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Back in the picture: Herzliya tops Jerusalem 86-78 in OT

“Every win is important to us and this is our second one in Jerusalem,” Bnei Herzliya star Shawn Dawson said as he skipped out of a quiet Pais Arena in Jerusalem on his way to the team bus for the hour ride back to Herzliya with a 86-78 overtime win. The last time Arik Shivek’s team visited Hapoel Jerusalem was back in early March when they took home a 78-66 win which was the first of three victories in a row. This time they did the trick yet again, thanks to fine play from Dawson with 19 points (8/9 for 2), 8 rebounds and 5 assists in a whopping 44:20 of play.

“The key to the game was our defense and we also shared the ball pretty well. However, we had some bad times in the 2nd and 3rd quarters but we stayed with good energy and got the win after overtime,” Dawson, the last man out of the winning lockerroom said. Another key component to the win was Jeff Adrien dominating the paint with 31 points and 10 rebounds. “Our defensive rebounds were key,” the soft spoken Adrien commented. “We had them play our speed,” the UConn product said as they picked up the win in their first third round game.

With Hapoel owner Ori Allon on hand to watch his Jerusalem coach Oded Katash live in action, he saw the National Team boss go with an American trio of guards in Jerome Dyson (13p), Tarrence Kinsey (8p) and Kalin Lucas (2p) to begin the game with Rich Howell (19p) at the 4 and seldom used Ran Elias-por at the center position which led to a tough first quarter of play with very little offense being created. Jeff Adrien led all scorers with 8 points in the frame seemingly taking advantage of the soft Jerusalem defense and helping Elias-por pick up 3 fouls in less than 5 minutes plus an injury early on as Herzliya took a 16-12 lead after ten minutes of action. “The injury to Ram was costly as we didn’t have any big men down the stretch of the game due to foul trouble,” Katash said following the game.

The visitor’s went on a 7-0 run thanks to Shawn Dawson and Dominique Archie to take a 23-14 lead to begin the 2nd frame which prompted Katash to take a time out to quell the storm. However, it would be Jerusalem who would have the last laugh after twenty minutes going on a 14-2 run with 2:39 left in the half thanks to Howell, Dyson and Yotam Halperin to take a 37-35 lead.

Howell’s 9 third quarter points helped Jerusalem to a 62-55 advantage after thirty minutes, but the big man picked up his 4th foul while Ronald Roberts was also issued his 4th leaving Katash with a quandary heading into the final frame. Going 3/10 from the charity stripe (16/31) in the frame also didn’t do any favors for the host’s as Hapoel’s poor free throw shooting which has plagued them all season again was their achilles heal.

Herzliya jumped out to a 9-0 run to start the 4th but back and forth play put the game at 68-65 for the host’s with 4:25 left; and that’s when the fun began. Howell was called for a technical, handing him his 5th foul and an ejection from the game after throwing the ball down in frustration after not getting a call when Sam Singer was all over him under the bucket. Taureen Green (15p) drained his 3rd 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the contest to give the visitor’s a 71-70 lead but with Startos Perperologou on the line with 18 seconds left, the Greek hit 1/2 to tie up the game at 71-71. Herzliya had a chance to take home the win on the last possession, but Arik Shivek’s squad couldn’t get a shot off as time ran out sending the game to overtime.

Dawson and Adrien teamed up for a quick 6 points to start the extra period but back to back 3’s by Perperologou ties the game up yet again at 77-77. However, Dyson missed a pair of free throws (1/6 from the line) as Green and Adrien took over to help Herzliya to a 9-1 run and the hard fought victory. In a game of runs, Katash was not happy with the performance his team gave on this night, “I wasn’t happy with how we played; we didn’t keep our composure.”

Ori Allon walked out of the arena with a smirk on his face, perhaps knowing that his team will make the playoffs and anything can happen once they begin, plus a date with Holon a team who they beat a couple of weeks ago looms around the corner as the Reds host them next. Herzliya on the other hand gets to play Maccabi Ashdod again on Thursday after falling to Brad Greenberg’s team at home just a week ago. “It’s cool to be back in the playoff picture and I’m looking forward to playing Ashdod,” Adrien said as a good night for Herzliya came to an end.