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Crawford's the star in Leopards win
5:06pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in Sport
ESSEX Leopards finally picked up their first National Trophy win of the season on Sunday as they comfortably saw off Medway Park Crusaders 90-71 on the road.
Howard Crawford led the way for the fourth straight game with 26 points and 10 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action.
And there was also an important contribibution from Ish Fontaine, as he scored six three-pointers on the way to a 22-point, seven-board performance. That helped Leopards triumph over a Crusaders side who started with former Big Cats Taner Adu and Lukas Volskis, pictured below and left.
But it was current Leopards captain Carl Josey who opened the scoring before Siman Stewart’s three-point play gave them an early 7-4 lead.
However, it was Fontaine who put Leopards in charge as he scored three straight triples and a long two to put the visitors 25-17 ahead at the first break.
Needing a win to improve their chances of a quarter-final spot, Crusaders opened the second period strongly with a 16-2 scoring streak to open up a 33-27 lead with 4mins 24secs remaining in the first half.
An and-one from Leopards’ Lawrence Brown — who played only five minutes after rolling his ankle early in the game — broke the run and the Big Cats then reeled off 11 straight points, including six from Courtney Van Beest, to take a lead they would never lose.
Fontaine beat the buzzer to send the Big Cats into the locker room with a 44-37 lead but Adu, pictured right, who also played for the Essex Pirates, hit a pair of free-throws to open the second half. But, with Crawford replying at the other end, the Big Cats’ lead was still seven points at the five minute mark in the third period. It was again Fontaine who sparked a 9-2 run to put Leopards fully in control, and Kris Clark made it a 20-point game before the visitors went into the final break 73-56 up.
Crawford opened the fourth period scoring, and coach Robert Youngblood was able to utilise his bench for the final minutes.
But the win was not enough to see Big Cats reach the next stage of the Trophy and they will now turn their attentions towards the National Cup as they take on Hemel Storm in the last 16 of the competition at the Brentwood Centre this Sunday.
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