The Nottingham McDonald’s Hoods cruised to their first Division 1 victory, beating Essex Leopard 83-101, despite missing captain David ‘tintin’ Watts.
The Hoods made the journey south on Saturday in confident mood after a good week in training, but its was Leopards who started the strongest, taking an early lead as Hoods struggled to connect. 3 Offensive lay-ups in a row by Welle ended in a foul, sending him to the line where he got the scoring underway before Brownell drove to the basket to give Hoods a lead they would not relinquish. Powell then took over after a quiet game last weekend to score 7 straight points. James made his usual impact off the bench mid-way through the quarter with 7 points of his own as Leopards struggled to deal with his turn of pace. On the defensive end, the duo of Slavic and Welle were protecting the paint well enabling Hoods some easy fast-break opportunities, lead by Captain for the day, Luke Mitchell. A very strong quarter finished with the Hoods 22-33 up.
At the start of the 2nd Quarter, Leopards came out firing and soon had the lead back to just 6, before James again drove to the basket for 2, followed by 7 straight points from Maher. Wright then caught fire, hitting 3 threes in a row, adding 2 further lay-ups for a run of 13 points, before Mitchell and Brownell found their range from downtown to finish the quarter. The Hoods were cruising 41-61 at the half.
In the 3rd Quarter, the teams traded baskets for the first 5 minutes before a dreadful 2 minutes of play saw missed shots and turnovers for both teams ending in two Powell free-throws to give Hoods the biggest lead of the game at 22. Leopards then went on a run for themselves with some sharp-shooting, cutting the lead right back to 8 points towards the end of the quarter. A couple of Welle free-throws kept the lead in double figures at the end, 66-76.
Leopards started the final quarter strongest too, bringing the lead down to just 7, but Mitchell, Slavik and Welle brought stability back to the Hoods before a steal by youngster Olarerin gave him a fastbreak dunk to push the lead back to 12 and effectively finish the game off. Another 3 from Brownell and two free-throws from Slavic added a gloss top the final scoreline as Hoods comfortably ran out 83-101 winners and move into the Top 4 of Division 1.
Powell – 18 points – 6 rebounds – 4 assists – 1 steal
Welle – 16 points – 10 rebounds – 3 assists – 4 steals – 2 blocks
Brownell – 13 points – 3 rebounds – 2 assists
Wright – 13 points – 1 assist (60% 3pt)
Slavic – 12 points – 6 rebounds – 2 assists – 1 block
James – 12 points – 5 rebounds – 1 assist
Maher – 8 points – 5 rebounds – 1 assist
Mitchell – 5 points – 3 rebounds – 4 assists – 1 steal
Olarerin – 4 points – 1 rebound – 1 steal