Jerusalem, Ashdod roll on in State Cup

Oded Katash's men get back on track with victory at Hapoel Afula.

Rich Hap J'lem 311 (photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem website)
Rich Hap J'lem 311
(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem website)
Hapoel Jerusalem got back to winning ways on Wednesday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the State Cup, while Maccabi Ashdod continued its sizzling form, thrashing Bnei Hasharon on its way to the last-eight.
After suffering a heartbreaking early exit from the Eurocup with a home defeat to Cajasol Sevilla last week, Jerusalem was humbled by 23 points at Ashdod on Sunday, turning what would usually be regarded as a straightforward cup game at Hapoel Afula into a high-pressure encounter.
Still without the injured Brian Randle and Yuval Naimi, Jerusalem led throughout Wednesday’s game, but had to withstand a late Afula comeback attempt before recording an 83-75 victory over its National League opponent.
Oded Katash’s men led 46-34 at the break and seemed to have a comfortable 16-point cushion (71-55) heading into the final 10 minutes.
However, Afula ate away at the gap in the fourth period and Jerusalem would only finally clinch the win in the closing minutes.
Jason Rich scored 19 points for Jerusalem, with Moshe Mizrahi adding 17 points and the fit-again Yogev Ohayon contributing 15.
Darnell Huge had 23 points for Afula.
“Hopefully we will have 10 fit players for tomorrow’s training session so we can prepare properly for next week’s tough games against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil,” Katash said. “We went through a bit of a crisis, but I’m sure that the return of the injured players will see us get back on track.”
With six wins in its past seven league games, Ashdod has been the surprise package in the BSL so far this season.
Ofer Berkowitz’s team continued its impressive run in the cup on Wednesday, beating Bnei Hasharon 88-74.
The visitors got off to the better start, leading 29-22 after 10 minutes.
However, at halftime the score was tied at 50-50 and with one quarter to play Ashdod led by seven points (68-61).
The final period would belong to Ashdod, which seems to be improving with every week.
Josh Duncan had 25 points for the winners, with Meir Tapiro adding 20 points and 10 assists.
Lee Nailon scored 21 points for Bnei Hasharon, which has won just once in its last five games in all competitions.
Maccabi Haifa got a pleasant distraction from its BSL troubles on Wednesday, claiming a one-sided 92-73 win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion in Nesher.
Sylven Landesberg had 22 points for Haifa, which has lost six straight league games, with Raymar Morgan scoring 18 points for Rishon.
Also Wednesday, Barak Netanya crushed Maccabi Hod Hasharon 93-48.
BC Habika’a hosts Ironi Ashkelon in the final last-16 encounter on Thursday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil receiving a bye into the last eight.
National League leader Hapoel Tel Aviv advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
The draw to determine the last-eight matchups will be held on Thursday.