Local Hoops: Nahariya stuns Haifa, Tel Aviv keeps winning

Yogev Ohayon scores 20 points as Jino's side overcomes financial stress to win Northern battle.

maccabi tel aviv 248.88 (photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
maccabi tel aviv 248.88
(photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
Despite having to part with its two best players in the last two weeks, Ironi Nahariya thrashed Maccabi Haifa 75-57 on the road on Sunday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv continued to dominate in 2009, improving its record in the BSL to 9-0 this year with a 97-86 home win over Ironi Ashkelon. Financial difficulties forced Nahariya (8-9) to release both Aaron McGhee and Raviv Limonad to Maccabi Tel Aviv, but coach Ya'acov Jino has managed to stabilize the team and it is once more looking likely Nahariya will qualify for the playoffs. Haifa (10-7), on the other hand, has played extremely poorly in recent league encounters, losing three straight games, including its last two by a combined 40 points. "I'm really embarrassed with our first half performance. We haven't been functioning for some time now," Haifa coach Avi Ashkenazi said. Yogev Ohayon was superb for Nahariya, scoring 20 points, taking eight rebounds and stealing the ball four times. Former Maccabi Tel Aviv player Jason Williams added 18 points, six assists and six rebounds, with Robert Rothbart scoring 17 points. Davon Jefferson was Haifa's only player in double-figures, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Also Sunday, Hapoel Galil/Gilboa (9-8) won for just the second time in six games, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion (5-12) 101-87 in what was the 100th game of Galil's Oded Katash's coaching career. Brian Randle and Brian Roberts scored 23 and 19 points respectively for Galil, with Demarco Johnson leading Rishon with 25 points. Meir Tapiro led Bnei Hasharon (10-7) to a 96-75 victory over Maccabi Givat Shmuel (7-10) on Sunday, scoring 24 points and passing seven assists. Cookie Belcher added 14 points for Bnei Hasharon, with Jermaine Hall scoring 19 points for Givat Shmuel in what was the team's third straight loss. Ironi Ramat Gan (7-10) claimed its fourth win in five games, defeating Ironi Kiryat Ata (3-14) 87-77. Carmelo Lee led Ramat Gan scoring 22 points, with Yariv Yatzkan adding 20 points. Aaron Nixon scored 23 points for Kiryat Ata, which remains in last position. In Haifa, Nahariya scored the first points of the night and led throughout the entire encounter. The visitors limited Maccabi to just five points in the first 10 minutes and were ahead 13-5 after the first period. Haifa improved its offense slightly in the second quarter, scoring 15 points, but was helpless on defense, allowing some 31 points and entered the break trailing by the embarrassing score-line of 44-20. Nahariya scored just 15 points in the third quarter but still led 59-39 with 10 minutes to play and cruised to a second straight victory. At the Nokia Arena, Maccabi Tel Aviv finished with six players in double figures and 59 percent shooting to defeat Ashkelon. Limonad, who scored 11 points on his Maccabi debut, said: "I'm really excited for the first game to play the way I play. I didn't think I would do something like that in the first game and I hope that I can continue [that success]." Maccabi (15-2) dominated almost the entire game. Its biggest lead was 22 points in the third quarter thanks to an up-tempo offense led by Carlos Arroyo. The point guard (16 points, 10 assists) finished with a double-double to lead Tel Aviv in its ninth straight win in BSL play. Between Arroyo's play-making and Tel Aviv's hot shooting, Ashkelon (5-12) was taken out of the game almost from the beginning. Charles Gaines (18 points) scored a team-high and finished with 6-for-8 shooting while Ashkelon's Tre Kelly finished with 22. Maccabi started off on an 11-0 run in the first quarter sparked by an alley-oop from shooting guard Marcus Brown to power forward Lior Eliyahu. Ashkelon attempted to claw its way back, but Tel Aviv's 60 percent shooting in the first half was too much to handle. Brown scored 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter. Brown got the offense going with a three-pointer in the second half to extend Maccabi's lead to 14. Tel Aviv piled on with 27 points in the third quarter. The visitors, however, would not go away quietly. The team from the South responded with 27 points of its own in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 55 percent shooting. However, the effort failed to overcome Maccabi's balanced attack.