Hapoel Haifa downed visiting Hapoel Jerusalem 73-71 on Monday night in Israel Winner League action as Gregory Vargas’s clutch shooting along with a James Ennis three-pointer as time wound down secured the upset victory.Jerusalem jumped out to an early lead as Retin Obasohan and KC Rivers paced Yotam Halperin’s squad, but an inspired Vargas and Amit Simhon helped the Elad Hasin’s team to a 38-30 advantage at halftime.
Spencer Weisz and a banged-up Kadeem Allen kept Haifa in front after three quarters, but Obasohan closed the gap and the game remained neck-and-neck down the stretch.
However, buckets by Vargas and a key corner three-pointer by newcomer Ennis sewed up the two-point win.
Vargas led the way for Haifa with 20 points, Weisz scored 11 points while Allen and Simhon added 10 points apiece in the win. Obasohan paced league-leading Jerusalem with 23 points, Suleiman Braimoh added 17 pointers and Rivers scored 11 points in the loss.
“It was a difficult game against a great Jerusalem team,” Weisz said. “We won this game with our toughness on the defensive end. A total team effort, but what Kadeem did in coming back from his injury in the second half was truly special. He’s an amazing player with great character.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba stunned second place Maccabi Tel Aviv 74-71 in the southern capital as the Reds used their physicality to push the visitors around in order to take the well-deserved win.
The yellow-and-blue took an early lead as Angelo Caloiaro led the way to a 34-20 lead midway through the second quarter.
But Junior Etou helped Christoforos Livadiotis’s Beersheba squad rolled off a 17-2 run to end the first half in front 37-36.
Dererk Pardon and Cody Demps, along with the active Etou, continued to power the hosts over the third quarter while Keenan Evans and John DiBartolomeo countered for Maccabi, though Beersheba bumped up its lead to 57-54 after 30 minutes.
Netta Segal hit his shots in the final frame while Etou continued to fill the basket as James Nunnally, and then DiBartolomeo, missed potential game-tying three-pointers as time expired to hand Beersheba the dramatic victory.
Etou led the way with 24 points, Pardon added 11 points and 15 rebounds while Demps scored 19 points in the win. Evans scored 16 points, Caloiaro added 15 points and DiBartolomeo scored 14 points for Tel Aviv in defeat.
“Sometimes the statsheet doesn’t tell the story of the game, but the stats do in this case as we had 45 rebounds to Maccabi’s 29,” Livadiotis said. “This shows the desire and energy that we wanted to get to any loose ball. We had 18 assists and we kept Maccabi on nine which showed that we were very organized on defense and we didn’t let them move the ball. We moved the ball really well and had the most spot up shots than in any other game. This is the picture of the game.”
Maccabi’s interim coach, Avi Even, also reflected on the loss.
“We had to finish the game off when we had the chance and a big lead and we couldn’t,” Even said. “We weren’t focused enough in the second half against a team that plays tough at home. In this league when you play on the road you can take your foot off the gas.”
Elsewhere, Bnei Herzliya defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 74-63 as the hosts went on a 12-1 run over the final six minutes of the game to take the victory.
Chinanu Onuaku, Shawn Dawson and DJ Cooper helped Oren Aharoni’s squad jump out to a 24-16 lead after 10 minutes, but JP Tokoto, James Young and Bar Timor made sure to pull Danny Franco’s team even at 62-62 midway through the fourth quarter.
However, Herzliya’s defense locked down the Reds and Chris Babb drilled home two of his six three-pointers to take the 11-point win.
Onuaku led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds, Babb added 18 points, Dawson chipped in with 11 points while Cooper dished out 11 assists in the win.
Tokoto paced Hapoel with 23 points, Young scored 11 points while both Timor and Josh Owens scored 10 points a piece in the loss.
By the Red Sea, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil squeaked by Hapoel Eilat 97-94 in overtime after coming all the way back from 20 points down in the fourth quarter to take the surprise win down south.
Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad controlled the game from the outset and took a 71-51 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining thanks to strong play from Kristian Doolittle, Roie Huber and Bryon Allen.
But Michael Brisker and Ronnie Harrell hit big shot after big shot down the stretch for Gilboa to knot the score up at 78-78 to head into overtime.
In the extra session, Brisker and Tyus Battle made shots in money time to escape Eilat with the shocking three-point victory.
Brisker led all scorers with 29 points, Harrell added 20 points and Battle scored 16 points in the win. Roie Huber scored 20 points for Eilat, Allen chipped in with 18 points while Doolittle scored 16 points in the defeat.
In the wine city, Hapoel Holon defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 78-62 as Joe Ragland paced Guy Goodes’s squad to the 16-point victory ahead of its clash in Germany against Ludwigsburg in Champions League round-of-16 group stage play.
Ragland scored 18 points, added seven rebounds and dished out eight assists, Rafi Menco had 12 points while Chris Johnson and Tyrus McGee each had 10 points in the win.
Tu Holloway led Rishon with 17 points and Anthony Brown chipped in with 15 points in the loss.
Also, Ness Ziona hit the century mark in crushing Hapoel Galil Elyon 100-80 as a trio of guards scored 20+ points apiece.
Golan Gutt, Frank Bartley and Diante Garrett filled the basket over the final 30 minutes of the game to help Ness Ziona take the victory. The Galilee squad grabbed a 23-19 lead after 10 minutes, but Lior Lubin’s team came back to take a 55-47 lead at halftime and never looked back in the win.
Gutt starred for the hosts with 26 points and 12 rebounds, Bartley added 24 points and Garrett chipped in with 21 points and seven assists.
For visiting Galil Elyon, Nimrod Levi led the way with 22 points, Chavaughn Lewis scored 17 points and Ike Iroegbu added 16 points in the defeat.