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Robert Youngblood delighted Essex Leopards' double triumph
ESSEX Leopards roared back to winning ways with two National Trophy triumphs in the space of three days.
The Big Cats saw off Brixton Topcats 77-63 on Friday night and then followed that up by beating Medway Park Crusaders 80-63.
The back-to-back wins delighted Leopards’ new coach Robert Youngblood.
“I told the team this was a big weekend for us and to get two wins was great,” said Youngblood.
“We’re starting to put things together but it’s a new team with only two or three players here from last season so, of course, we still need to gel together a bit more.
“That will come the more we play but that’s encouraging because it means we will get better.
“But I will always demand that my team play hard and give 100 per cent because that’s what I do when I play.
“However, I have to say coaching is definitely more stressful than playing.”
Youngblood’s spell in charge of the Leopards started with a controversial 83-81 defeat at Tees Valley Mohawks.
But his side never looked in danger in either of their matches over the weekend.
On Friday, they led 16-15 against the Topcats at the end of the first quarter before extending that advantage to 26-10 at half-time.
Topcats hit back during the third quarter to cut Leopards’ lead to 55-52 but the home-side went further away in the final 10 minutes to win 77-63.
Simon Cummings top scored with 21 points for Leopards while Rowell Graham hit 19.
On Sunday, Leopards found themselves behind at the end of the first quarter with Crusaders 26-23 in front.
However, they fought back to be 42-35 in front at half-time and 60-44 ahead at the end of the third quarter.
That led to a comfortable final quarter for Leopards as they ran out winners by 17 points.
Lawrence Brown top scored with 21 points while Cummings added 14 to push Leopards up to third in their group.
>Leopards are back in action at the Basildon Sporting Village on Sunday when they take on the Eastside Eagles in the National Cup with the match tip-off taking place at 4pm.