Local Basketball: Lyons impresses in Jerusalem victory

Local Basketball Lyons

The BSL season doesn't get underway until the end of the month, but teenage star prospect Jeremy Tyler already got his chance to show what he can do on Sunday evening in the quarterfinals of the preseason Winner Cup tournament. However, the 18-year-old, who sensationally gave up on his final year at San Diego High School to go pro with Maccabi Haifa this summer, could only manage four points in just over 15 minutes on court as Avi Ashkenazi's team came from behind to defeat Ironi Nahariya 77-73. Instead, it was another much-talked about young power forward, Leo Lyons, who stole the show at Malha, with an outstanding performance in Hapoel Jerusalem's 96-81 rout of Hapoel Holon in the second quarterfinal of the evening. Lyons scored a game-leading 23 points, including 13 points in the first half and then seven in a row to the start the second half for Guy Goodes's men, delighting the local fans who packed the arena, creating an electric atmosphere. It wasn't only Lyons who controlled the play for Jerusalem, which was far more impressive than Haifa in its victory. Tre Simmons, who spent most of last season on the bench for Maccabi Tel Aviv, proved his worth with a superb showing, scoring 15 points for the team in red. Ashkenazi admitted it will take time for Tyler to adapt to the professional game, but said he will be patient with the 2.11 meter guard who averaged 28.7 points during his junior season in San Diego. "The international focus on him doesn't help. He is a great talent and we will take it step by step," he said. Haifa will play Jerusalem in one of Wednesday's two semifinals, a repeat of last season's BSL Final Four semifinal which Haifa won. The second semifinal will be decided on Monday when Maccabi Tel Aviv's revamped team will be expected to easily get the better of Ironi Ashkelon and Galil/Gilboa faces Bnei Hasharon. Maccabi Haifa 77, Ironi Nahariya 73 The arena was sparsely filled as the first quarterfinal got underway. And while Haifa was the clear favorite, having finished second in both the league and State Cup last season, it was Nahariya which grabbed control of the game. Ya'akov Gino's team stormed into a 19-13 lead in the first quarter and kept a stranglehold on the game all the way through to the final minutes. Tyler was brought into the game in the second quarter and announced his entry with a stunning dunk. But it was former Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Dror Hagag who made the biggest impact for the Greens in the first half, scoring eight points to keep his team within six points (44-39) at the break. Haifa still couldn't get in front until six and a half minutes before the end when a Devon Jefforson three pointer gave it a 61-59 lead it wouldn't relinquish. Nahariya made a final push in the last two minutes but was unable to overcome the scoring power of Maccabi in the final straight. Hapoel Jerusalem 96, Hapoel Holon 81 The Holon and Jerusalem fans had already begun filling the stands in the fourth quarter of the previous game, creating a noise fitting of a cup final by the time the second match up tipped off. Jerusalem took the game by the scruff of the neck from the start, and it wasn't until the fourth minute that Holon finally got some points on the board with Yoni Nir scoring from close to the free throw line to make it 6-2. Holon kept up with its opponent for much of the first quarter, but by the end of the first 10 minutes was already down 28-19. Lyons came into his own at the start of the second quarter, slamming down a dunk to give Jerusalem a 20-point lead (41-21) with 6:20 left in the half. While Holon pulled itself back into the encounter, ending the half only ten points behind (51-41), the young team in purple couldn't keep up with Jerusalem in the second half. By the end of the third quarter Jerusalem was leading by 25 points (76-51) and the rest of the game was garbage time.