Hapoel Holon takes opener vs Herzliya

McGee leads Goodes’s road warriors to tight triumph, now just one victory from championship

 HAPOEL HOLON’S Tyrus McGee (right) goes up to challenge a shot by Bnei Herzliya’s Chris Babb during Holon’s 78-71 road victory in Game 1 of the teams’ best-of-three Israel Winner League final series. McGee scored a game-high 23 points. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
HAPOEL HOLON’S Tyrus McGee (right) goes up to challenge a shot by Bnei Herzliya’s Chris Babb during Holon’s 78-71 road victory in Game 1 of the teams’ best-of-three Israel Winner League final series. McGee scored a game-high 23 points.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Hapoel Holon gutted out a 78-71 road win over Bnei Herzliya on Monday night to snatch home-court advantage and take a 1-0 series lead with a chance to close out the best-of-three finals with a win at home on Thursday.

Guy Goodes’s team was able to overcome third-quarter foul trouble to come from behind with a dominant fourth quarter thanks to game MVP Tyrus McGee. The American guard bested the Israeli league’s player-of-the-season

Chinanu Onuaku’s double-double to help Oren Aharoni’s squad notch the seven-point victory.

 HAPOEL HOLON guard Joe Ragland scored a game-high 40 points in his team's 93-78 road victory over Hapoel Jerusalem in Game 1 of their Israel Winner League best-of-three semifinal series. (credit: Dov Halickman) HAPOEL HOLON guard Joe Ragland scored a game-high 40 points in his team's 93-78 road victory over Hapoel Jerusalem in Game 1 of their Israel Winner League best-of-three semifinal series. (credit: Dov Halickman)

Herzliya’s outside shooting was off all night as Chris Babb and Quinton Hooker combined to go a paltry 2-of-17 from deep despite having a major advantage on the boards, out-rebounding Holon 43-35, which included 12 offensive rebounds.

The visitors, meanwhile, checked in with a 14-of-36 performance from downtown to go along with seven steals in the tough win.

Rafi Menco had the hot hand out of the gate for Holon with 13 points to give the visitors a six-point lead after 10 minutes, but Herzliya made sure to keep the game within striking distance thanks to Onuaku’s double-double by halftime to head into the break trailing 39-33.

Babb and Maurice Kemp helped the hosts take a 58-54 advantage after three quarters as a trio of players for Holon – Chris Johnson, Michale Kyser and Hayden Dalton – headed into the final frame with four fouls apiece.However, McGee and Joe Ragland helped mount a comeback as the pair of guards supplied the offense for Holon over the fourth quarter, while Dalton hit a couple of big three-pointers down the stretch and Kyser scored a huge floater in the paint as time wound down to seal the win for Goodes’s team.McGee led all scorers with 23 points, Ragland added 18 points and nine assists as Menco chipped in with 13 points, all coming in the first quarter. Onuaku dropped 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for Holon while Babb and Andy Van Vliet each scored 12 points in the loss.

“This was a very important win at a very tough place to play over a very good team,” Goodes said. “We were able to do some good things, but our big guys had some foul issues and Herzliya had a good momentum. However, we were able to come back as we hit some money-time baskets. This game really reminded me of the game against Jerusalem where it went a possession here and a possession there. Now we have to be ready and focused for Game 2 at home in order for us to do what we need to do.”

“This was a very closely fought final game and we were a bit tight shooting, which led to a very bad night from the outside,” Aharoni explained. “We made our comeback in the third quarter, but Dalton, Ragland and McGee made big baskets down the stretch. We now have to pull ourselves together and come back strong on Thursday.”

Kyser spoke about his key basket as time wound down to help Holon to the win.

“It’s just being prepared and being the player I need to be. When things aren’t going the way we want them to, we have other players who can step up. We have another game coming up which will be a tough one. I’m not getting too excited just yet.”

Herzliya swingman Sandy Cohen reflected on the game from his point of view.“Our offense was a little inconsistent at times and in games against Holon for the title we needed to be more consistent. We weren’t able to do that.”

Van Vliet scored the first points of the final inside the paint while Kyser answered with a mid-range jumper at the other end to get things rolling early on for Holon.

Hooker went from deep, Menco scored a layup off the baseline and then dialed up from long distance for a pair of triples while he added another deuce to give the Purples a 12-8 lead midway through the first quarter.“Chief” Onuaku began to get busy inside for Herzliya with a trio of buckets, though McGee responded at the other end with a three-pointer and a dunk. Ragland got his first points from beyond the arc as Menco matched him from the corner to keep Goodes’s squad in front 26-20 after an end-to-end opening frame.

McGee went from deep to begin the second quarter, while Babb did as well for Aharoni’s team, Then Johnson went from downtown and Ragland went in for a layup to open up an 11-point lead, (35-24) with 6:10 left in the first half.Kemp cleaned up a rebound, Ragland scored off a fast break and then added a layup, but Shawn Dawson responded at the other end to cut the Holon advantage to 39-33 at halftime.

The third quarter got under way as McGee went from downtown for the visitors and Onuaku scored inside for the hosts. Kemp then took an Onuaku ball and found points in the paint, but Ragland went from deep to keep Holon ahead 49-42 midway through the frame.

McGee drilled a deep triple while Babb did the same, but with Johnson and Keyser each with four fouls Holon went ice cold from the field as Hooker collected points on free-throws, while Babb and Van Vliet each dropped three-point plays to snatch a 58-54 lead for Herzliya after 30 minutes of action.

Van Vliet drained a corner three-ball as did Guy Pnini to start off the fourth quarter, while Dawson scored a floater in the lane. McGee scored from the line, went in for a layup and then drilled a triple to pull Holon back to just one point down (65-64) with 6:41 remaining in regulation.

With the sides going toe-to-toe down the stretch, Dalton went from deep before Kyser scored a tear drop as the shot-clock expired to secure Holon the gutsy Game 1 conquest.