napoli.
“What can I say, it is gutting to lose someone of Luke’s quality” admitted coach Thomas Baker. He has consistently been an important member of this team and he has been integral to what we are trying to achieve this year and I think his recent performances just go to show how good he is and how effective he can be at this level. It has been a pleasure to be part of his journey, I wish him the best in Italy and I am thankful for everything he has done for us this season so far.”
Mascall-Wright clearly had mixed emotions following Sunday’s win: “I’m glad I get to go out on a high winning our last four games but I’m sad I won’t be able to see the journey through with my brothers I believe they will do great things and I wish them the best of luck” he said. “On Saturday we got a huge win on the road against Nottingham who beat us in the reverse fixture but we have grown so much since the start of the season we understand what we have to do to win games and believe in each others abilities which we showed today in a good team performance against a solid Bradford team.”
Leopards hope to announce a new signing within the next week, but general manager Dave Ryan was disappointed to see Ipswich-based Mascall-Wright depart: “I don’t think anyone who saw Luke’s performance against Loughborough last week will forget that. It’s a massive blow to see him leave, but we wish him all the luck in the world and he’ll always be welcome at the Leopards.”
Leopards add Daniel – January 30, 2019
IT’S one in, one out as Leopards prepare for Sunday’s game against Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre, tip-off 4pm. Guard/forward Luke Mascall-Wright has moved to a club in Italy but the Big Cats have quickly swooped to sign German big man Daniel Wagener as they look to consolidate their place in the play-off zone.
Although Wagener is a different type of player, the 6’8″ forward comes out of Frederick Maryland College in the State, and coach Thomas Baker is excited about his new signing: “Daniel will be a great addition to our team” he said. “His size and strengths will provide us with cover behind Lee but his mobility also gives us a chance to play him and Lee together which will allow us to go bigger tactically against some teams.
“It is something I have been looking for all season and it is great that we have managed to sort this out before the deadline, I feel he will have a real positive impact for us.”
Wagener is expected to make his debut in Saturday’s trip to Derby Trailblazers before Leopards return to the Brentwood Centre the following day to face basement side Magic.
Darrell’s back for Leopards – February 8, 2019
As Leopards prepare for another double-header weekend, they have strengthened their roster with the addition of guard/forward Darrell Bethune. The Londoner joins the Big Cats just under two years after seeing his first spell with the club ended by a serious knee injury.
In a week where Groundhog Day was celebrated it was a case of de ja vu as Leopards had to appeal to Basketball England after his previous club, Leicester Warriors, refused to release him. Darrell’s first spell with the Leopards saw him become the first Division One player to be named in the BBL Team of the Week following the Big Cats’ shock BBL Trophy win against Manchester Giants in January 2017.
He was a key member of the Leopards’ side, and losing him when he suffered the season-ending injury in a defeat at Solent Kestrels proved key as they slipped out of Division One.
Head coach Thomas Baker is delighted with his new signing: “Darrell is going to be a great addition to the team” he said. “His experience is going to be vital as we continue to make a play-off push and his ability to help us on both ends of the floor which make us stronger in games also.
“He has already shown in in the short time with us how he can help us both on and off the floor, and I think it is good for the organisation to bring someone like Darrell back. I am excited to see how this works out for us.”
Leopards shoot down Rockets – February 12, 2019
Leopards completed a season sweep over old rivals Reading Rockets as they moved up to sixth place in Division One with a comfortable 93-78 win at Essex Sports Arena, on Sunday.
The Big Cats blew the game open in a strong second period, outscoring the visitors 25-14 to take control, and they never looked back as they wrapped up their tenth league win of the campaign.
Asante Sandiford missed out on a rare triple-double by a single assist, with 13 rebounds and 29 points – 22 of which came in the first half.
Sam Newman dished out another eight assists to go with his 16 points, while Lee Hodges and Findlay Wood each had eight rebounds to go with 15 and ten points respectively.
