Hapoel Holon sneaks past Maccabi Tel Aviv

Both clubs prepare for European playoffs • Ness Ziona tops Rishon • Herzliya handles Hapoel Haifa

 Michael Kaiser (12) and Hapoel Holon gave Maccabi Tel Aviv all it could handle, earning a narrow 85-82 home victory in Israel Winner League action.  (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Michael Kaiser (12) and Hapoel Holon gave Maccabi Tel Aviv all it could handle, earning a narrow 85-82 home victory in Israel Winner League action.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Hapoel Holon slipped by Maccabi Tel Aviv 85-82 as Hayden Dalton had the hot hand for the hosts with seven three-pointers in the high-octane conquest

Guy Goodes’s squad went 18-of-39 (46%) from beyond the arc to take the victory. With the win, the Purples leapfrogged over the yellow-and-blue, which dropped to third place in the Israel Winner League standings as both teams will now prepare for their respective European clashes this week.

Holon will travel to Strasbourg for the second game of the best-of-three Basketball Champions League quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday as Goodes’s side holds a 1-0 lead and will look to wrap up the series and punch its ticket to the Final Four, which will take place in Bilbao over the first weekend in May.

Maccabi welcomes Fenerbahce on Wednesday in the regular season Euroleague finale, where a win will set up the Israeli club with a best-of-five quarterfinal series against Real Madrid.

Should Avi Even’s team fall to the Turkish club, it will instead tip off against Milano while in both cases Maccabi will not hold home-court advantage.

“Both teams came in to play this game,” Goodes said following Holon’s win over Maccabi.

“We had been just using our practices for maintenance, shooting and tactics. We prepared for this before the month of March and we spoke about the fact that there won’t be time to rest and get ready. The schedule allowed us to get into good shape and each player is finding his spot. The fans were great and we had a terrific game of basketball at a very high level which I am happy that we won.”

Even also commented on the loss for his side.

“After a long trip, we played against a tough team on a tough home court and we didn’t hit at our usual percentages which hurt us,” said Maccabi’s interim coach. “On defense we weren’t able to stop their most dangerous weapon, the three, and that really damaged us.”

Holon jumped out to the early lead with Dalton, Tyrus McGee and Chris Johnson pacing the hosts as Ante Ziziz, Roman Sorkin and Iftach Ziv answered for Maccabi.

After Goodes’s team took a 50-46 lead at halftime, Scottie Wibekin and James Nunnnally scored their first points of the game to get the third quarter under way, but Dalton answered with a deuce and a triple and Johnson also went from deep as Holon stayed ahead 58-54 midway through the period.

McGee dialed up from long distance twice, Keenan Evans went from deep, Frederic Bourdillon answered with one of his own, John DiBartolomeo and Guy Pnini traded three-pointers as Holon kept the lead 72-67 after 30 minutes.

Blayzer drained a dead-center three-pointer to start off the fourth quarter, Ragland scored a lay-up and free throws to bump up the advantage to 79-72 with 5:12 remaining in regulation time.

Dalton dropped yet another triple, Evans responded with a three-point play and a three-pointer, but the two teams traded free-throws down the stretch and Holon held on to take the tight victory.

Dalton, the game’s MVP, reflected on the game.

“When I arrived here I got injured and I was out for a month and a half. I worked hard to come back and then I worked hard to get into shape. My coach back home told me that I had to be ready when they called my name; I was ready and I enjoyed the game.”

Blayzer also looked back at the game that was.

“They hit from beyond the arc at very high percentages and 18 three-pointers is a tremendous amount. We battled the entire way and we hoped to win, but we are still undergoing a process as a team.”

Meanwhile, Ness Ziona downed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 99-75 as six players scored in double digits to record the win.

The victory keeps Lior Lubin’s squad in prime position to clinch a playoff spot while Rishon moved that much closer to being relegated to the Leumit League as it is mired in last place.

Diamon Simpson got to work inside for Rishon Lezion while Frank Bartley countered from the outside for Ness Ziona as the hosts grabbed a 22-19 lead after the first quarter.

Garrett started getting hot from deep while Bartley continued to score for Lubin’s team, but Archie Goodwin caught fire to end the half with 19 points and give Dror Cohen’s team a slim 47-46 lead.

Golan Gutt couldn’t miss in the third quarter as the Israeli hit a quartet of triples while Garrett added points as well to help Ness Ziona end the period with a 74-58 advantage from which it coasted.

Garrett led the way with 20 points, Gutt finished the game with 15 points and the newly reacquired Wayne Selden Selden added 14 points in the win. Goodwin scored 22 points, Simpson added 15 points and 10 boards while Tu Holloway scored 12 points in the loss.

“At halftime we spoke about playing together and being stronger,” noted Gutt, the game’s MVP. “As for my third quarter I just do what I know and when it comes together it’s very hard to stop me and I am happy that is what happened.”

Up north, Bnei Herzliya defeated Hapoel Haifa 89-64 as five players finished in double digits to hand Oren Aharoni’s club the win by the Carmel Mountain.

After going down 27-21 after 10 minutes, the visitors stymied Haifa as they held the hosts to just nine second-quarter points, which set the tone for Herzliya to dominate the second half and notch the win.

Maurice Kemp scored 20 points, Chinanu Onuaku added 18 points, Chris Babbs chipped in with 16 points while DJ Cooper recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. James Dickey paced Haifa with 22 points and Gregory Vargas added 12 points in the loss.

“I think it was a good team effort tonight,” Kemp said following the win. “They came out very strong in the first half so we had to focus on our team defense and I think that secured the victory for us.”