Leopards provide the magic in Manchester

A strong second half saw Leopards record a quick-fire double against Manchester Magic as they left the north west with an 87-63 victory, on Saturday evening.
The win was a lot more comfortable than the previous week’s success against Magic at the Brentwood Centre, but Leopards’ victory sees the home side facing a first relegation in club history.
A 13-2 run in the final five minutes ended any chance of a comeback from the young Magic side, and it was captain Sam Newman who led the way with 19 points, and impressive 13 assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Asante Sandiford also finished with 19 points, adding six rebounds and five assists, while Lee Hodges finished with a 14 point, 12 rebound double-double.
Darrell Bethune marked his first game in a Leopards’ kit with 12 points and a couple of steals in 20 minutes off the bench.
Jonathon Barnes (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Richard Bell (11 points, ten boards) both had double-doubles for the home side.
Hodges opened the scoring for the Big Cats as the home side took an early 5-2 lead but there was little to choose between the two sides, and it took dunks from Sandiford and Newman to send the visitors into the first break with a 16-13 lead.
Tom Child drained from the Land of Plenty to open the second period and with Bethune hitting a pair at the line the visitors took a 21-13 lead.
A three point play from Hodges kept the visitors ahead before Chuck Duru drained a three, and with Sandiford putting his side up by six with a driving lay-up, the visitors played some tough defence in the final seconds to go into the locker room 34-28 ahead.
Sandiford and Newman both scored from downtown as Leopards opened the second half strongly and Findlay Wood also hit a triple to put the visitors up by ten heading into the final three minutes of the third period.
Newman put his side up by 12 going into last minute of the quarter before Sandiford’s hook shot made it 63-51 at the final break.
Child hit another three to keep the lead in double digits early in the fourth period but it was a Hodges dunk that sparked the run that took the game beyond Magic, with Newman and Sandiford both scoring key baskets and Rory Winter hitting a trey to wrap up their side’s ninth league win of the campaign.