By: Marvin Azrak
This week in Yeshivah sports featured more teams returning to action and making their presence felt across multiple sports. We saw the Ramaz Rams embark on their respective campaigns with wins, MDY Warriors basketball bounce back, and a hockey team gain revenge on a defeat two years in the making while handing their rival their first defeat in three years.
VARSITY BASKETBALL TAKEAWAYS
Ask, and you shall receive. Magen David Yeshiva Warriors fans lauded for a response after their varsity basketball team’s collapse against DRS in their season-opener. They were rewarded on Monday, as MDY used two momentum-shifting spurts en route to a 52-29 demolition of the Waterbury Wolfpack at the Warrior Dome. They then followed that up with a 28 point rout of YMA Kings to boast a 2-1 record headed into the third week of November.
The first victory was an astonishing one, and proved that this season would live by the “On any given night” mantra, for Waterbury was coming off an upset win over Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva in the Green House, which was the same team Magen David succumbed to.
Waterbury landed the first blow taking an early 10-5 lead, but a quick adjustment by coach Benny Mann to insert Joey Lati for David Sakkal helped the change the course of the first half, as Allie Dweck and Joseph Cohen took over the scoring late to cap off a 14-2 run that put the Warriors in front for good at 19-12 at halftime. The lead nearly doubled in the third quarter, with MDY outworking the Wolfpack on both ends of the floor with their perimeter play, limiting Waterbury to shots beyond the arc while raining down trey’s themselves.
But in an eye-blink, a 35-22 lead entering the fourth dwindled to 35-27, and it seemed like the wheels would fall off once again for the Warriors. However, a quick timeout from the coaching staff got the boys composed and anxious for challenging Waterbury’s full-court press, which they broke with patient ball movement in the high post by Jeffrey Chabot, buckets by Asher Melamed, who finished with 20 points, and emphatic defense by Dweck and Joseph Cohen who both had 10 points with two steals apiece. Defensively, the Warriors clogged the paint and kept the Wolfpack to the outside with man-man play forcing them to take 26 3’s on the evening uncharacteristically, many of which clanked off the rim. When the dust settled, the crowd serenaded the 17-2 run that closed out a convincing 52-29 victory.
The good times continued throughout the weekend where the Warriors submerged the YMA(Yeshivah Magen Abraham) Kings 69-31 behind 21 points from Allie Dweck, 12 from Asher Melamed, ten from David Sakkal, and nine from Jack Cohen.
“We stayed calm,” said assistant coach Morris Azar, “everybody can beat everybody, so we weren’t intimidated because they finished well against DRS.”
But the lopsided margin doesn’t device Morris, who said,” Waturbery has a great team, and I think they can make it to the playoffs. Once you make it to playoffs, anything can happen”.
Azar is speaking the truth as the contest against the wolfpack was much closer than the final score indicated, except a combined 31-4 Warriors run towards the end of the halves. “We scored in spurts because everyone was willing to do the little things and chip just like they’re taught in practice,” said coach Mann. “We learn from every game and corrected ourselves tonight. Now it’s onto the next one.”
YDE MET ITS MATCH…
Julius Rubenstein had 21 points, and Caleb Rosenfeld added 18 as the Ramaz Rams outworked, outplayed, and outcoached their way towards a 59-48 season-opening home victory over the previously 2-0 YDE Thunder on Tuesday. The victory is a statement to the other clubs that the # 5 ranked Rams can make a serious run at a title this season. Moments after they got off the bus, YDE began the game firing on all cylinders, clearly embracing the hostile atmosphere attached to playing in the Ramaz gymnasium. On defense, they executed the “box and one defense” on Rubenstein to limit the offensive attack and pushed the pace of play with quick decisions on the other end to take an early first-quarter advantage. But the Rams struck back with an increased emphasis on their man-man play while outmaneuvering the Thunder at the perimeter game to take a 26-21 lead into the intermission. However, the second half was where adjustments made by Ramaz overwhelmed YDE and only padded the lead.
