Basketball: Essex Leopards efforts rewarded against London Westside
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 March 2018
Levett Essex Leopards efforts to get a game played on Sunday were rewarded with an 83-65 victory against London Westside.
Scheduled opponents Derbyshire Arrows told the Big Cats on Friday afternoon that they wouldn’t be travelling due to the snow – which had gone by Sunday – but Leopards moved quickly to replace the game with a match-up against struggling Westside.
The game was technically Westside’s home game after February’s attempt to play it was postponed due to a leaking roof making the court dangerous.
A bumper crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw a dominant second half performance give the Big Cats an ultimately comfortable victory.
Will Ashby led the way for the visitors with four three-pointers in his 24 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Shaq Lewis celebrated a rare start with 12 points and 14 boards in just 16 minutes while captain Dougie Bennett also finished with 12 points.
After the previous week’s loss at Ipswich, coach Thomas Baker made several changes to his starting line-up, with young guard Jose Morais and recent signing Antonio Deogratas making their first starts for the Leopards.
Ashby opened the scoring with a trey, before seven straight Lewis points and a Jerrell Layne triple saw the Big Cats take a 14-3 lead.
They went into the first break 18-9 ahead but lost momentum in the second period as the London side got within four points before a Bennett trey helped them go into the break 35-27 ahead.
Ashby hit his side’s first nine points of the third period and they outscored Westside 30-16 to take a comfortable 65-43 lead into the final break.
That advantage peaked at 31 following four straight Jamie Rodwell points as the Big Cats wrapped up their 11th league win of the campaign.
They now face a big weekend with a pair of games against fellow top four sides Nottingham Hoods and Liverpool.
Saturday’s trip to champions-elect Hoods will see the Big Cats face a side who have only lost once in 18 league games.
The Liverpool game at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday tips off at 4pm, and will be a key one if the Big Cats want to seal a third placed finish.