The visitors suffered foul trouble all afternoon, finishing with only four players on the court for the final 35 seconds after seeing five players foul trouble. British guard Sydney Donaldson led the Rockets with 19 points while American AJ Carr added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Scores from Sandiford and Hodges saw Leopards take an early lead, but the first quarter proved to be tight, and despite a pair of Chuck Duru three-pointers the visitors went into the first break with a 27-25 lead.
That proved to be as good as it got for the visiting side as Wood opened the second period with back-to-back treys, and the Big Cats held the lead for the rest of the game. Sandiford scored nine of the hosts’ points in the quarter while Hodges started and ended the 5-0 run which took the Big Cats into the locker room with a 48-39 lead libreoffice draw for free.
That run was extended to 9-0 as Wood and Duru added to the lead at the start of the second half and, although Rockets cut the lead to nine, Newman hit five points in a quick-fire 13-0 run to make it a 22-point game.
Adrian Nosa Castillo hit six straight points to close the period and cut Leopards’ lead to 73-60 at the final break. Hodges broke the 8-0 Reading run before the visitors cut the lead to 75-64 with seven minutes remaining but six unanswered points ended the game as a contest, and Leopards spent most of the remaining time at the foul line as they wrapped up the victory.
Ryan praises Big Cats – February 13, 2019
ESSEX Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan had praise for his club’s coaches and players after a pair of victories lifted them up to sixth place in NBL Division One. The Big Cats won 87-63 at Manchester Magic on Saturday evening before recording a fourth victory of the season against Reading Rockets with a 93-78 victory at Essex Sports Arena the following afternoon.
“In the middle of November, with the team sitting bottom of the league after losing our first five games I did wonder if we’d done the right thing by accepting a late promotion to Division One” he admitted.
“But the way Tom [Baker], Roger and the team have turned things has been fantastic to watch.
“Even with additional signings, they’ve still coped with adversity and the loss of a couple of players, but ten wins in the last 13 games is title chasing form for half a season and instead of worrying about relegation, we’re now looking at a place in the play-offs.
“This weekend showed the progress we’ve made because, after a long trip to Manchester on Saturday, we could easily have been sluggish with an early tip-off against Reading, but we gave another great 40-minute performance and thoroughly deserved the win.”
Weekly award for Asante – February 13, 2019
Asante Sandiford has been awarded the NBL Division One player-of-the-week award following his performance against Reading Rockets. The American forward missed out on a rare triple-double by a single assist, with 13 rebounds and 29 points – 22 of which came in the first half – as the Big Cats completed a season sweep against their old rivals with a 93-78 victory.
It completed a good weekend for the big man as his 19 points, adding six rebounds and five assists helped Thomas Baker’s team to a 24-point victory at Manchester Magic, on Saturday.
Sandiford had praise for the rest of the Big Cats following Sunday’s win: “I appreciate my teammates finding me and allowing me to help us win this game. A lot of our guys were drained but we found a way to build off each other’s energy and battle with a hard fought Reading team.”
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was delighted that Sandiford had become the second Big Cat (Luke Mascall-Wright being the other) to win the award this season: “This recognition for Asante is excellent” he said.
“He has been influential in our success this season and it is indicative to the run we have been.
“He consistently turns up ready to play and he is always looking for ways he and the team can be better. He is a credit to himself and a pleasure to coach.”
Leopards win thriller at Storm – February 19, 2019
Leopards fought back from 13 points down at the final break to win a thriller 101-99 at Hemel Storm, on Saturday. The victory was the Big Cat’s 11th league win in the last 14 games and saw them gain revenge for a heart-breaking one-point National Trophy loss at the same venue in January.
Thomas Baker’s team trailed by two heading into the final 12 seconds but Findlay Wood hit a big three pointer to put Leopards up by one. Some great defence from the visitors saw Hemel turn the ball over and they sent Asante Sandiford to the foul line where he hit both free-throws to make it a three point game.
After Sandiford was adjudged to have fouled Treyvonn Wright, Hemel had the ball under Leopards’ basket. Darrell Bethune was then called for a foul before the inbound, resulting in his ejection, and Blaine Feckleton hit the first free-throw before missing the second to leave his team down by two, with the ball and 2.3 seconds on the clock.
