The Israel Netball League season ended with tenacious play in both the title and third-place games last Thursday, with Ma'aleh Adumim emerging as the national champion over Ra'anana, and Shu Sha Tel Aviv surviving Jerusalem for the bronze medal.
Having beaten Ra'anana both times in the regular season, Ma'aleh Adumim was the clear favorite to take the gold medal from the two-time defending champion. Somewhat unexpectedly though, Ra'anana outplayed Ma'aleh Adumim early on, taking an 11-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Ra'anana still held an 18-17 edge at the end of the half, but Ma'aleh Adumim took over control of the second half, rolling to a 33-25 triumph to claim top honors.
The bronze medal game went into a rare overtime session before Shu Sha Tel Aviv pulled out a 37-36 win over Jerusalem Mercaz. The evenly-matched teams both showed their mettle in the contest.
Tel Aviv took a 9-6 lead in the first quarter, which it expanded to 20 by halftime. However, Jerusalem fought back to within a goal by the end of the third quarter, at 26-25. The final quarter ended 34-34 - only the second draw in three league seasons.
The tension was palpable for every second of the five minutes of extra time, and the bronze medal could easily have gone to either team. But the final whistle brought shouts of delight from the victorious Shu Sha Tel Aviv team.
At the medals ceremony, the league named Chani Komar MVP and Nomi Komar Most Improved Player. Brenda Benaim was given the sportsmanship award.
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