Essex Leopards humble table-topping Hemel Storm at Garon Park

ISH Fontaine led the way as Essex Leopards condemned table-topping Hemel Storm to their first defeat of the season at Garon Park on Sunday.

Fontaine bagged 18 points as the Big Cats triumphed 76-58.

And the 23-year-old was thrilled to help the team come out on top.

“I said before the game that it would be an epic battle because of our team’s history and it really was,” said Fontaine.

“We played great team ball and proved that we all have a very positive mindset.

“I’m just pleased to win no matter who is doing the scoring but I’m also glad I could contribute and I’m chuffed my scoring helped.”

Leopards led 23-21 at the end of the first quarter and 34-30 at half-time. The Big Cats then roared clear in the third to go 58-40 in front.

And that saw them recover from the 81-73 overtime defeat they suffered at Manchester Magic the day before.

“Losing the game was a real heart breaker,” said Fontaine.

“We had a lot of opportunities to win the game late, but didn't take them.

“This resulted in us losing in overtime and losing our winning streak, which was a tough pill to swallow.”

But Fontaine’s mood was lifted by how Leopards immediately battled back to winning ways against the league leaders Hemel.

“Great sports teams in the past and present always talk about bouncing back from a loss and I’m really happy to say we mirrored that philosophy on Sunday against an awesome Hemel side,” said Fontaine, who spent three years with the MK Lions before joining Leopards last season.

“I also really enjoyed the crowd on Sunday and I hope we can have even more of an atmosphere when we next return to Southend.”

Howard Crawford also chipped in with 17 points to help Leopards secure the victory, while Kris Clark added 14.

Leopards are now fourth in English Basketball League Division One’s standings having won five of their first six games.

The Big Cats are four points behind table topping Hemel but have games in hand on the three teams above them.

Leopards are now back in action on Sunday when they take on Reading Rockets in the quarter finals of the National Cup at the Brentwood Centre, tip off 2pm.

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