Local hoops: Holon, Haifa both win on road to knot up series

Jerusalem moves to within one win of Final Four.

Hapoel Holon 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Holon 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Holon and Maccabi Haifa claimed crucial road victories in Game 2 of the BSL quarterfinal playoffs on Sunday night, tying their series' at 1-1. Holon beat Hapoel Galil/Gilboa 63-61 in Gan Ner thanks to Brian Tolbert's clutch three-pointer, while Haifa edged Bnei Hasharon 75-71 in a tense affair in Ra'anana. Hapoel Jerusalem is now favored to be the first team to advance to the Final Four on Thursday after taking a 2-0 lead in its series against Ironi Nahariya on Sunday night. Jerusalem defeated Nahariya 92-79 despite Ron Lewis scoring 39 points for the hosts. On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to rebound from its stunning Game 1 loss when its visits Ironi Ashkelon. In Gan Ner, the teams combined for three of 19 from the field in the first five minutes and Yehu Orland's three-pointer gave Galil a 17-13 lead after a scrappy first quarter. After only managing to score 26 points in the first half, it was no surprise Galil trailed by 12 at the break (38-26), but the hosts began to close the margin in the third quarter and were down by only four points with 10 minutes to play (50-46). A Guni Izraeli three with 2:45 to play tied the score at 56-56, and the game was still deadlocked in the final minute. However, with 31 seconds to play, Tolbert hit a superb three from the corner and Holon held on for the crucial win. Tolbert scored 15 for Holon, with Uri Kukia adding 13 points and nine rebounds. "Everybody knew this would be a tough series," Tolbert said. "I think we worried about Galil too much, and we lost track of ourselves. This series is not about home-court advantage. Home-court means nothing." Brian Roberts was Galil's only player in double-figures, scoring 15 points. In Ra'anana, Haifa got off to a quick start, opening a five-point margin (10-5) after four minutes. However, the hosts would finish the first period stronger, with Meir Tapiro's basket giving the team a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes. Haifa still trailed by just four points at the break (36-32), and Bnei Hasharon had the slightest of edges (54-53) going into the final 10 minutes of the encounter. Haifa began the fourth period with an 8-2 run to open a five-point advantage, but Ori Itzhaki came up with two clutch three-pointers when his team needed them most and the hosts regained the lead. Haifa went in front once more in the final minute (71-69) and after Erez Katz missed from the line the visitors clinched the win. Davon Jefferson led Haifa with 21 points and 11 rebounds, with Perkins adding 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Ira Newble led Bnei Hasharon with 20 points and eight rebounds. In Nahariya, a Ron Lewis three opened a 17-11 lead, but the score was tied at 23-23 at the end of the first period. Jerusalem ran riot in the second quarter, racing to a 16-point margin (45-29) after Omar Sneed capped a 22-6 run. Hapoel took a 54-40 lead into the break, but a 14-0 Nahariya run midway through the third period tied the score at 57-57. Jerusalem would answer back immediately, however, ending the quarter with an 11-0 run, with Timmy Bowers's basket giving the team a 71-60 lead with 10 minutes to play. Nahariya couldn't muster a serious comeback attempt in the final period and Hapoel cruised to within one victory of the Final Four. Sneed scored 28 points and took nine rebounds for Jerusalem, with Sharon Sasson and Bowers adding 19 and 15 points respectively. Also Sunday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Ironi Ramat Gan opened a 2-0 lead in the relegation playoffs to move to within one win of another season in the BSL. Rishon defeated Givat Shmuel 81-67 at home behind Larry Obannon's 20 points. Ramat Gan thrashed Ironi Kiryat Ata 96-79 on the road, with Adrian Henning and Carmelo Lee each scoring 19 for the winners.