BASKETBALL: Leopards set for crunch ties

BASKETBALL: Leopards set for crunch ties

BASKETBALL: Leopards set for crunch ties

First published in Sport

LEOPARDS will look to keep their outside title hopes alive with a pair of home games at the Brentwood Centre this weekend.

The Big Cats host Medway Park Crusaders on Saturday, at 7pm, before Team Northumbria are the visitors on Sunday, at 4pm.

Robert Youngblood’s team need to win their final four games to have any chance of winning the title, but they have already sealed home court advantage in the play-off quarter-finals after Sunday’s 77-70 home win against Leeds Carnegie.

The play-off tie will take place at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday April 13, at 4pm.

Saturday’s game will be the third meeting between Leopards and Crusaders this season, with the Big Cats winning 90-71 on the road in the Trophy and repeating the trick with an 82-53 victory in the league.

Northumbria will arrive at the Brentwood Centre in desperate need of a win to avoid relegation.

Against Leeds, a strong fourth period saw Leopards pick up their ninth win in ten games to seal a place in the top four.

Andre Lockhart led Leopards’ scoring for the first time since joining six weeks ago, adding seven assists to his 20 points.

Kris Clark finished with 16 points, with Carl Josey adding 15 points and six rebounds, while Howard suffered with foul trouble for most of game, but added seven boards to his 13 points.

Shaun Durant, opened the scoring before Clark sent Leopards into the first break with a 17-14 lead.

Crawford made it a five-point game with the opening basket of the second period, and although former Leopards Rowell Graham gave his side a brief lead, Josey drained a trey to send Leopards into the locker room leading 32-28.

Josey gave his side a six-point lead, but that quickly evaporated as Graham capped a 9-0 run to put Leeds 37-34 ahead and they led by as many as seven before a late rally saw Josey cut the deficit to 52-51 with another three-pointer.

Jack Stannard put his team ahead by four with a trey, but Crawford’s dunk energised his team, and back-to-back Clark baskets gave the home side a lead they wouldn’t lose.

Graham made it a one-point game with a minute remaining, but Courtney Van Beest answered at the other end before Clark and Crawford wrapped the win up.

l THE Leopards are holding an open day at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday from 1pm to 6pm.

People will be able to give basketball a try along with watching a cheerleading display.

For more details, visit www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk

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