Regular season finally winds down

Haifa, Jerusalem prime for playoffs with conquests • Rishon stuns Mac TA again

HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Bar Timor goes to the basket during the Reds’ 102-67 home victory over Hapoel Holon in both teams’ final regular-season contest (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Bar Timor goes to the basket during the Reds’ 102-67 home victory over Hapoel Holon in both teams’ final regular-season contest
Maccabi Haifa slipped by Hapoel Beersheba 87-83 in a tightly contested basketball battle down south that saw the Reds knocked out of playoff contention, while the Greens took sixth place and earned a quarterfinal date with Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Andrew Andrews, with 29 points and six assists, starred for Haifa with a huge third quarter and made his free throws late in the final frame to secure the win. Reggie Upshaw added 14 points and 11 rebounds, Roman Sorkin chipped in with 13 points while Willy Workman scored 11 points in the win.
Caleb Agada led Beersheba with 17 points and Joe Furstinger notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a losing cause.
After the game, Haifa’s Workman reflected on the tough win.
“Every time you play a Rami Hadar team you know it will be a battle. They beat us up at first, but we adjusted and made plays down the stretch.”
The Haifa captain also looked ahead to the playoffs.
“Rishon’s a great team playing great basketball. I’m excited for the challenge in the most important time of the year.”
Beersheba came out of the gate strong as Amit Suss hit his shots early for the Southern Reds, but Andrews was up to the task for the Greens and led them on a 15-0 run that gave the visitors a 24-20 lead after the opening stanza.
Suss continued his scoring outburst while Furstinger found the basket as well, but Upshaw and Jerai Grant gave Daniel Seoane’s club a lead (40-32) late in the second quarter. However, Spencer Weisz rattled off points to send Rami Hadar’s squad on a 10-2 run to end the half all knotted up at 42-42.
Weisz continued where he left off and Caleb Agada got into the act, but Andrews dropped 16 points in the third quarter to put Haifa ahead 68-61 going into the final frame.
Agada began the fourth quarter on fire and Amir Bell put the hosts in the lead 73-72 with 6:14 remaining in regulation. The squads continued to trade baskets, but Andrews and Upshaw hit their free throws down the stretch to take the four-point conquest.
Meanwhile, host Hapoel Jerusalem steamrolled Hapoel Holon 102-67 as the Reds will enter the playoffs in second place and will play Ness Ziona in the quarterfinals.
Hapoel Holon finished the regular season in fourth and will face Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the postseason.
The Reds dominated play from the get-go and cruised to victory. Nimrod Levi led Jerusalem with 16 points, Bar Timor added 14 points while Emanuel Terry scored 12 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and was a plus 37 on the night. Jimmy Hall was the high scorer for Holon with 20 points in the loss.
Jerusalem coach Oded Katash spoke about the upcoming postseason and the challenges that it will present.
“It’s the mental side,” he noted. “The playoffs will be very close and tough, more than people think, especially teams that have changed foreign players. The biggest test will be to find the passion. We have to come ready to go and the biggest challenge is to come in mentally strong.”
Jerusalem jumped out quickly as Idan Zalmanson did the damage inside while John Holland and Levi worked from the outside as the Reds grabbed a 32-22 lead after 10 minutes.
Shavon Coleman helped Holon cut into the Jerusalem lead early in the second quarter, but James Feldeine, Su Braimoh and Terry kept Oded Katash’s squad ahead 56-38 at halftime.
Timor began the third quarter with six straight Jerusalem points as the Reds continued to pour on the offense, and Levi also found the bottom of the bucket to give Hapoel 86-54 lead heading into the final frame. There was no stopping Jerusalem in the fourth quarter as it ran away with the 35-point victory.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Rishon Lezion shocked Maccabi Tel Aviv 86-77 to defeat the yellow-and-blue for the second time in 10 days. The defeat was Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad’s first on home court in domestic league action this season as the yellow-and-blue will now ready to open the playoffs at Yad Eliyahu on Saturday night against city-rival Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Rishon will now prepare to play Maccabi Haifa in their quarterfinal tilt at Beit Maccabi.
Guy Goodes’s center Zach Hankins once again bested the Maccabi duo of Othello Hunter and Amar’e Stoudemire as the big man led his team with 18 points, while D’Angelo Harrison notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists and Adam Ariel dropped 13 points in the win.
Yovel Zoosman recorded his season high with 18 points, Angelo Caloiaro added 16 points and Deni Avdija chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.
“I’m just very alive when we play Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said D’Angelo Harrison following the win. “I try to play hard and make sure my teammates get involved and I make sure my teammates are ready to go. Coach makes the game plan and we follow it.”
Also, Maccabi Ashdod shocked Hapoel Tel Aviv 106-105 in overtime at the Port City for its first win of the third round of play, coming back from a 20+-point deficit.
Paul Stoll once again stole the show with 26 points and a dozen assists while ex-Hapoel swingman Zuf Ben Moshe had a career night with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
NBA Draft Prospect Yam Madar had a career night for the Reds with 28 points while Tomer Ginat added 22 points in a loss that will now see coach Ioannis Kastritis’s squad face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the quarterfinals.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil defeated Ness Ziona 90-82 thanks to a strong effort by Michael Young with 30 points and 11 rebounds as the Galilee squad won its seventh game in a row to finish the regular season in fifth place.
Gilboa will meet Hapoel Holon in the playoffs, while Ness Ziona will play Hapoel Jerusalem in the quarterfinals, as big man Cameron Oliver led the way with 20 points in the defeat.
The Hapoel Eilat and Ironi Nahariya game was postponed due to one of the Eilat assistant coaches testing positive for the coronavirus.