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Essex Classic – day two round-up

London Lions lifted the inaugural Essex Classic title with a 101-50 victory against Team USA Select, on Sunday.
Vince Macauley’s side led from tip-to-buzzer to complete a fourth win in the competition at the Brentwood Centre.
Lamar Roberts was the unlikely top scorer for the BBL side as the big man finished with 23 points in under 12 minutes as his team piled on the pressure down the stretch.
Lions never looked back as they opened with the game’s first nine points, with Ladarius Tubb (19), Brandon Peel (13) and Jonathon James (12) also finishing in double figures.
Peel was named tournament MVP, finishing with 55 points and 30 rebounds in the four short-format games.
Team USA, who had edged tight games against Libertyville Vipers and Leopards to reach the final, were led by 14 points from Kevin May and 13 from captain Josh Flowers.

Day 2 – The visitors

The third place play-off saw Vipers hold off a late run from Leopards to take bronze with a 75-67 victory.
The Big Cats had trailed 62-46 at the final break, but outscored the Americans 21-12 before running out of time.
Thomas Baker’s Leopards had led 19-17 at the first break, thanks partly to a pair of treys by Andre Lavinier, but Vipers took a 34-33 into the interval before a 28-13 third period put the visitors in charge.
A Lavinier and-one saw Leopards start the fourth period well, but although they chipped away at Vipers’ lead, their late run wasn’t quite enough.
Captain Sam Newman, along with debutant Luke Mascall-Wright led the hosts with 11 points apiece.
The day had started with Lions completing a perfect qualifying round record with a 77-62 victory against the Vipers.
Lions rushed into a 10-0 lead after three minutes, and were 25-5 ahead at the end of the first seven-minute period.
Vipers actually outscored the London team after that, going into the half-time break trailing 45-22 before winning the third period 19-14, and the teams shared 36 points in the final stanza.
Despite going 4/12 at the foul line, former GB international Flo Larkai led the Lions with 16 points and five rebounds. Peel finished with 14 points, also adding five boards while Labarius Tabb added 12 points and Justin Robinson added seven assists to his 11 points. Dee Woods led Vipers with 15 points while Jabari Alex added 14 points and five boards.
That result left Vipers needing Leopards to beat a much-changed Team USA Select team to qualify for the final, but it was their fellow Americans who reached the final by beating the Big Cats 68-59.
It was a strong finish from the visiting side that sealed a place in the championship game as they held Leopards to just six points in the final four minutes of the game.
Twenty-one points from Flowers and 15 from Corey Hicks proved key for Select, while Hodges led Leopards with 17 points and five boards, with Newman adding nine points and five assists.

Essex Leopards squad at the Essex Classic