Ironi Ness Ziona kept alive its lingering hopes of clinching a top-four seed in the BSL playoffs after claiming a dramatic 83-81 overtime victory at Bnei Herzliya on Monday night.
Ness Ziona trailed for the first 19 minutes of the second half, but moved in front in the final minute, only for Herzliya’s Stanley Burrell to force overtime with a three-pointer with 12 seconds to play.
However, the visitors remained in control in the extra five minutes to improve to a 12-9 record.
Diamon Simpson had 18 points for Ness Ziona, with Tyler Honeycutt contributing 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Burrell led Herzliya (6-15) with 24 points.
The victory moved Ness Ziona within a single game of Hapoel Tel Aviv ahead of next week’s final regular season game.
Ness Ziona holds the tiebreaker over Hapoel thanks to its two victories over the Reds this season.
However, it will need to beat Hapoel Eilat at home next Monday and for Tel Aviv to lose to rock-bottom Maccabi Ashdod at Hadar Yosef Arena to move into the top four and clinch homecourt advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs.
The league will be split in two after next week, with the top four to duel for position, playing each other twice more, after already securing home-court advantage in the playoffs, which will begin at the end of April.
The bottom eight sides will face each other once more for the four remaining playoff berths. The team in last place will be demoted to the National League.
There was nothing to separate the teams at the break (42-42) on Monday and the game wouldn’t be decided until the final buzzer.
A Preston Knowles triple handed Ness Ziona a 71-70 edge with 52 seconds to play, its first lead since the start of the second quarter.
However, Burrell’s three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining leveled the score (73-73) and sent the game to overtime.
Ness Ziona began the extra period with a three courtesy of Knowles, but it was its defense which secured the victory.
Herzliya was held to just four points in the first three minutes of overtime and Ness Ziona eked out a crucial win.