BASKETBALL: A stunning comeback saw Leopards continue their march up the EBL Division One table with a 76-72 victory against Leeds Carnegie, on Sunday.
In front of a big crowd, the Big Cats trailed by five points with three and half minutes remaining but scored 11 of the final 14 points to move up to sixth spot and have lost only one league game in the last three months.
Vernon Teel was once again the Leopards’ hero, scoring the final six points and coming up with a big steal down the stretch on the way to 36 points, eight steals, seven rebounds and five assists.
Ousman Krubally finished wit another double-double, adding 15 rebounds to his 20 points, while Zak Wells also have a good night on the boards with ten rebounds and six points.
It was an injury-hit Leopards team missing John Lister, Joe Lockwood and Lukas Volskis that took to the court and coach Dejan Mihevc drafted in Marlan Henry for his first game since mid-October, and he finished with four points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minute of action.
Leopards won the first period 22-15, but were outscored 24-21 and 21-16 in the second and third periods respectively to trail 60-59 at the final break.
They led briefly in the fourth period but when Armand Anebo – who led the visitors with 14 points and 11 rebounds – put Carnegie 69-64 ahead with 3:35 on the clock, they looked in serious trouble.
But Krubally started the comeback with a pair of free-throws, and Teel came up with a steal and a basket before Dominic Norton also stole the ball and fed Krubally to put Leopards up by a point with 2:53 on the clock.
Teel made it a three point game, but that lead was trimmed by a Anebo free throw as David Buchberger fouled out, but Teel put the Big Cats 74-70 up going into the final 90 seconds.
Krubally joined Buchberger on the bench with five fouls and David Ajumobi halved that lead at the foul line with 38 seconds on the clock.
Teel missed a shot with 12 seconds remaining, but redeemed himself as he stole the ball off John Houghton and buried a jump shot to seal the victory.
The Big Cats return to Basildon on Sunday when Bradford Dragons are the visitors, tip-off 4pm. A victory would see Leopards move up to fifth place in the table as they look to close in on home court advantage in the play-offs.
The Dragons have made a good start to their first season in the top flight of the EBL, and it will be the fourth meeting of the campaign between the teams.