Winter pleased with progress

AS ESSEX Leopards prepare for their University of Essex debut, guard Rory Winter was pleased with a weekend that saw the Big Cats split their two games.
Thomas Baker’s side lost 114-105 at Thames Valley Cavaliers in the National Trophy group stage on Saturday before bouncing back to progress in the National Cup with a 111-99 win at Team Derby Spartans the following day.
“On Saturday it was a promising performance with guys stepping up with the absence of a few of our senior guys, we had them but just needed to be more relentless at times but we learn from it” said Winter.
“Sunday was tough coming off the taxing game the day before, we under-performed but managed to stay locked in and pull a win out when it mattered in the fourth.”
Leopards will now host Barking Abbey Crusaders at their impressive new home in Colchester, with the action staring at 6pm and being proceeded by Essex Rebels versus Durham in the Women’s British Basketball League at 3.30pm. Tickets are available on the day or through www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.
With Leopards’ American imports still awaiting visas, forward Dion Easton junior in the process of getting his British passport and Chuck Duru unable play due to a registration error by general manager Dave Ryan, it was a tough start for the Big Cats at big-spending Cavaliers.
However they matched the home team until the final five minutes when Thames Valley broke a 97-97 tie with an 11-0 run to seal the Trophy points.
Luke Mascall-Wright led the visitors with 33 points, with big man Lee Hodges adding 24 and Sam Newman 19.
The following day saw Leopards taken all the way by a Derby side expected to win Division Three North before they came good with a 22-4 run in the final four minutes to seal a trip to Westminster Warriors in the last 32 of the competition they have won three times.
Mascall-Wright completed a stunning weekend with 30 points, with Newman adding 26 and Hodges 21.