Leopards stay up as season ends early

Following Friday’s announcement regarding the conclusion of the 2019/20 NBL season, it has been confirmed that Herts & Essex Leopards will finish the aborted campaign in 11th place.

Basketball England has awarded a point to each team for the games due to be played during the final fortnight of the season, so the Big Cats finish with 13 points from 26 games with their home fixtures against Barking Abbey and Leicester, along with the trip to Worthing, going unplayed.

As a result, Westminster Warriors have been relegated.

Leopards won just one of their first 16 league games, but the addition of England international Orlan Jackman saw them record a key 81-77 win against Westminster at Oaklands sparked a revival and the further additions of Elvisi Dusha, Aaron Williams and Osvaldas Gaizauskas helped them finish the season with three straight victories culminating in a 127-95 hammering of Nottingham Hoods in what proved to be their final game of the season.

“It’s a strange was to finish the season, but I don’t think Basketball England could have done it any differently – although allowed games to be played over the weekend of March 14/15 would have made their job easier,” said general manager Dave Ryan.

“Staying in Division One was our aim after the fire at Oaklands and a poor start to the season. The changes we made certainly paid off and I think everyone connected with the club can be proud of how we turned things around.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t have played the final three games as we were on a roll, and I think we could have ended up in tenth spot. But we certainly finished in style with the win against Nottingham, although I think our best result of the season was the victory at Reading the previous week.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]