Bnei Herzliya triumphant in raucous overtime bout

Bnei Herzliya overcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv in a 96-88 overtime victory.

HAPOEL TEL AVIV guard Demontz Steet 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
HAPOEL TEL AVIV guard Demontz Steet 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Bnei Herzliya overcame a feisty Hapoel Tel Aviv team and over 2,000 of its fervent fans to claim a 96-88 overtime victory in BSL action on Monday night.
The fan-owned Hapoel was set up under the name of Hapoel Ussishkin five years ago and eventually took over the name and heritage rights of the original Hapoel Tel Aviv team before gaining promotion to the top flight last season.
However, it will have to wait a little longer for its first BSL win after coming up just short against Herzliya in a thrilling encounter in its new home in Rishon Lezion.
Romel Beck led Herzliya with 29 points, with Ben Rice adding 22 points after going scoreless in the first half.
Jumaine Jones contributed 19 points and 18 rebounds while Niv Berkowitz provided 16 points and nine assists.
“I’ve been waiting for this game for an entire year,” said an emotional Rice, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury.
Demontez Stitt had 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Hapoel, with Curtis Kelly scoring 16 points and Bar Timor and Matan Naor contributing 13 points each.
The Hapoel fans rocked the arena long before the tip-off and their team responded with a quick start despite losing Matt Bouldin to an early injury, with a Naor steal followed by a layup opening a 9-2 advantage.
A Timor basket increased Hapoel’s lead to nine points (17-8), but Beck wouldn’t allow the hosts to run away with the game, cutting the gap to a single point (19-18) at the end of the quarter.
Tel Aviv simply had no answer for Beck and the Mexican forward took his personal tally to 16 points and his team’s to 28 with a three-pointer that gave Herzliya a three-point edge (28-25).
The teams were separated by just a single point (44-43) at the break after a basket from Stitt and the hosts moved into the lead by scoring the first seven points of the second half, five straight by Naor followed by another Stitt field goal.
However, Herzliya had the edge ahead of the final frame after catching fire from beyond the arc, with a Rice three to end the third period giving the visitors a 66-60 lead.
Rice hit two more triples at the start of the fourth quarter, opening a seven-point margin (72-65), but Hapoel came right back, with Yotam Shiran’s two points tying the game at 74-74 midway through the frame.
There was still nothing to separate the teams at the final buzzer with the game going into overtime after both sides squandered opportunities in the final minute.
Points were at a premium at the start of the extra period and crucially it was Herzliya which broke out of the slump first, with a Jones three with 1:40 remaining opening a six-point margin (90-84) from which Hapoel could not return.