They devised a plan to overcome the “box and one” against them by using their overt advantage in height to get inside the paint and drew fouls for Caleb to take advantage of at the charity stripe, which he repeatedly did. It allowed for revved up intensity on the opposite end leading to Thunder turnovers, domination on the glass, and transition points to cap off a 13-2 Ramaz run extending the lead to 39-23. Thunder Coach Corey Sandusky tried to throw a different look the Rams way by going the 1-3-1 defensive rout, but that backfired for it was exploited by crisp ball movement from the hosts, who finished the frame on a 13-4 clip to the delight of a raucous Rams nation and took a 52-27 lead into the fourth. The third quarter beatdown was primarily due to the excellent defense of Ruby Dabbah, who expressed confidence before the game, saying, “We got ‘em,” and hounded YDE superstar Isaac Tawil all evening long.
However, despite being tactically and physically beaten, YDE enhanced their game in the trenches, went man-man on Ramaz, and began to chip away at the deficit. Tawil broke through for a few buckets to reach 25 points on the night, while David Sayeg and Eddie Beyda(10 points) provided offense off the wings to help lead a 21-2 run, slicing the gap to 54-48 with 30 seconds remaining. But off a Rams miss, a backcourt turnover was the nail in the coffin as Ramaz iced the game at the line and bore down defensively to polish off a resounding 59-48 win.
“We just didn’t hit shots,” said Ikey Greenstein, “We weren’t aggressive enough when we had to be, and it came back to haunt us.”
“We were overpowered in that third and must improve with our shot selection.” said Eddie Beda, “They had good looks and cashed in throughout the game, and by the time we found our groove, it was too little; too late.” One thing the Thunder can take away from this educational defeat is their man-man defense, which held the high-octane Rams to seven points in the fourth, with five coming on free throws.
“It was a battle in the trenches, and we came up short, Eddie lamented, “But our man-man defense was exquisite and a strategy we’ll take moving forward.”
“We will make adjustments and learn from this, ‘’ said Steven Sayeg. “The defensive efficiency was the difference between winning and losing. It’s a long season, and nobody is perfect.”
THEN BOUNCED BACK…
Looking to avenge a loss from 645 days ago, the YDE Thunder eked out a win over NorthShore Stars on Thursday night 68-67 in Brooklyn, NY, and are now 3-1 on the season.
Per the usual, the Thunder had a robust beginning to the contest, with Abi Khezrie, Eddie Beyda, and David Sayeg bringing forth the energy that eluded them in Tuesday’s loss to Ramaz. It allowed them to remain in the sea-saw contest that featured a host of lead changes and momentum shifts throughout the first three-quarters of play. Late in the third, finding themselves even at 44, Eddie Beda launched his second buzzer-beater of the season from the same spot as he did last week against Hebrew Academy of Nassau county and swished it to give YDE a 47-44 lead entering the fourth quarter.
While the final eight minutes were “Teamwork” orientated by the Thunder, the ferocious Isaac Tawil found his shooting groove and began to extend the margin of error before resorting to being more passive once again to Beda, Khezrie, and Sayeg. They collectively were effective on both ends of the floor to maintain the YDE advantage.
The game reached its climax in the final minute, as with the hosts sporting a 66-59 lead, Tawil(33 points) and Khezri(11 points) hit free throws adding the ultimate all-important insurance points.
Obstinate, Arie Turack knocked down consecutive three’s to pull the Stars within 68-65, and when a Stars defender stripped Sayeg, it seemed as if overtime was on the horizon. However, the wide-open Star pulled up for a mid-range jumper instead of pulling back from downtown, therefore, rendering the make meaningless, and the Northshore players “Starstruck” in their one-point defeat.
SAR, TABC ON A COLLISION COURSE?
Before the pandemic canceled the season, the SAR Sting out of Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School in the Bronx was set to host the TABC Storm hailing out of the Torah Academy of Bergen County in New Jersey, looking for a spot in the final against the DRS Wildcats. Now being given one last chance two years later, the two top teams in the Western Conference seem to be steamrolling their way towards the long overdue postseason meeting.
The Storm revived a heroes welcome onto their home floor Monday night as fans streamed the court to celebrate their victory at the Steve Glouberman tournament in Los Angeles and raised a banner in honor of that achievement before the season-opener against the HAFTR(Hebrew Academy of Five Towns and Rockway) Hawks. Once play got underway, TABC showed no signs of a championship hangover, as SHMUEL YABLOK led the way with 26 points, with the Storm never looking back en route to a 69-52 win in front of a festive crowd at the weather center.
