Despite Everything, Ramla
Orli Klinger ,03/19/2009
10 different foreigners passed through Ramla this season, the ones who are still here create a weird mix that we're not used to seeing, but the whole thing has come together for four straight playoff wins. Ramla dictated its style on Ramat Hen to get a 65 – 61 win that lifted them into 3rd place which sets up a semi final series against Ramat Hen.

Elizur Ramla 65 – Maccabi Ramat Hen 61
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Like the two previous ones, the 3rd meeting between the teams also went down to the wire before Ramla, who wanted it more and outplayed Ramat Hen, got a justified victory to move up to 3rd and avoid meeting Ramat Hasharon in the semis. Ramla played very good defense, enjoyed four players in double figures, didn’t trail from the 15th minute on, didn't have a single 2nd half turnover and only a 0 for 16 night from three kept this thing close. Ramat Hen on the other end had two turnovers in its last two possessions. Following a timeout with 8.8 on the clock down 61 – 65 after Tamara Moore made two free throws, all Ramat Hen could muster is an inbounds pass to Epstein who couldn't get rid of it and turned it over. Story of the game.

"We need a sponsor for a carpenter shop", Eli Rabi declared after his team had another horrifying three point shooting night, but he sure looked pleased with the result. "We don't turn it over. We beat three strong teams in 10 days. We're playing very well on defense and I'm very proud of the team. It'll be an open and interesting series against Ramat Hen, this championship will be decided on a hair".

On the other end Ramat Hen may being to worry about the series, because they're not going to win it if their offense keeps looking like it has been the last few games. Tonight we didn’t see a single pass between the posts, Shay Doron on an excellent shooting day scored a 3rd of their points, only the starters got on the scoreboard and one of them had just two points. "Our defense needs to lead to more offense, that's what we're missing right now and we need to address that. I'm not going to shoot like that every game. We need 10-20 more fast break points, we're a team with players who like to run and we have the ability to run", said Doron. "We needed to play somebody in the semis and now we know who it is. Both teams are very different and it'll be interesting. I think this series won't go to just three or four games". Today, even though the spread is misleading, Ramla's style definitely prevailed.

Ramla got off to a good start on defense and went up 10 – 3 in four minutes. Ramat Hen seemed stuck and couldn't get the ball inside, but Shay Doron with two threes and 10 points in the quarter kept them in the game, 12 – 12. Sheri Sam in a wonderful 1st quarter also scored 10 and gave Ramla the lead back. The game stayed close but Ramla still had something to show for being the better team as Sam beat the buzzer for a 19 – 17 lead.

Ramat Hen opened the 2nd quarter with two passes inside to LaToya Pringle for their first field goals by a post, 21 – 19. Ramla switched to their tallest lineup with Katia Levistky and the foreigners and Ramat Hen accordingly switched to a zone. Ramla stuttered against the zone especially after Sam went to the bench, but Ramat Hen couldn't translate stops to points and even their few fast breaks resulted in a similar amount of points and turnovers. Ramla woke up with an 8 – 0 run and began moving the ball better. Ortal Oren with a steal and basket made it 31 – 25, two minutes till halftime. After a timeout Doron stopped the run with a fast break bucket and the gap ramined, 33 – 29 at the half.

The painful-to-watch pace continued in the 3rd but Ramat Hen who looked really bad in the set game was very pleased to just be down 46 – 48 after three. Gourevitch with a lot of experience, two free throws after Pringle's technical and a fast break layup made it 38 – 31, four minutes in. Ivory Latta got Ramat Hen's only field goal in the first nine minutes of the quarter to cut it down to four. Ramat Hen clawed their way to the free throw line, mainly thanks to Pringle, and somehow stayed in it. Ogorodnikova scored inside to make it 44 – 39 but Doron with two free throws and a tough shot clock beating three helped her team comeback out of nowhere, 46 – 48.

Ramla restored its lead with points from Moore and good minutes from Abiola Wabara, 53 – 46 with seven to play. Ayana Walker hit free throws and found Esprtein for a layup, 50 – 53, before Sam made a big three point play to double the lead. Towards the end of the game Ramat Hen began resembling a basketball team offensively and cut it to just 54 – 56 as Latta hit from the line, timeout Ramla. Wabara made a big put back and stopped Pringle on the other end and Gourevitch made a big basket after a silly Latta turnover, 60 – 56. Doron tried to recreate the win Ramat Hen stole in Ramla in the last meeting and again nailed a huge three, 59 – 60, three minutes to play. Ramat Hen couldn't get the lead and on the other end Ogorodnikova got loose under the basket, 62 – 59. Till the end of the game Ramat Hen created just two more free throws and two turnovers, by Pringle and Epstein, and saw Sam & Moore ice it for Ramla from the line.

For Ramla:
Sheri Sam 16 pts
Ina Gourevitch 15 pts
Lena Ogorodnikova 14 pts
Abiola Wabara 10 pts
Tamara Moore & Katia Levitzky 4 pts each
Ortal Oren 2 pts

For Ramat Hen:
Shay Doron 22 pts
LaToya Pringle 15 pts, 10 rebs
Ivory Latta 15 pts, 8 rebs
Ayana Walker 7 pts
Michal Epstein 2 pts

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