Greens play three strong quarters, but collapse in fourth after 9-0 Nahriya run
Maccabi Hunter Haifa and Ironi Nahariya entered Sunday night’s contest with identical records at 7-8. The Greens were hoping they would be the ones leaving Ein Sara with a .500 record. For the first three-quarters of the game, it appeared as though Haifa had the edge, leading 60-57 at the end of third frame. Unfortunately for the Greens, a 9-0 Nahariya fourth quarter run out of the gate — on eight consecutive points by Nick Faust — changed the momentum of the game as the Greens eventually fell 83-73 to drop back to 7-9 on the season.
Haifa struggled to control the ball as they committed 21 turnovers to only 16 assists. The Greens had no answers containing Nahariya’s import players as Faust played spoiler with 22 points in 27 minutes. Derwin Kitchen notched a double-double on 14 points and 13 rebounds along with 5 assists, and Yancy Gates added 14 points and 7 boards.
The Greens were once again paced by the dynamic Israeli duo of Amit Simhon and Oz Blayzer. Simhon dropped 18 points on 4-for-10 from the field while pulling down 6 rebounds, and Blayzer added 16 points and 7 rebounds. DiBartolomeo posted 13 points and Mitchell chipped in 11 points in the loss.
“I think we played decently for parts of the game, but we didn’t maintain it for a full 40 minutes,” said DiBartolomeo. “We knew Nahariya was a good fourth quarter team, but we couldn’t counter their run. We have to turn our attention to our next game. Home games are always big games, Holon is a great team and it’s a great chance for us to improve. It’s a must win.”
After digging themselves into an early 7-0 hole, DiBartolomeo got the Greens rolling with 7 straight points on a trey and a 4-point play to bring Haifa within one, trailing 9-8. Mitchell threw down an alley-oop and Blayzer followed with a drive to the bucket to put Haifa on top 13-11. A Blayzer 3-pointer and a Graves jumper extended the Green’s lead to 18-13. Nahariya’s Kitchen scored four straight to bring the home team within one point, but Vargas buried a jumper and Simhon splashed in a 3-pointer as Haifa finished the first quarter leading 23-17.
Blayzer was fouled, connecting on one of two from the line, and Graves registered a steal which led to a fastbreak layup by DiBartolomeo to put Haifa up 26-20. Mitchell put his stamp on the game with an alley-oop on a feed from Blayzer to put Haifa up 28-22. Nahariya managed to creep back into the game as Gates tied the score at 32-32 after knocking down a jumper. However, the Greens quickly countered with a 7-0
run as Simhon buried a 3-pointer from the corner and followed up with an offensive board and putback. Blayzer made a highlight reel drive, finishing with the flush to put Haifa up 39-32. Kevinn Pinkney scored his first point in a Green uniform, coming off the bench, after knocking down one of two from the line. Nahariya’s Skjoldebrand scored with a hard drive to the bucket to tighten the score at 40-36 in favor the Greens. Blayzer had the last say of the first half with a 3-pointer at the top of the key with 4.5 seconds left to give Haifa a 44-38 lead going into the break.
Kitchen opened the third quarter with two three-pointers, but Simhon and Mitchell continued to score as they kept Haifa up 51-45. However, Nahariya mounted a comeback as Skjoldebrand tied the game at 53 with three and a half minutes left in the quarter, and Faust reclaimed a lead for Nahariya with a jumper. Simhon immediately silenced the crowd with a 3-pointer on the next possession to put Haifa back up by one, and DiBartolomeo added two from the line to give Haifa a 60-57 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
In the final frame, Faust took over the game with 8 straight points to put Nahariya up 68-62 by draining a 3-pointer, making a steal and finishing with a layup, and drawing a foul on a three-point attempt in which he connected on all three from the line. Blayzer ended the Haifa drought with a jumper, and Simhon notched his 18th point of the game by converting on a three-point play with a steal and a layup to bring Haifa within two points, trailing 69-67 with 6:03 remaining in regulation. Nahariya’s Asante helped them rip off a 6-0 run which put the home team up 75-67. Graves nailed a long-range 3-pointer but it wasn’t enough as the Greens dropped their ninth game of the season with an 83-73 defeat.