Mac Ashdod claims title behind Kolodny

Five of role player’s 17 points come at the end of overtime to seal championship.

PLENETTE PIERSON (15) and Maccabi Ashdod battle_370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
PLENETTE PIERSON (15) and Maccabi Ashdod battle_370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Ashdod clinched an historic championship in thrilling fashion on Thursday night, beating Elizur Ramle 70-66 in overtime in the fifth and decisive game of the women’s playoff finals.
Ramle, last season’s champion, took a 2-1 lead in the series with a win in Ashdod last week, but failed to clinch the title at home in Game 4 and Ashdod completed its comeback with a dramatic overtime victory on Thursday, adding a first-ever championship to the State Cup it won earlier this year.
“We deserved this,” said Ashdod coach Edni Dagan.
“My players showed amazing character and won an unbelievable game.
“Ramle deserves a lot of credit for fighting until the end, but we deserved this win.”
Naomi Kolodny, who had averaged just 5.6 points per game in the regular season, came up with a massive clutch contribution, leading Ashdod with 17 points, including her team’s last five from the free-throw line.
Ashley Shields added 16 points for Ashdod, with Tanisha Wright scoring 22 for Ramle, which ended the season empty handed after winning the championship, State Cup and Eurocup last season.
The pressure took its toll on both teams at the start of the game, but Ashdod would record the first run of the night, opening a 14-7 lead through a Plenette Pierson basket that capped a 10-1 surge.
Kolodny’s desperation threepointer at the buzzer extended Ashdod’s gap to eight points (17-9) after 10 minutes and Shields’s basket took the gap to double-digits (21-11) at the start of the second period.
However, Game 5 would epitomize the entire series, going back and forth until the very end.
Ramle ate away at the margin as the second quarter drew to a close and Michal Epstein’s shot tied the score at 27-27.
There was still nothing to separate the teams at the break (33- 33), but Ashdod had the edge (46-43) with 10 minutes to play.
However, Ramle began the final frame with a 10-2 run, with points from Wright being followed by Alana Beard’s basket to give the visitors a fivepoint cushion (53-48).
As expected, however, there would be plenty more momentum swings in the game, with Kolodny scoring two more important points to tie the score at 55-55 with 3:05 to play.
An acrobatic effort by Wright with 49 seconds left put the defending champion back in front (58-57), but Ramle would waste a golden opportunity to wrap up the win with 15 seconds to go.
Laine Selwyn’s inbound pass was picked off by Tamera Young, who could only hit one of two free throws to tie the game after an unsportsmanlike foul by Ramle.
Ashdod had an opportunity to clinch the win in regulation, but Shields would miss at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.
Pierson’s basket with 33.8s to play in the extra period put Ashdod in the driving seat (65- 62), but Wright scored moments later to make it a one-point game yet again.
The championship would eventually come down to free throw accuracy and Kolodny would step up to win the game for Ashdod.
Her first shot from the line with 8.7s remaining made it 68-66 and Kolodny snapped up the rebound from her second missed free throw before being fouled once more and scoring twice from the charity stripe to clinch the historic title.