For the first time since 1993 when the playoffs went to a best-of-five series, both women's Premier League semifinals will be decided by fifth games, on Thursday. Last night, Elitzur Ramle defeated Ramat Hasharon 87-74 and forced a decisive game in Ramat Hasharon, and Bnot Hasharon beat Ramat Chen 75-64 to restore their home-court advantage.
Ramle last night recorded one of its biggest victories of the season, coming back from an 11-point deficit in the beginning of the second quarter while fighting through a serious problem with fouls that piled up as referees Yaron Zarif and Omer Esteron called a very tight game.
Laine Selwyn and Ina Gourevitch each picked up three fouls in the first 12 minutes of the game, but from that point on, Ramle coach Eli Rabi pulled a rabbit off the bench.
Brasheedah Elohim, the 27-year-old naturalized citizen who joined the club this season, had not impressed until now. She had averaged eight minutes and two points on a poor shooting percentage. Yesterday, she recorded a season-high 11 points and five rebounds, and also helped out with great defense on Jia Perkins (5-of-15 from the field).
"The game can be summed up in two words: Brasheeda Elohim," said Rabi. "She sat on the bench the whole season, but today, when we didn't have any energy and we were in serious foul trouble, she came in and had a huge game."
Ramle was behind the entire first half, but somehow managed to go into the break even at 40-all.
At the break, said Rabi, "Jackie Johnson screamed at the girls to fight. She sacrificed her career in order to come back and play, and she demanded that the girls keep our dignity."
The second half was all Ramle, primarily Johnson, who returned to her pre-injury form.
"There were a lot of X factors in this game," said Ramat Hasharon assistant coach Rafi Bogatin. "Ramle fought and wanted it more, and deserves the credit."
For Ramle, Shay Doron scored 23 points, Johnson 18, Sherill Baker 14 and Michelle Snow had 10 points.
Bnot Hasharon became the first team in the history of the women's playoffs to come back from a 2-0 deficit to even a series. Bnot Hasharon again easily defeated Ramat Chen, this time a 75-64 away victory. Armintie Price, who was injured in the second game, again struggled for most of the game, but came alive in the last minutes.
"If she plays like [she did late in the game] in the final game, we will beat Herzilya," promised Ramat Chen coach Adan Inbar.
Mistie Williams scored 28 for Bnot Hasharon and Tanisha Wright had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
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