Big 4th quarter sends Holon into cup semis

Ashkelon knocked out; Hap TA hopeful as three remaining quarterfinals tip-off tonight.

HAPOEL HOLON’S Patrick Sullivan 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
HAPOEL HOLON’S Patrick Sullivan 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Holon became the first team to book its place in the State Cup semifinals on Wednesday, thrashing Ironi Ashkelon 83-64 at home.
There was little to separate the teams in the first half, with the opening quarter ending in a 21-21 tie and Holon taking a five-point edge (38-33) into the break.
The game was still up for grabs going into the final period even though Ashkelon’s deficit had grown to seven points (59-52) by the end of the third.
However, Holon blew the visitors away in the fourth frame, extending its gap to 19 points (77-58) in five minutes, with Tasmin Mitchell’s three-pointer with 4:52 remaining effectively ending Ashkelon’s resistance.
Ron Lewis led Holon with 24 points and seven assists, while Moran Rot contributed 17 points and five assists and Patrick Sullivan and Bryant Dunston scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
“The final score doesn’t tell the story of the game. It was far from easy,” Holon coach Dan Shamir said. “I’m really really happy we won. I have won the cup in the past, but for me to simply reach the semifinals is still a dream.”
Rot was part of the Holon team which won the league title in 2007/08, but he wasn’t with the side when it took the cup in 2009 and he is hoping he will be able to lead it to another triumph this season.
“I’m happy I helped the side win, but this was a team effort,” Rot said. “We knew we were facing an excellent team. Ashkelon gave us a tough time in the first half, but we loosened up after the break.”
Raviv Limonad had 11 points for Ashkelon, which has also struggled in BSL play in recent weeks, winning one of its past five games.
“We couldn’t match Holon’s intensity and aggressiveness,” Ashkelon coach Eric Alfasi said. “You can’t afford to make mistakes against Holon and they deserve to be in the semifinals.”
The three other semifinalists will be decided on Thursday, with Hapoel Tel Aviv hoping for a repeat of last season’s Cinderella run.
The National League side stunned last season’s BSL runner-up Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the last 16 on Sunday, but it will have to be at its upsetting best once more to reach the last four for a second straight year.
The Reds come up against the in-form Maccabi Rishon Lezion, which has won its last two league games and knocked out Hapoel Jerusalem from the cup earlier this week.
The most lopsided showdown on Thursday is expected to be between Maccabi Tel Aviv, which has won seven straight games by at least 20 points, including a 90-68 victory at Bnei Hasharon in the last 16 on Monday, and Hapoel Afula of the National League.
Also Thursday, Maccabi Ashdod hosts BC Habika’a.