Sunday, November 30, 2008
The Maccabi Haifa Heat looked at the beginning of this season to be a potential surprise. Winning its first three games had people talking of a new Hapoel Holon. However, two straight losses put its season in doubt. Yesterday, Haifa responded by disposing of Ironi Nahariya 71-61.
At the same time, yesterday's third home loss indicated that Nahariya is not the competitive team it was a year ago. And when the season wraps up, analysts may look at the second half of this game as the decisive 20 minutes that determined the fate of these two teams.
Both teams displayed solid defense at the opening, and Nahariya looked to take control of the game. Raviv Limonad was the quiet floor general, while Ron Lewis completed a number of fast breaks with a resounding dunk. Only 12 first-half points by Brooks Sales kept Haifa within single-digits of the host team, trailing 40-31.
Haifa then came out of the locker room and owned the second half, while Nahariya was nowhere to be found. The Heat took control under the boards and denied Nahariya opportunities for second-chance points. Down 42-35, Haifa went on an 11-point run, and though it remained close until early in the fourth quarter, its dominance was no longer in doubt.
Moshe Mizrahi led Haifa with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including three trifectas.