The hosts got the ball to Leome Francis but some great defence meant his shot was short, and Leopards held on for victory.
The Big Cats had started well, putting up 24 points in the first five minutes, but the home side led by as many as 13 in the second half before the visitors staged their comeback.
Sandiford led the visitors with 27 points and five rebounds, while captain Sam Newman had an impressive 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Lee Hodges finished with a 20 point, 14 rebound double-double and Wood had six boards to go with his 12 points. Recent signing Wright led Storm with a 30 point, 12 rebound double-double in a 40 minute performance, with Tom Adorian adding 15 points and seven boards in just over 16 minutes.
The Big Cats certainly started well as Newman hit a pair of treys and Hodges got open in the paint on several occasions. Sandiford and Wood both go in on the act from downtown and Newman hit his third trey as Leopards led 23-13 after just five minutes.
The scoring inevitably slowed after that manic start but Daniel Wagener’s lay-up with a second on the clock sent the Big Cats into the first break with a 33-25 lead.
The second period proved to be a slog for the visitors, Hodges getting them off the mark after 95 seconds but although they were ahead by ten following a Sandiford free-throw with four minutes gone, a trey from former Leopard Will Ashby sparked a run from the hosts and they took a one point lead off a Wright dunk with 92 second on the clock.
Hodges restored the Leopards’ lead by Freckleton wrapped up a high-scoring first half to give his side a 49-48 advantage as they headed into the locker room.
It took three second half minutes for Newman to get Leopards off the mark but despite another two triples from the visitors’ captain, Storm finished the period strongly and Levi Noel sent them into the final break 74-61 ahead.
Back-to-back Sandiford baskets from the Land of Plenty saw that lead quickly trimmed to seven early in the fourth period and Wood kept his side in touch with a basket from outside the arc.
But it was a quick-fire 11-0 run sparked by Sandiford and finished with back-to-back baskets from Hodges that saw Leopards regain the lead with four minutes remaining. Wood hit another treble as the teams exchanged baskets down the stretch before the game reached its climax in the final minute and Leopards held on for revenge.
Sam picks up weekly award – February 20, 2019
Sam Newman has become the second successive Leopard to win the NBL Division One player-of-the-week award. The British guard had an impressive 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Big Cats won a thriller 101-99 at Hemel Storm, on Saturday.
Newman’s display drew praise from his coach, Thomas Baker: “It is great that Sam is getting the recognition he deserves” he said. “He has been playing a high level for quite some time now for us and he is certainly leading by example in the direction that we are going this season. He is always ready to play and always puts in a great performance for us, he has been integral to our rise up the table. ”
Newman was delighted with the win at Hemel, which keeps the Big Cats in the top six: “It was another successful game for us” he said.
“Hemel gave us all sorts of problems throughout the game and showed they’re far greater than their record shows. However, yet again we managed to grind out another tough victory. Throughout the highs and lows of the game we stayed composed and together to get the job done. It’s that kind of composure we need to keep succeeding in this league.”
The award for Newman comes a week after Asante Sandiford was given the accolade, and both Newman and team-mate Lee Hodges have been nominated as Brit of the week on the Dave Own Basketball site
Official statement – March 3, 2019
Essex Leopards have announced that their agreement with the University of Essex will finish at the end of the current season. The Big Cats have played the majority of their home games at the Essex Sports Arena this season but disappointing crowds have meant that they will make other arrangements for the 2019/20 campaign epson stylus dx7400 driver download for free.
“We’ve enjoyed working with the University of Essex and the Essex Sports Arena is a fantastic venue to play at. Unfortunately crowds have been extremely disappointing and to safeguard the future of the club we have had to make a difficult decision” said general manager Dave Ryan.
“Our core fan-base remains at the Brentwood Centre and we hope to play as many games as possible at our traditional home with the aid of the Brentwood Leisure Trust next season”.
“We wish the University of Essex good luck for the future, especially to their women’s team who are challenging to become national champions.”
Leopards split weekend – March 4, 2019
It was a mixed weekend for Leopards as they won 93-91 at Leicester Warriors to move within touching distance of a play-off spot before going down 96-84 against Hemel Storm at the Brentwood Centre, on Sunday.
