Hankins and Yaacov spark Jerusalem comeback over Haifa to set State Cup final date with Maccabi

Feb 13, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Jerusalem used a fourth quarter comeback to knock off Hapoel Haifa 77-73 and move into the Israel State Cup final where they will take on Maccabi Tel Aviv in a one game winner take all for the coveted title.

Hapoel Haifa controlled the game from the get go as Anthony Hickey and new recruit Justin Tillman proved to be unstoppable early on but Speedy Smith and Zach Hankins scored for Hapoel Jerusalem to head into halftime down by just a point, 41-40.

Noam Yaacov – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Amit Simhon and Will Rayman got busy in the third quarter and helped Sharon Drucker’s team to a 61-53 lead after thirty minutes but Hankins, Levi Randolph and Noam Yaacov with six critical free throws down the stretch completed the comeback and sent Aleksandar Dzikic’s into the final.

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Hankins led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds, Randolph added 14 points, Smith scored 13 points and Yaacov chipped in with 11 points in the win. Hickey scored 22 points, Simhon put in 16 points and Tillman added 12 points in his Haifa debut.

Aleksandar Dzikic – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Congrats to Haifa and I believe they played well,” Jerusalem coach Aleksandar Dzikic said as he credited his tough opponent. “Their results lately don’t count in this type of game as this was one for their season. If they would have beaten us, I couldn’t say they didn’t deserve it. We let them score 26 points to start the game and they opened the game perfectly. I didn’t like our intensity and focus.”

Sharon Drucker – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I have still have to digest the game,” Haifa coach Sharon Drucker began. “We played hard from the beginning to the end and we controlled the game both offensively and defensively. But we lost some players to fouls trouble and Kadeem Allen took a hit. The guys left it all on the court.”

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The game MVP Zach Hankins reflected on the win, “We came out lackluster and that has to stop. Our bread and butter is our defense and we have to get better at that. We have to be better, it’s awesome that we won and we know what we can be happy about that.”

Anthony Hickey – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Haifa point guard Anthony Hickey spoke about the game, “Give Jerusalem credit they came out and played their butts off. We didn’t get rebounds on the last few possessions and we lost our big men to fouls.”

Anthony Hickey – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Justin Tillman and Anthony Hickey scored for Hapoel Haifa while Speedy Smith went from the outside and inside for Hapoel Jerusalem as the Carmel Reds held a 12-9 lead midway through the first quarter. Levi Randolph scored a trio of baskets, Hickey came back with points, Smith responded, Hickey dropped an off balance bucket, Amit Simhon went from downtown and Noam Yaacov dropped a 3-point play but Sharon Drucker’s team stayed in front 26-20 after ten minutes of play.

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Kadeem Allen opened the second quarter with points, Zach Hankins put in a floater and a dunk, Tillman came back with points, Will Rayman dunked off a steal as Haifa kept the lead 32-27 with 5:33 left in the first half. Tillman scored, Hankins answered at the other end for Aleksandar Dzikic’s team, Rayman and Randolph traded buckets as Hickey and Or Cornelius did the same from beyond the arc as Haifa kept a razor thin 41-40 advantage at halftime.

Amit Simhon – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Tillman and Simhon got busy to begin the third quarter, Randolph went in for a 3-point play, Smith hit a 3-pointer and Hankins scored to give Jerusalem their first lead 48-47 midway through the period. Allen went from deep, Simhon did as well, Rayman drilled home a triple and one and added another one from deep to give Haifa a 61-53 lead after thirty minutes of action.

Noam Yaacov – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Simhon drained a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to get the fourth quarter underway, Khadeen Carrington and Itay Segev scored but Hickey put in a pair of layups to keep Haifa ahead 68-59 with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Hankins scored two buckets, Randolph hit a jumper, Hickey dropped in a 3-point play, Hankins did the same, Yaacov scored half a dozen crucial free throws to put Jerusalem in front as Segev grabbed a loose ball and dunked to send the capital city reds into the title match.

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