Leopards still fighting to avoid the drop

Essex & Herts Leopards continue their fight for Division One survival on Saturday when they host Bradford Dragons at Oaklands College, tip-off 5.45pm.

The Dragons will arrive at Oaklands in eighth spot with six wins from 13 games and Leopards will be looking to avenge an 86-77 loss in Yorkshire back at the beginning of October in a game they should have won.

Chris Mellor’s team defeated Division Two North leaders Newcastle University 97-88 in the National Cup before losing 87-77 at home against the all-conquering Solent Kestrels. Leopards will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s results between the teams as they won 91-79 at home but went down 100-85 on the road.

The game will see Leopards up against point guard Albert Margai who helped them win the Division One title in 2015.

Leopards failed to build on a good start at the weekend as they went down 79-53 against Loughborough Riders at Oaklands.

Four straight Prince Lartey points had given the Big Cats a 13-12 lead after six minutes but the visitors rattled off 12 straight points to take control and they never trailed again.

The home side trailed 23-14 at the first break and despite treys from James Cummings and Ray Akpofure they went into the locker room trailing 40-25 as Riders scored the final seven points of the half.

Another triple from Cummings followed by one from captain Chuck Duru made it a ten point game with six third period minutes gone, but for Leicester player Harrison Gamble answered from downtown to launch a 9-1 run from the visitors and they went into the final break with a 59-39 lead.

Jerelle Okoro opened the fourth period scoring, but Jonas Dieterich hit a trey and the lead never dipped below 20 again as Riders closed out the win.

Cummings led the Leopards’ scoring for the first time with 12 points, but Lartey was the only other Big Cat in double figures with 11 points and six rebounds. Duru and Okoro each added nine points with the latter adding six boards in a game where the home side were out-rebounded 64-41.

A balanced Riders offence was led by 16 points and five rebounds from Gamble, with Dieterich adding ten points and five board while Jordan Santiago also had ten points.


Mick Ferris

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