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It’s crunch time for Leopards on Saturday as they host Westminster Warriors at Oaklands College.
The Big Cats are joint bottom of the table with a 1-15 record, Warriors are 12th with three wins from 16 games and have lost nine on the bounce.
Coach Thomas Baker knows the importance of the game to his side’s survival hopes: “”We look ahead to this weekend in a crucial match up against a familiar foe” he said.
“Westminster presents a similar test to Bradford in that they will be physical and aggressive for 40 minutes so we must be ready to match them.
“We have been so close in games across this season and we still believe our destiny is in our own hands, we have the tools to get it done, we must focus on us and stay together through this tough period.”
A poor end to the game saw Leopards lose 92-84 when the sides met at Moberly Leisure Centre in October, and the Big Cats will look to overturn that margin if they are to seal the head-to-head decider between the teams,
A good first period from Baker’s team wasn’t enough to prevent an 87-66 loss against Bradford Dragons at Oaklands, on Saturday.
Dragons scored the first five through points through Dave Walsh and Ricky Fetske, but a Teni Mongo triple got Leopards off the mark, and a long range effort from Toby Gastaldi-Davies kept them within a point 15-14 with seven minutes gone.
Prince Lartey gave the Big Cats their first lead of the game heading into the final minute of the period and although former Leopard Albert Margai put his side back ahead, Lartey beat the buzzer with a triple to send the sides into the first break tied at 21.
Andreas Lycoudis and Gastaldi-Davies exchanged three-pointers to open the second period before Rihards Sulcs launched the run which effectively gave them the victory. Margai, Walsh and Lycoudis all treys as the visitors poured in 17 straight points and held Leopards scoreless for almost four minutes.
Mongo – in probably his best game as a Leopard – broke the run with a triple before adding a lay-up, but although Lartey made it an eight point the visitors scored the final six points of the half to lead 51-36 going into the locker room.
The hosts failed to score in the first three minutes of the third period, but although Mongo added another score from downtown, the home side were outscored 18-9 in the quarter to trail 69-45 at the final break.
Jerrelle Okoro spent much of the first six fourth period minutes at the foul line, going seven-from-seven including an and-one , and Mongo added another pair of treys, but they never got any closer than 17 points as Bradford closed out the win.
Mongo led Leopards with 21 points, shooting seven-from-11, and adding seven rebounds, while Okoro finished with 13 points, eight boards and three assists. Lartey added 11 points and four assists while Oaklands youngster Gastaldi-Davies had five rebounds to go with his seven points.
Sulcs led Bradford with an 18 point, 13 rebound double-double, with Walsh also finishing on 18 points. Fetske also had a double-double with 17 points and a massive 21 rebounds as Bradford won the battle of the board 59-46 while Margai finished with 15 points and three assists.