Hapoel Jerusalem captures Israel State Cup; huge 3rd quarter comeback leads Reds to back-to-back titles

Hapoel Jerusalem captured the Israel State Cup for the second straight year thanks to a huge third quarter comeback to down Maccabi Tel Aviv 85-72. With the win, the Reds took home their 8th Cup title and for the fourth time it came in back-to-back years while Speedy Smith was named the MVP for the second year in a row.

Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Yonatan Alon’s team came out of the box strong with JaCorey Williams and Levi Randolph leading the way but Oded Katash’s squad quickly took control of the contest as Roman Sorkin, Bonzie Colson and Jasiel Rivero helped the yellow-and-blue to a 46-37 halftime advantage.

Yovel Zoosman and Nimrod Levi – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

However, Jerusalem came storming out of the gate in the third quarter as Yovel Zoosman, Nimrod Levi and Williams began the second half with an 11-0 run to take the lead as Speedy Smith helped the reds head into the final frame with a 68-56 lead. Maccabi tried to make a run but Carrington and Randolph couldn’t miss as they closed out the victory.

JaCorey Williams – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Williams scored 21 points, Randolph added 17 points, Carrington chipped in with 16 points while Smith scored 12 points and dished out 15 assists in the win. Sorkin scored 21 points and Colson added 10 points in the loss.

Yonatan Alon – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“It was a story of two totally different halves,” Hapoel Jerusalem Head Coach Yonatan Alon said. “In the first half we had to chase after Maccabi but in the second half we won the game by playing defense and by our character. In this crazy year with so many things that occurred we all had to pitch in for the club. While perhaps me coming down from the front office to become the coach may not be the best thing to do, it’s great to be with the guys day in and day out. I like everyone of these guys and it’s just great to be with them.”

Oded Kattash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I want to congratulate Hapoel Jerusalem they deserved the win,” Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Oded Katash said. “They were more aggressive and they deserve the credit. We knew that we were coming in not ideal shape both mentally and physically and we were missing a guard plus John Dibartolomeo was injured during the game as well. While we were leading in the first half, they had plenty of offensive rebounds and we turned over the ball too many times. They came out of halftime with the a lot of energy and we couldn’t match them.”

Speedy Smith – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The State Cup MVP Speedy Smith reflected on the win, “It was our defense that helped us to the win. Coach Alon gave us our identity as to what we had to do in the third quarter and it was special as to what we did as a team. Nimrod Levi had one of his best games, JaCorey Williams did what he did on both sides of the court, Levi Randolph did what a captain dies with big baskets to close out the game and Yovel Zoosman was terrific on defense. Credit also to all the guys on the bench who gave us a ton of energy throughout the game.”

Antonius Cleveland – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Antonius Cleveland spoke about the game from his point of view, “We got away from what we wanted to do in the third quarter and we didn’t match their intensity and let them get a big lead going into the fourth quarter. We came out flat and they punched us in the mouth.”

JaCorey Williams – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

After a number of missed open shots by Hapoel Jerusalem to start the game off, JaCorey Williams scored a pair in the paint for the Reds, Levi Randolph scored on the inside and Nimrod Levi found points on the outside, but a Bonzie Colson 3-point play got Maccabi Tel Aviv back into the game but were down 10-5 midway through the first quarter.

Bonzie Colson – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Colson and Lorenzo Brown both put in a layups, Tamir Blatt dialled up long distance, Josh Nebo put in a floater, Khadeen Carrjngton stole the ball and dunked, Jasiel Rivero cleaned up the boards, Roman Sorkin added points inside as the yellow-and-blue grabbed a 23-16 lead after ten minutes of play.

Roman Sorkin – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Sorkin scored to begin the second quarter, Williams countered, Rivero put in a pair of buckets down low, Colson scored inside, Randolph responded but a Sorkin triple gave Maccabi a 35-25 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half. Williams put down an alley-oop from Speedy Smith who then went twice from deep, Antonius Cleveland dropped a corner 3-ball and dunked, Rivero hit a jumper to keep Oded Katash’s team ahead 46-37 at halftime.

Yovel Zoosman – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Williams opened the third quarter with a mini-hook shot, Yovel Zoosman scored off a missed free throw, Levi hit a jumper, Williams scored a pair of buckets to give Yonatan Alon’s squad an 11-0 run and take a 48-46 lead.

Yovel Zoosman – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Zoosman scored a pair inside, Brown went from deep, Levi matched him at the other end, Zoosman went from downtown, Carrington hit an off balance jumper, Randolph dialled up long distance, Blatt scored from the inside and outside and Smith went from beyond the arc to jump out to a 68-56 lead after thirty minutes of action.

Khadeen Carrington – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Nebo scored to get the fourth quarter underway, Williams did the same at the other end, John Dibartolomeo and Randolph traded baskets, Rivero came back with points, Carrington tear dropped a 3-pointer, Colson went from deep as Jerusalem stayed in front 77-65 with just under four minutes remaining in regulation time. Sorkin and Cleveland scored inside, Carrington scored while Randolph found points a plenty to take the Cup final win.

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