Leopards led for most of the game at Leicester, but had to withstand a late fight-back from the hosts to record a victory that realistically means they need one win from their final four games to seal a place in the post-season. The Big Cats started slowly but led 26-18 at the first beak before sharing 50 points in the second quarter.
A 25-24 third period saw that lead grow to nine at the last break but it took a Lee Hodges free-throw with four seconds on the clock to wrap up the win. Asante Sandiford led the Big Cats with 28 points and five rebounds, while Hodges added a 19 point, ten rebound double-double. Chuck Duru came off the bench to add 18 points while captain Sam Newman finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The following day saw the biggest crowd of the season at the Brentwood Centre saw a third period collapse help Storm to victory. Newman had put the Big Cats 46-38 ahead heading into the final 20 seconds of the first half, but Blaine Freckleton gave Hemel hope with a trey and they carried that into the third quarter as they outscored the home side 34-12 to wrap up the win.
he teams had split 46 first period points, but despite Baker’s team winning the second quarter 23-18 and the fourth 26-21, it was Hemel who took the win.
Sandiford finished with a massive 30 point, ten rebound double-double, with Hodges also adding ten boards to his 16 points. Newman added 15 points and five assists, while Findlay Wood also finished in double figures with ten points.
Baker looks for strong finish – March 18, 2019
As Leopards prepare to host Thames Valley Cavaliers at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday (4pm), coach Thomas Baker is looking for his side to finish the league season strongly.
“Recent results haven’t gone our way but we are still in the hunt for a play-off position and it is important we keep fighting to ensure we finish this season strongly” he said. “Playing the last two games of the year at the Brentwood Centre is massive for us. To give our home fans something to cheer about and for them to get behind the team is important for us to build momentum as we look for a solid finish to the season.
“I am looking forward to seeing our fans and the guys are excited to step out on our home court again.”
Having been promoted last season, Cavaliers have made an excellent start to life in the top flight, and will go into the weekend in fourth spot with a 14-8 record and home court advantage in the play-offs virtually guaranteed.
Robert Banks’ side have been a thorn in Leopards’ side over the last couple of seasons, winning all five games between the clubs.
Baker reflects after Solent loss – April 1, 2019
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was in reflected mood after his side went down against newly crowned NBL champions Solent Kestrels:
“Firstly let me say congratulations to Solent Kestrels” he said. “They have been the best team in the league throughout the season in my opinion and the title is very much deserved. We competed hard and was able to put in a few adjustments for around two and a half quarters, unfortunately we were unable to slow down Travis Charles and Solent executed well to get him good looks all game.
“Looking forward we are excited to be in playoffs and it has been season filled with highs and lows. We will doing everything we can to ensure that our season continues for as long as we can.”
Worthing trip for Leopards – April 5, 2019
Leopards will look to progress in the play-offs when they travel to Worthing Thunder on Saturday.
The Big Cats will visit a Worthing side who won the National Trophy and only missed out on the league title on the head-to-head decider against Solent. While Leopards went down 104-86 when the sides met on the south coast before the arrival of Sandiford, they pushed Thunder all the way at the University of Essex before losing a thriller 94-90.
Thunder rely heavily of the scoring of former BBL Americans Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumni, with the former having recently recorded a rare triple-double. The winner of the tie will host either Thames Valley Cavaliers or Derby Trailblazers in the semi-final.
Captain Sam Newman is looking for the Big Cats to bounce back following last week’s loss against Thames Valley Cavaliers: “It was always going to be a tough task against a team fighting for the title. A strong second half from them was too much for us in the end, but our ability to continue to fight until the end is what we need to carry over into the play-offs this week.”
Thunder end play-off hopes – April 8, 2019
Leopards’ season ended in disappointment as they exited the Division One play-offs with a 107-85 loss at Worthing Thunder. With a depleted side missing American forward Asante Sandiford and Andre Lavinier, and with coach Thomas Baker forced to kit up so they had the minimum eight players, the Big Cats found the high-scoring Thunder side too hot to handle.
