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Basketball: Leopards down Hoods in National Cup

PUBLISHED: 13:00 31 October 2018

Essex Leopards coach Thomas Baker talks to his players (pic Paul Phillips)

Essex Leopards coach Thomas Baker talks to his players (pic Paul Phillips)

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Leopards powered their way into the National Cup quarter-finals with an 88-73 win over Nottingham Hoods at Essex Arena on Sunday.

Lee Hodges attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)Lee Hodges attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)

The scoreline didn’t reflect the domination of the Big Cats who trailed for just 16 seconds and led by as many as 35 points in the third period.

Leopards will now host Manchester Magic in the last eight at Brentwood Centre on Sunday, November 18.

Luke Mascall-Wright came off the bench to lead Thomas Baker’s team with 18 points and seven rebounds as Andre Lavinier drained four of his seven three-point attempts to finish with 14 points.

Captain Sam Newman had 11 points, six assists and three rebounds before leaving with a knee injury and Lee Hodges finished with a massive 20 rebounds to go with his 11 points and four assists as Leopards drained 11 of their 26 three-point attempts.

Andre Lavinier attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)Andre Lavinier attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)

The visitors opened the scoring, answered by Tom Child, and treys from Newman and Findlay Wood gave the hosts a lead they would never lose.

Two treys apiece from Lavinier and Mascall-Wright gave Leopards a 26-13 first period lead and the barrage continued as Alejandro Batista and Lavinier hit from long range to send the Big Cats into a 48-28 lead.

Duro got in on the act in the third period , draining a pair of treys on his way to 10 points in the quarter, and Wes Flaherty’s lay-up saw the lead peak at 69-34.

Lavinier sunk his final trey of the game to help Leopards lead 77-51 at the final break, and although they took their foot off the gas in fourth quarter, they closed out the win.

Sam Newman attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)Sam Newman attacks for Leopards (pic Paul Phillips)

Leopards return to Essex Arena in Colchester on Saturday when they host Derby Trailblazers (6pm) as part of a double-header with Essex Rebels facing WBBL powerhouse Leicester Riders at 3.30pm.

Derby have made a perfect start to the league season with wins at Reading Rockets and Team Newcastle before ending Bradford Dragons’ great start to the campaign.

They finished their Trophy group with a 2-1 record, but due to Nottingham’s heavy loss against Riders Loughborough they can’t qualify for the final four. They made a shock National Cup exit after a 100-76 loss at Division Two side Liverpool.

Derby and the Big Cats have a quarter of a century of history going back to the original Leopards and Derby Storm with some classic games between the teams.

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