Essex Classic day one round-up

London Lions go into day two of the Essex Classic top of the table after a pair of comfortable wins at the Brentwood Centre, on Saturday.
Vince Macauley’s side steamrollered their way through Team USA Select and hosts Essex Leopards, and barring a mathematical miracle will compete in Sunday’s final.
Tickets for today’s four games are available on the door
The Lions announced the return of Jonathan James on the morning of the tournament, and he made an instant impact in the tournament’s opening game with 13 points in a 69-29 blowout against Team USA.
London held the American scoreless from the field in the first seven minute period, and never looked back after leading 19-1 at the first break.
Captain for the day Andre Lockhart and Brandon Peel each finished with 12 points for Lions as they opened the Classic in style.
Game two proved to be a bit more competitive as Leopards started well against Libertyville Vipers before fading to lose 69-39.
Lee Hodges (formerly Leigh Greenhan) led the Big Cats with 13 points with Dion Easton adding six on his Leopards debut. Devonte Coe and Jabari Alex finished with 13 apiece for the Vipers.
The third game proved to be comfortably the best of the day as the two American sides went head-to-head. Team USA Select as a big three from Taylor Thomas down the stretch set them up for a 62-60.
It was nip and tuck throughout the game, with Vipers seeing their 14-12 first period lead halved to 30-29 lead at half-time.
Vipers led 47-44 at the final break, but it went down to the wire. Thomas’ trey was answered by an and-one from Alex, only for Thomas to hit a jumper to put his side ahead before Johnson wrapped things up at the line.
The day’s final game saw the young Leopards, missing three probably starters, over run by Lions at time as the BBL side ran out 72-39 winners.
Peel was in imperious form with 18 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes of action as Lions again started well with a 27-6 first period lead.
Chuck Duru hit half of the Big Cats points in the first quarter with a triple, but Sam Newman and Tom Child also scored from the Land of Plenty as Leopards opened the second period with an 11-6 run.
A four-point play from Wes Moore – Leopards’ only returning player from last season – helped the hosts keep the scoreboard ticking over, but a pair of Jordan Spencer free-throws sent Lions into the half-time break with a 39-21 lead.
The third period proved to be evenly matched, with Hodges hitting six straight points for Leopards before Andre Lavinier cut the deficit to 52-33 at the final break.
That proved to be only a brief respite for the Big Cats as Lions stepped up a gear in the fourth period, scoring 20 straight points in the first five and a half minutes before scores from Dion Easton, Duru and Newman sparked a 6-0 run to wrap up the scoring for the day.
Hodges finished with 11 points for Leopards with Newman adding seven and Rory Winter six, while Robinson finished with 20 and Spencer added 13 for Lions.