In the absence of Asante Sandiford, Rory Winter stepped up to finish with a season-high 27 points and three rebounds. Sam Newman went agonisingly close to a triple double, draining five treys on the way to 19 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Lee Hodges had nine rebounds to go with his 17 points, Findlay Wood finished with 13 points and six assists, while Chuck Duru completed the scoring with nine points.
But the Big Cats had no answer to veteran American duo Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumni. Taylor finished with 34 points, ten rebounds and seven assists, while Owumni had 23 points and seven boards.
Hodges opened the visitors’ scoring before a Wood trey gave Leopards the lead with his first three-pointer, and Hodges dunked to for their final lead of the game.
But the hosts replied with an 11-2 run capped by a fast-break by former Leopard Ish Fontaine and the British guard sent his side into the first break with a 33-19 lead.
Triples from Wood and Newman saw the Big Cats cut the deficit to eight midway through the second period, but that was as close as they came as Thunder went into the locker room with a 58-45 lead.
Winter and Newman kept Leopards in touch during the first three minutes of the second half, but Thunder took control after that and Taylor closed out a 23-10 run to send his side into the final break with a commanding 87-62 lead.
Hodges, who was double-teamed all night in the absence of Sandiford, carved open the home defence three time in the early minutes of the fourth period, and Duru hit a triple to cut the lead to 19. But despite eight points from Winter and a couple of decent jump shots from Wood, that was as good as it got as Leopards’ season came to a close.
Baker proud of Leopards – April 12, 2019
After guiding Leopards to a top half finish in their first season back in Division One, Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker has reflected on his side’s campaign: “I am sad to see this season end but I am proud of what we have accomplished” he said. “No one gave us a chance to stay up at the beginning of the year so to have made a National Cup semi-Final and to finish seventh in the league as well as making the play-offs has given us a strong platform to grow from.
“As I have said previously this season has been a rollercoaster, I think I worked out we would have nearly played 40 games together which is by far the most I have ever coached in a single season but I have enjoyed every moment. We have had some great performances along our journey ultimately proving that on our day we are right up there with the best teams in this division
“The highs and the lows are natural within a season and it has presented me with a lot to think about over the summer as we look to put together a team that can build on from this swr mediathek video herunterladen. I just want to finish by saying thank you to all the players, volunteers and club members who have helped us both on and off the court this year, we couldn’t have done it without you. To Dave Ryan, the GM, and his fellow director Mark Wright, thank you for continuing to support my vision for this club, it is great to be a part of this organisation.
“To my assistant coach Roger Malpass, thank you once again for being there when I needed you, it’s been a pleasure coaching alongside you. It is now time to take some rest with the family before planning for next season and building on this season’s success.“
Findlay pleased with Big Cats’ season – April 14, 2019
After seeing his side reach the play-offs and National Cup semi-final, Leopards’ guard Findlay Wood believes that Leopards’ 2018/19 season was a success
“Considering everything that happened during the year, I would say that our season was a success” he said. When we had our full team in the mid part of the season we were putting in great performances and getting some great results.
“We played at a fast pace that was fun to play and watch. We didn’t end the season how we would have liked but overall a good season, thank you to everyone involved.”
Sam and Findlay win awards – April 22, 2019
Sam Newman and Findlay Wood collected the two Leopards’ MVP awards when the club held its end-of-season presentations recently. Newman edged out big man Lee Hodges to win the official club award, which is voted for by the Big Cats’ fans.
Newman was delighted with the award: “I’m honoured to have been given the club MVP for the season, thank you to everyone involved with this programme. Despite the rollercoaster we have been on it has been a great year and it’s sad we have to wait so long to play again.”
Wood was also pleased to pick up the coaches’ player-of-the-year trophy which was picked by coach Thomas Baker and his assistant Roger Malpass: “I am very honoured to receive this award. I would like to thank the Leopards and coach Tom Baker for giving me the opportunity to play at this level and the supporters and volunteers that help the club be successful.
“I always try to play the game the right way and have fun doing it. We have a good group of players that are hard working and a joy to play with.”