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Brown boosts Big Cats in win over Team USA
12:27pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in Sport
BASKETBALL: Essex Leopards triumphed in their first pre-season friendly of the summer, beating Team USA Select 62-53 on Friday evening.
In front of a capacity crowd at the Brentwood Centre, a Big Cats team, missing three new signings, took control in the second period to run out comfortable winners.
Returning centre Lawrence Brown was in dominant form with 19 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes of action as the visitors never coped with the seven foot big man.
Guard Ish Fontaine staked a claim for a starting spot with 11 points, while triallists Benji Lawrence and Sam Iwueke each added eight points. Fellow new-boy Courtney van Beest also impressed with six assists and seven boards to go with his four points.
Brown opened the scoring for the Big Cats, but the opening exchanges proved to be even as the home side led 12-11 at the five minute mark before Team USA closed out the period on a 7-2 run to lead 22-17 at the first break.
That was as good as it got for the touring side as Fontaine drained a trey to open the second quarter and launch an 11-0 run which gave Leopards a lead they would never lose.
Free-throws from captain Carl Josey and Van Beest wrapped up the run before returning guard Tom Martin hit a jump shot to sent Leopards into half-time with a 37-26 lead.
Fontaine drained another three-pointer to open the second half Leopards’ scoring, and the lead peaked at 16 when Brown converted Iwueke;s pass before the Big Cats entered the final break with a 49-43 lead after a late run from the visitors.
That was as close as Team USA came as Brown and Lawman made it a double digit lead to open the fourth period, and despite Youngblood running his bench, the home side comfortably closed out the victory.
The Big Cats face Team USA’s B side in a scrimmage on Thursday before hosting London Lions at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday September 22 in their final pre-season game.
Meanwhile, Leopards have launched a new programme of basketball coaching for schools to encourage more participation in the sport following the Olympics.
Sessions cost just £30 an hour and include reduced price tickets for pupils to watch Leopards in action at Brentwood and participation in an inter schools basketball tournament.
The first initiative is being launched at Ingatestone Junior School on Friday Sept 13th at 9am where Leopards’ head coach Robert Youngblood will be running a taster session for a range of year groups with his players and then present a special basketball assembly.
PE teachers are also being invited to challenge the players at a shooting competition so hear the pupils roar for their teachers!
Coach Youngblood has had a 25-year playing career in England, Europe and America, and is a Level 3 coach.
He is a regular guest commentator on SKY during the NBA season he, along with his Level 2 coaches/players, are extremely excited to have the opportunity to give pupils exposure to top level basketball with the help of the new Olympic Legacy Funding.
Any school interested in running an Essex Leopards School of Basketball programme should contact Debbie Sidwell on 07754 341558 or e-mail email@example.com
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