Basketball: Leopards book home play-off

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 April 2018

Will Ashby in action for Levett Essex Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)

Will Ashby in action for Levett Essex Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)

Paul Phillips

Levett Essex Leopards will host Westminster Warriors in the play-offs after thrashing Derbyshire Arrows 114-72 in their last league match at the weekend.

The play-off quarter-final will take place at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday (April 7), at 6.30pm as the Big Cats look to finish the season with a piece of silverware.

Leopards won both regular season meetings with the west London side, edging the opening league game of the season 83-77 and winning a thriller at Brentwood 75-73 in January.

Both sides finished with 14-8 records, but Leopards took fourth place – and home-court advantage – thanks to the wins over the Warriors.

Jon Johnson’s side have already won silverware this season, beating big-spending Thames Valley Cavaliers in the Patrons Cup final. And with ex-Cats Tosin Oyelese, Justin Hitchman and Lawrence Brown in their squad, it’s likely to be another thriller at Brentwood.

Coach Thomas Baker said: “It’s symbolic in a way. We started the season against Westminster. We started the New Year against them and now we will start our play-off push against them too.

“It’s going to be a tough game. They’ve shown they can be the best this league has to offer having beaten Cavaliers twice and beating Hoods on the weekend. It’s a great game for us, we will need to be ready for a competitive game right from the start.

“The guys look focused and I am excited for us to keep this season going and aim for the play-off final at the end of the month, but we must take it one game at time.”

The 114-point haul was a record for the Leopards in a league game, beating last season’s double overtime win at Worthing by a single point.

Seven players finished in double figures – another club record – with Shaq Lewis leading the way with 18 points and seven boards.

Will Ashby and Jordon George finished with 13 points apiece and added 10 assists and 10 rebounds respectively.

Jose Morais also finished with 13 points, while Antoinio Deogratias had 12 points and eight boards, Kevin Moyo scored 11 points off the bench and Jamie Hayes pulled down eight boards to go with his 10 points.

Baker added: “It was a great game from us to finish. I’m proud in the way the guys have consistently shown the resilience needed to bounce back and push forward.”

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