PLENETTE PIERSON (15) and Maccabi Ashdod battle_370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Ashdod clinched an historic championship in thrilling fashion on
Thursday night, beating Elizur Ramle 70-66 in overtime in the fifth and decisive
game of the women’s playoff finals.
Ramle, last season’s champion, took a
2-1 lead in the series with a win in Ashdod last week, but failed to clinch the
title at home in Game 4 and Ashdod completed its comeback with a dramatic
overtime victory on Thursday, adding a first-ever championship to the State Cup
it won earlier this year.
“We deserved this,” said Ashdod coach Edni
“My players showed amazing character and won an unbelievable
“Ramle deserves a lot of credit for fighting until the end, but we
deserved this win.”
Naomi Kolodny, who had averaged just 5.6 points per
game in the regular season, came up with a massive clutch contribution, leading
Ashdod with 17 points, including her team’s last five from the free-throw
Ashley Shields added 16 points for Ashdod, with Tanisha Wright
scoring 22 for Ramle, which ended the season empty handed after winning the
championship, State Cup and Eurocup last season.
The pressure took its
toll on both teams at the start of the game, but Ashdod would record the first
run of the night, opening a 14-7 lead through a Plenette Pierson basket that
capped a 10-1 surge.
Kolodny’s desperation threepointer at the buzzer
extended Ashdod’s gap to eight points (17-9) after 10 minutes and Shields’s
basket took the gap to double-digits (21-11) at the start of the second
However, Game 5 would epitomize the entire series, going back and
forth until the very end.
Ramle ate away at the margin as the second
quarter drew to a close and Michal Epstein’s shot tied the score at
There was still nothing to separate the teams at the break (33-
33), but Ashdod had the edge (46-43) with 10 minutes to play.
Ramle began the final frame with a 10-2 run, with points from Wright being
followed by Alana Beard’s basket to give the visitors a fivepoint cushion
As expected, however, there would be plenty more momentum swings
in the game, with Kolodny scoring two more important points to tie the score at
55-55 with 3:05 to play.
An acrobatic effort by Wright with 49 seconds
left put the defending champion back in front (58-57), but Ramle would waste a
golden opportunity to wrap up the win with 15 seconds to go.
Selwyn’s inbound pass was picked off by Tamera Young, who could only hit one of
two free throws to tie the game after an unsportsmanlike foul by
Ashdod had an opportunity to clinch the win in regulation, but
Shields would miss at the buzzer and the game went into
Pierson’s basket with 33.8s to play in the extra period put
Ashdod in the driving seat (65- 62), but Wright scored moments later to make it
a one-point game yet again.
The championship would eventually come down
to free throw accuracy and Kolodny would step up to win the game for
Her first shot from the line with 8.7s remaining made it 68-66
and Kolodny snapped up the rebound from her second missed free throw before
being fouled once more and scoring twice from the charity stripe to clinch the