Hapoel Jerusalem notches win over Kiryat Ata ahead of Tenerife test

Mar 2, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Jerusalem got by Kiryat Ata 97-83 to put a poor February behind them and begin the month of March with a win as they now ready for a Basketball Champions League Round of 16 Group Stage clash at Tenerife on Wednesday. Speedy Smith orchestrated the offense as Or Cornelius and Brynton Lemar shot lights out to get the game started to allow Jerusalem to quickly build up a 38-22 lead after the first quarter. James Batemon and Raz Adam tried to keep the visitors close and cut the lead down to just a point with a 13-0 run in the third quarter but Khadeen Carrington made sure to keep the Reds in front the rest of the way to notch the win.

Speedy Smith – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Smith scored 16 points and dished out 11 assists, Carrington added 16 points, Cornelius scored 15 points and Lemar chipped in with 14 points in the win. Batemon scored 23 points, Adam added 16 points and Akia Pruitt scored 12 points in the loss.

Oz Blayzer and Ilias Kantzouris – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


“It was a game that we really needed to bounce back after the last results,” Coach Kantzouris said. “More or less we did the job, but we did have some naive moments defensively to allow Kiryat Ata to come back into the game. We were up by double digits but then in a few possessions they came back. I am happy as to how the players performed including Zach Hankins and Oz Blayzer. Now we move onto our next game at Tenerife but we have a very busy and important month of March and if the guys keep working hard we will have a good month.”

Sharon Avrahami – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


“We knew they would go aggressive after two losses and we came out slow,” Kiryat Ata coach Sharon Avrahami said. “We were able to come back but we showed a lot of character and had a 13-0 run to bring it to just one point. We were there but they scored some big baskets. I’m proud of the guys and that I can give Israelis so many minutes. We are still looking to guarantee that we will play in the top league next season and once we do that then we can go after our other goals.”

Speedy Smith – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


The game’s MVP Speedy Smith spoke about the keys to the victory, “It was a really good to bounce back and guys played well. We followed the game plan that coach set up and I wasn’t shocked as to how we were able to come out strong. “We play together everyday and we ran the transition offense, we made shots and played some defense. It was good to see guys make shots including Or Cornelius and Oz Blayzer.”

James Batemon – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


James Batemon spoke about the game from his point of view, “We started off slow and they came out hitting every shot. When you give up 38 points in the first quarter you might as well pack up and go home. We were too soft to start the game but if you give up that amount of points in the first quarter it’s very hard to come back. We had a long break between games and we have been doing a lot of practicing and Jerusalem were playing and had rhythm on offense.”

Brynton Lemar – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


James Batemon with a trio of triples and Raz Adam with points for Kiryat Ata got the game underway while Bryton Lemar, Or Cornelius and Oz Blayzer had the hot hands for Hapoel Jerusalem as the Reds grabbed a 20-16 lead midway through the first quarter. Cornelius keep scoring at will with three straight baskets for the hosts, Ben Saraf responded, Yovel Zoosman went from deep and then added a deuce inside, Nimrod Levi dialled up from long distance while Zach Hankins scored a layup to give Jerusalem a 38-22 lead after ten minutes of play.

Khadeen Carrington – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Khadeen Carrington got busy with a pair of baskets to start off the second quarter, Amin Stevens responded, Isaiah Mucius went from deep as did Carrington at the other end to keep Ilias Kantzouris’s squad in front 47-35 with five minutes left in the first half. Akia Pruitt, Stevens botans Saraf all scored in the paint, Speedy Smith came back with a pair of layups while Carrington checked in with a 3-point play to send Jerusalem into halftime holding a 55-41 advantage.

Ben Saraf – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Pruitt led off the third quarter with a triple, Stevens scored off the glass, Guy Palatin and Batemon drained 3-pointers, Smith finally broke the 13-0 run from downtown, while JaCorey Williams dunked and Levi put in a deuce to keep the Reds ahead 62-55 midway through the frame. Adam dropped a deuce, Carrington responded with a pair of jumpers, Hankins put down a reverse dunk, Saraf and Batemon came back with layups while Pruitt nailed a 3-pointer but Jerusalem continued to lead 72-66 after thirty minutes of action.

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Batemon hit a jumper, Carrington went in for a layup, Hankins jammed, Stevens came back with a pair, Pruitt added a pair, but Hankins with yet another dunk and Smith drilled home another 3-pointer and added a deuce to wrap up the victory.

Tomer Ginat – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


In other Israeli basketball action, Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Holon 90-78 to exact an ounce of revenge for the last time the two faced one another in a game that the purples won on their home court. The visitors came out strong thanks to Yotam Hanochi and Hans Vanwign’s hot start as Holon grabbed a slim 24-22 lead by the end of the first quarter, however, Tomer Ginat started to score at ease in the second quarter to give the hosts a 48-37 lead at halftime.

Will Cummings, Jaylen Hoard and Bar Timor all got busy in the third period to bump the lead up to 73-55 but Holon’s newcomers Tahjere McCall and Kevin Hervey cut the lead down in the final frame, John Holland and J’Covan Brown closed the game out as Danny Franco’s squad notched the win.

Ginat scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Timor added 18 points and Jaylen Hoard scored 13 points in the win. McCall and Hanochi each scored 15 points and Vanwign chipped in with 14 points in the loss.

“We really defended well for many minutes of the game and we were very intense while doing so,” Reds Head Coach Danny Franco said. “I have to take my hat off to both Tomer Ginat and Jaylen Hoard was we always think about how we should play small ball so credit to them for that. This was an important game for us against a team that came into this game with confidence.”

“We allowed Tel Aviv to run,” Holon bench boss Amit Sherf said. “When you let them do that then you are going to have to run after them and play at their pace. They were very aggressive as they wanted to respond after they lost to us two weeks ago. We came into the game with good body language and played tough in the 4th water which is what we need to do for 40 minutes.”

The game MVP Tomer Ginat looked back at the game, “We gave up 78 points which is better than what we had been doing of late and we had a lot of energy, we ran and we played together in order to win the game. I’m happy that the game was able to come to me but we are a good team as whole and each game someone else can be the main player.”

Hapoel Eilat just clipped Hapoel Galil Elyon 72-69 as Elijah Stewart scored the key baskets down the stretch to help lead the Red Sea squad to the victory. Stewart led the way with 24 points, Sacar Anim added 16 points and Jujuan Johnson scored 15 points in the win while James Feldeine scored 24 points and Lior Carreira chipped in with 16 points in the loss.

“We expected a tight game and the second half defense decided it as we only gave up 26 points,” Eilat head coach Jurica Goldman said. “We spoke at halftime that we were soft and the second half the guys stepped up and we found a way to win the game with energy on defense.”

“We didn’t make the stops near the end that we needed to,” Galil Elyon coach Barak Peleg commented. “We had fouls to give when we were up 5-6 points but we also had some issues with exhaustion due to our short squad without Omar Silverio but so did Eilat.”

Hapoel Afula overwhelmed Hapoel Haifa 91-73 as a half a dozen players scored in double digits to take the easy win. Spencer Weisz scored 16 points and Lucas Goldenberg added 15 points in the win while Juvonte Reddic scored 21 points in a losing effort.

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