Hapoel Jerusalem continued to win as they defeated feisty Kiryat Ata 77-70 to chalk up their 6th Israeli league victory in a row and 8th overall across all competitions. Levi Randolph was key from the outset for the Reds as he took upon point guard duties for a vast majority of the game as five players scored in double digits to help the capital city squad to the win.
Aleksandar Dzikic’s team came into the matchup without Speedy Smith due to illness and Noam Dovrat who is out for the season after injuring his knee against Bakken Bears earlier in the week. However, the Reds did get see Oz Blayzer return to the floor after a shoulder injury kept him out for a month along with Brandon Brown who made his debut.
Randolph, Blayzer and Siim Sander-Vene got things rolling for the hosts as they raced out to an 18-point lead, but Sharon Avrahami’s side brought back with points by Diante Garrett and Juvonte Reddic to pull to within 45-35 by halftime. Chavaughn Lewis started to hit his shots from deep while Karam Mashour scored as well to give Kiryat Ata a slim 53-51 lead near the end of the third quarter, however, Khadeen Carrington, Zach Hankins and Randolph helped Jerusalem retake the lead and take the victory.
Randolph led the way with 16 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals in an well rounded game, Hankins checked in with a double-double 12 points and 10 boards, Blayzer scored 11 points while Carrington and Or Cornelius each had 10 points in the win. Garrett and Lewis each scored 19 points for Kiryat Ata and Juvonte Reddic added 15 points in the loss.
“We played without both point guards which was not fun,” Dzikic began after the win. “We had some tough periods in the third quarter and I told the guys that Kiryat Ata would come back and they did. But I’m proud as they have overcome a lot of problems as Kiryat Ata played smart and hard and they tried to get to some of our weak spots.”
“We’re disappointed that we lost as we could have won this game,” Sharon Avrahami said. “We came back from 18 points down and we were there but we lost the game when they stopped us a number of times when teh score was about even. All in all, I think we can be content with the second half and we will continue on.”
The game MVP Levi Randolph reflected on his performance and the victory, “I feel good. We have a lot of good players and everybody stepped up and we played the way coach asked us to play and we are able to come out with the win.”
Juvonte Reddic and Karam Mashour scored for Kiryat Ata while Or Cornelius and Siim Sander-Vene each hit corner 3-pointers for Hapoel Jerusalem as Levi Randolph also scored to give the Reds a 11-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Vene went from downtown, Diante Garrett fed Reddic for an alley-oop and then went deep but Oz Blayzer scored his first bucket on his return to the court after being out a month, Itay Segev cleaned up a miss, Randolph scored off a gorgeous team play and then nailed a jumper at the buzzer to give the hosts a 24-16 lead after ten minutes of play.
Blayzer stroked a triple from the corner to begin the second quarter, Garrett and Chavaughn Lewis each scored for Sharon Avrahami’s squad but Blayzer scored inside to keep Aleksandar Dzikic’s team ahead 33-20 with 5:07 left in the period. Randolph dialled up long distance, Reddic and Lewis responded, Carrington went from downtown as did Lewis and Garrett nailed a pair to pull to within 45-35 at halftime.
Lewis opened the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers, Mashour scored as well from inside, Randolph scored to halt the 8-0 run, but Amin Stevens scored as well to cut the lead to 47-46 midway through the frame. Garrett went from deep, Segev dunked, so did Stevens at the other end of the court but Jerusalem held onto the lead 53-51 after thirty minutes of action.
The fourth quarter saw Lewis get going with a deuce, Brandon Brown followed that up with his first bucket for the Reds with a triple, Carrington scored inside as did Reddic and Hankins at the other end as the Reds stayed in front 62-59 with 6 minutes remaining in regulation time. Blayzer hit an off balance runner, Mashour answered, Randolph nailed a one hander, Cornelius went from way downtown as did Garrett and Reddic scored a pair inside but Hankins out down a huge dunk to wrap up yet another win for Jerusalem.