Winning start for Leopards

A blistering run in the fourth period saw Levett Essex Leopards open their NBL Division Two season with an 83-77 victory at Westminster Warriors, on Saturday.
An 11-0 tear from the home side had seen them take a 66-65 lead early in the fourth period but a trey from Jamie Rodwell launched the run which wrapped up the victory for Thomas Baker’s team.
Korry Callum and Dougie Bennett led the visitors with 19 points apiece, with new signing John Shodipo marking his debut with 15.
Callum drained a trey to open the scoring and quickly took his tally to five, but Warriors led for most of the first period and despite ten points from Callum, Warriors player-coach Jon Johnson sent his side into the first break with a 23-22 lead.
Bennett hit five straight points to open the second period but there was little to chose between the two sides as they were tied at 41 with 4:27 on the clock before scores from Will Ashby and Bennett gave Leopards a 46-42 half-time lead.
Bennett and Callum kept their side ahead in the second period and the Big Cats were still ahead by four at 54-50 with 3:35 on the clock before a trey from Jamie Rodwell – who finished with nine points – sent the visitors into the final break with a 60-55 lead.
Triples from Bennett and Shodipo helped Leopards into a double digit lead early in the fourth period but any thoughts that the win was secure were quickly dispelled as former Leopard Lawrence Brown used his height to cause havoc in the paint with four straight baskets before Manning wrapped up the 11-0 with a trey to put Warriors 66-65 ahead with seven minutes remaining.
Shodipo broke the run with a trey, and as Leopards tightened their defence and Bennett stole the ball from Johnson and scored on the break. Brown picked up his fourth foul and was taken out of the game, and with Hayes hitting the resulting pair of free-throws and Sodipo dunking on the break, Leopards pulled away before scores from Sodipo and Will Ashby wrapped up the win.
Johnson led all scorers with 22, while Brown added 17 against his former club.