Hapoel J’lem outlasts Netanya, wraps up 3rd

Mac TA shaky in OT win at Ashkelon; Gilboa/Galil beats Holon, finishes in 2nd place.

Brian Randle 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Brian Randle 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem snapped its three-game BSL losing streak with an 84-81 victory over Barak Netanya in its final game of the regular season on Thursday night, booking a quarterfinal playoff meeting with Maccabi Ashdod.
Jerusalem’s play was once more disappointing, but it managed to eke out the win and ensured itself the No. 3 seed ahead of the playoffs, which begin next week.
Jerusalem got the game off to a bright start, leading 28-20 after 10 minutes.
Oded Katash’s team finally found its range from beyond the arc and looked to be in complete control at the break, opening a 48-32 margin after hitting seven of 10 three-pointers.
Hapoel still held a double-digit gap entering the fourth quarter (64-53), but in the final 10 minutes it showed once more how fragile a team it can be.
Netanya began the period with a 15-3 run, capped by a Tony Washam basket, to take a 68-67 lead with 5:18 to play.
Will Solomon hit two straight threes to put Jerusalem in the driver’s seat once more (73-68) and the visitors held off a Netanya comeback in the final minutes for an unimpressive yet morale-boosting win.
Solomon led Jerusalem with 18 points, with Yuval Naimi scoring 15.
Washam had 23 points for Netanya, which knew even before Thursday’s games that it will play Maccabi Tel Aviv in the playoffs.
Maccabi Tel Aviv nearly lost its first BSL game since November on Thursday, eventually edging Ironi Ashkelon 96-92 in overtime.
Ashkelon had its chances to win at the end of regulation, but failed to convert them and Maccabi escaped with its 20th consecutive league win.
Lior Eliyahu led Tel Aviv with 24 points, with Cory Carr scoring 29 points for Ashkelon, which will face Maccabi Haifa in the relegation playoffs.
Haifa beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion 76-70 on Thursday to cap an impressive ending to its season, which nearly saw it sneak into the quarterfinal playoffs.
Elishay Kadir led five Haifa players in double-figures with 14 points, while Aaron McGhee scored 18 for Rishon.
Bnei Hasharon will face Rishon in the playoffs after ending the regular season in fourth place despite thrashing Maccabi Ashdod 92-71 on Thursday.
Ron Steele had 18 points and eight assists for Bnei Hasharon, with Josh Duncan leading Ashdod with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Also Thursday, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil wrapped up second position, beating Hapoel Holon 87-75 for its sixth win in seven games.
Gilboa and Holon will get to know each other even better over the next three weeks when they will play each other at least three more times in the playoffs.
Gilboa hopes the best-of-five series will be just as straightforward as Thursday’s game, with the hosts holding a comfortable lead throughout the encounter.
Marco Killingsworth had 19 points and eight rebounds for Gilboa, with Rich Melzer scoring 28 points for Holon, which has lost six of its last seven contests.