Basketball: Leopards retain title in overtime

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The Independent Online
THE most dramatic climax ever to a Budweiser League season came down to the final seconds last night when Great London Leopards defeated the Sharks 106-102 in overtime at Sheffield Arena to retain their title.

By then Birmingham Bullets had done everything possible to deny Leopards the crown, winning 67-65 at London Towers to put one hand at least on the trophy until the Leopards game finished.

When Sheffield's John Amaechi scored 12 seconds from time to force overtime at 90-90, the Bullets players were huddled around a TV monitor at Wembley powerless to prevent a typically dogged response from Leopards in the extra period.

Leopard's coach, Billy Mims, said : "It seemed like we'd got to beat the whole world, but we just refused to lose." Mims lost two of his starters after Ryan Cuff idiotically fouled himself out on two technicals with 16 minutes to go and Makeeba Perry followed him to the bench in the fourth.

But Robert Youngblood, Eric Burks, who scored the Leopards' last eight points, and John White defied the odds piling up against them to snatch the trophy back from Birmingham.

A two-pointer from Stedroy Baker on the buzzer gave Derby Storm an 85- 84 win over Newcastle Eagles on Saturday to take the seventh place in the play-off quarter finals.

Leicester City Riders lost 103-106 at home to Chester Jets, allowing Manchester Giants to qualify in eight despite losing their last six games.

Leading scorers: Sheffield: Amaechi 25, Myers 20, Robinson 15, Cauthorn 15. Leopards Burks 31, Youngblood 27, White 18.