But miles away, the SAR Sting was making a name for themselves too, as they turned a sea-saw battle through three quarters into a one-sided fourth for a road win against the Heschel Heat 71-58. Leading by six entering the final frame, the Sting disciplined on the defensive end and forced their conference rivals into contested and off-balance takes. Producing most of the scoring was Junior Akiva Shanzer, whose 24 points, along with classmates Benny Neuwirth 16, became effective in the stanza, with their cohesion on full display when they capitalized off of Heschel’s mistakes and turned them into points on the scoreboard.
The victory puts SAR at 2-0 to begin the season after they trounced JEC(Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy ) 68-37 in their season-opener.
On Wednesday, TABC was trailing Elliot Braha and the Hiliel Heat 32-23 early in the third, before they went on a 29-5 run to take a commanding 52-37 lead and wound up winning 59-53. Yis Kaminetzky went for 15 in the win, Natanel Benloulou put up 11 in the win. Despite the loss, the Heat can take solace in the fact they pushed a top-tier team to the limit and will have overall confidence the rest of the way.
The Storm then capped off the week with a Thursday night demolition of the Kushner Cobras 60-32 to begin league competition 3-0.
DRS HAS REASSERTED THEMSELVES:
On Saturday night(11/20), the Wildcats bonked the #2 ranked SAR Sting 51-28 in a clinical performance that improves the Wildcats to 3-1 on the young season. Since the flabbergasting loss to Waterbury, the DRS has notched wins over MDY(60-53), HANC(81-44), and now the Sting. The reigning champs have returned to form.
SWEET REVENGE FOR FRISCH:
Jacob Feit put the “fight” in the Frisch Cougars on Monday night, as his four-goal night uplifted them past SAR 6-4, handing them their first loss in 16 games dating back to 2019. The win was notably significant for Frisch, who fell to the Sting in the semifinals 3-2 in overtime last season. SAR captain Gabriel Hornblass scored twice and had an assist, as his team rallied from 4-2 down in the third period to tie it. But Feit would slip one home with 1:13 remaining before backhanding one into the empty net 37 seconds later to clinch the victory.
The Cougars improved to 3-0 on the season three days later when Will Trump slipped one by the Kushner Cobras goaltender late in regulation for a 3-2 win.
HOME SWEET HOME:
Ezra Habert officially announced himself as a Ramaz Ram, socking home five goals in their 5-2 road win over the Kushner Cobras. EJ Singer was brilliant in the pursuit, backstopping Ramaz to the victory.
Freshman Eliya Yitzhaki had a four-goal night as HANC took down Northshore 8-1 in Varsity hockey.
I said last week how MDY was my championship favorites, but TABC may be joining them there, as they rebounded from a loss to SAR with wins over MTA(66-34) and Heschel (56-33), respectively.
TABC 4 HAFTR 2: This was a game that had ”Playoff preview” written all over it and the Storm capped off a flawless athletics week with a home win.
YESHIVAH LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Ezra Habert (Ramaz varsity hockey)
MVP (Basketball): Shmuel Yablok(TABC)
GAME OF THE WEEK: VARSITY HOCKEY:
SAR 4 FRISCH 6 (Jacob Feit four goal game)
MOMENT OF THE WEEK:
Ohor Yisreal collected their first victory in school history on Sunday, as the varsity basketball team routed Rambam 87-39.
UPCOMING GAME OF THE WEEK:
Hiliel Heat @ YDE Thunder
Tuesday, November 23rd at 8:00PMET.
The fierce Deal-Brooklyn rivalry shifts to the sport of hockey as the Heat will make their way across the Hudson River and battle Yeshivah Darchei Eretz for the title best Sephardic hockey team of today.
The Frisch Cougars got their revenge with a 6-4 win over the same SAR team that dashed their championship dreams in the 2020 postseason.
The Green House erupts in delirium as the Wildcats polished off their stunning 51-28 win over the SAR Sting.
The clock winds down in MDY’s impressive 52-29 victory over Waterbury.
Ezra Habert celebrates one of his five goals with his teammates as Ramaz fended off Kushner 5-2.