BASKETBALL: Leopards forward Simeon Esprit has been leading the way for England under-18s at the European Championship – but his efforts have proved in vain.

Esprit averaged a team-high eight points for Steve Bucknall’s team, adding 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a steal in just over 26 minutes per game.

England started the tournament with an excellent 65-63 win against an Estonian side who have subsequently reached the quarter-finals, with Esprit scoring 11 points and fellow Leopard Zak Wells pulling down five rebounds to his two points.

But subsequent losses against Belgium, Denmark and Portugal saw England miss out on a place in the quarter-finals and a chance of promotion to Division A, and they now drop into the nine to 19th place play-offs.

With those defeats against Belgium and Portugal being carried into the classification games, England now face an uphill battle to achieve a respectable final position.

Wells has also contributed to the England cause, averaging 5.5 points and five rebounds.

Esprit was a starter for the Big Cats last season as they enjoyed their best ever season in division one, while Wells provided valuable back-up and is expected to play a key role in next season’s team.