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Essex Leopards face Worthing Thunder in play-off quarter finals

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 April 2019

Sam Newman in action against Solent Kestrels (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Sam Newman in action against Solent Kestrels (Pic: Paul Phillips)

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Essex Leopards will travel to Worthing Thunder in the Division One play-offs quarter-final following their seventh place finish in the regular season.

Lee Hodges in action against Solent Kestrels (Pic: Paul Phillips)Lee Hodges in action against Solent Kestrels (Pic: Paul Phillips)

The Big Cats’ place in the post season was confirmed when Leicester Warriors lost against Loughborough Riders on Saturday afternoon and the following day they were unable to prevent Solent Kestrels winning the league title with an 85-67 victory.

Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was in reflected mood after the game: “Firstly let me say congratulations to Solent Kestrels. They have been the best team in the league throughout the season in my opinion and the title is very much deserved.

“We competed hard and was able to put in a few adjustments for around two and a half quarters, unfortunately we were unable to slow down Travis Charles and Solent executed well to get him good looks all game.

“Looking forward we are excited to be in playoffs and it has been season filled with highs and lows. We will doing everything we can to ensure that our season continues for as long as we can.”

Asante Sandiford led the Big Cats with 18 points and seven rebounds, while captain Sam Newman also had seven boards to go with his 16 points and five assists. Chuck Duru and Findlay Wood each finished with nine points, while Lee Hodges pulled down 11 rebounds, adding six points.

Leopards never led in the game, trailing 24-17 at the first break and 43-35 at half-time. An 8-0 run capped by a pair of Hodges free-throws saw the home move within four points midway through the third period before the visitors pulled away to wrap up the league title.

The Big Cats will now a Worthing side who won the National Trophy and only missed out on the league title on the head-to-head decider against Solent.

While Leopards went down 104-86 when the sides met on the south coast before the arrival of Sandiford, they pushed Thunder all the way at the University of Essex before losing a thriller 94-90.

Thunder rely heavily of the scoring of former BBL Americans Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumni, with the former having recently recorded a rare triple double.

The winner of the tie will host either Thames Valley Cavaliers or Derby Trailblazers in the semi-final.


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