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Thursday, January 20, 2022

THUNDEROUS VICTORY! YDE thumps YFR for Historic Championship Title. 

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By  Marvin A Azrak
Thunder at last.
Jakey “MVP” Arakanchi poured in 28 points less than 24 hours after his “Three heard around Brooklyn” that sent his team to the finals, where the YDE JV basketball team subjugated the previously undefeated Yeshivah Far Rockway Raptors 70-53 for the 2022 MBA(Metzvia Basketball Association) championship. The triumph is Yeshivah Darchei Eretz’s first Yeshivah basketball league high school championship and second in three seasons delivered by coach Danny Mizrahi, who also brought home an eighth-grade win in 2019.
The victory was also the first victory for assistant Coach Frank Ercole after a decade in Jewish basketball. It was YDE‘s first season in the Association after they were shut out of the prestigious MYSHAL field due to their vaccine mandate opting to respect their decision and looked for play elsewhere. “It’s a different league, but our goal remains the same of bringing home a championship,” said Danny at the time, and the team went to work from there on their high school debuts.
The Thunder began the season with three blistering straight wins before their first loss 59-50 against a buzzsaw in YFR. This was surprising, considering YDE were the favorites. Still, the players sounded optimistic after the defeat, including Albert Hamra, who stated, “We’ll see them again, and we’ll make that rematch count. Just need to make a few adjustments defensively, and we’ll have their number.”
The old cliche of “Defense wins championships” rang true in YDE’s second loss of the season, when they dropped a 51-47 overtime decision to YZP from
Staten Island. Luckily, the team regrouped and recorded two convincing wins to finish the season 6-2 and earn the first-round bye via their season-opening victory over YDT. Yet, Darchei Hatorah defeated six seeded NISH in the wild card round to set up their semifinal rematch with YDE. By this point, the Thunder had discovered more trust in each other, as they had also pulled down three non-conference victories over JEC(55-53), Ohor Hatorah(66-50), and Hillel (77-63), where superstar Jakey Arakanchi poured in 39 points on the road in Jersey.
The teams took the floor on a chilly Saturday night in the MAY gym for the second semifinal, with the winner advancing to face the undefeated YFR Raptors in the championship. No stranger to “Bus games,” with this being their seventh one of the MBA season, YDE shot the lights out in the early going to silence the pro- Darchei Torah crowd and take an early 16-8 lead. But the offense transitioned into a state of listless play on both ends of the court, which saw YDT close the half on a 23-5 run for a 31-21 advantage, putting the Thunder’s dream matchup opportunity in peril. After Coach Mizrahi lit into his men in the locker room, Jakey Arakanchi took it upon himself to be a leader and scored the ball at will to begin a Thunderous rally towards the final. Backed by the defensive play of Leon Jajati and Leo Mizrahi, as well as the spark off the bench ignited by Isaac Beda, YDE closed to within 44-42 before Jakey fought his way to the charity stripe and sank two free throws to tie the game. After both teams traded buckets, a timeout was called with 1:00 left in regulation. This is where the  “Defense first” mantra was preached by coach Mizrahi and coach Ercole, who knew that while everyone was dreaming of being the hero, they needed a stop first on the other end of the floor.
That mentality ultimately was the difference between a win and a crushing loss, as a YDT miss put the season in the Isaac Nisiri, who took advantage of the no-shot clock rule and milked 20 seconds off the clock before making his move. He went right but was stopped, so he kicked it out at the top of the key to Leon Jajati, who went left before finding a cutting Arakanchi in the corner for the three-point look of a lifetime. “I tell him all the time not to shoot 3’s,” Danny said, but in this case, Jakey was forced to step out of his comfort zone and, with the seconds ticking towards overtime, launched a shot to ensure the Thunder wouldn’t need this classic to get there.
The ball swished through the twine just as the horn sounded. The YDE sideline exploded in jubilation, with Arakanchi cementing his status as the most clutch player in YDE JV basketball history by uplifting his team to a 49-46 win and a spot in the final in less than 24 hours from then against the undefeated YFR Raptors.
As the contingent bused over to the arena the next day, there was a sense of anxiousness and excitement of having an opportunity to bring home a championship trophy to the school while also proving you can make the best with what you have with all that has gone on this year. “It’s a testament to what these guys have done,” said coach Ercole pregame, “But now we have to finish the job.” As the players were introduced, Danny Mizrahi looked calm as a cucumber and had complete confidence in his guys. “We practiced hard, we had a great team meeting, and now it’s time to bring this thing home.”
At 7:02 PM, the ball went up in the air, and a quick Raptors score ignited a frenzy throughout the mascot-led YFR crowd. But that would get no louder, as YDE used a steady diet of ball movement and exquisite execution of the triangle two defense to limit the high-octane Raps attack.
Luckily, it was one of the advantages of playing on back-back days. Coach Mizrahi hadn’t yet deployed the prestigious formation in a game but had it drilled into his team during practices following the regular-season defeat. “I knew they were watching us last night, so I didn’t want o use it then, and I’m glad we didn’t have to. They had no time to practice for us, but we’ve been game planning as a group for a month,” said Coach Miz.
“They threw  the first punch,” said Jakey,” But we threw the next 16.” Indeed the Thunder delivered a compressing blow when they used the adrenaline for a 16-0 rip, led by fiery perimeter play on both sides of the ball from Leo Mizrahi and Leon Jajati and excellent paint play by Albert Hamra. At the same time, the nimble Jakey Arakanchi bulldozed his way in the lane for layups while truculently pushing the pace of play. The speed, agility, and craftiness overwhelmed the hotshot Raptors, who couldn’t make the necessary in-game adjustments that would help them turn the tide. The first half had Jakey’s, Danny’s, and Frank’s fingerprints imprinted as the lead ballooned to 42-19 at the break to the delight of Thunder nation in attendance and watching online.
As one fan told TJV at the break, “That was shockingly lopsided considering how well-coached both teams are.” But as great as the Raptors were, YDE elevated their level from wire-wire, refusing to let their guard down in the first 20 minutes, and giving YFR hope.
The second half began as one would expect, with the Raptors making a run and using the intermission to alter their gameplay. The quick 9-0 run sliced the deficit to 42-28 with 15:30 minutes remaining, forcing Danny to talk it over with his group. The Thunder then became more patient, and it allowed for Jakey Arakanchi to willingly separate the two sides. Through sheer determination, skill, and perseverance, his aggressiveness inspired the Thunder bench. It allowed players like Isaac Beda to comfortably fit their role when some starters, like two-way all-star and point guard Isaac Nisiri,  needed a breather. While it wasn’t pretty due to sloppy turnovers and poor shot selection, YDE maintained their double-digit lead throughout the rest of the contest, with Arakanchi putting the finishing touches on the win when he stole an errant pass and went the length of the floor for a lay-in, increasing the advantage to 65-50, and effectively beginning the celebration on the bench.
The time ticked down on the 70-53 final, and the players joined together at center court for the joyous celebration. A trophy Ceremony, team picture, and victory water bottle showers followed the occasion. “I’m extremely proud of this group,” quipped Danny, who still rewatches the victories from his 2019 eighth grade championship run on their respective anniversaries each year, “We worked hard, battled through adversity, and saved our best for last to bring this trophy home.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” stated Coach Ercole,” I have immense gratitude to Danny for allowing me to join his staff and for the kids who wanted me along for the ride. I’ve been coaching here at YDE for a while, so to get my hands on one is truly special and hard to put into words.”
The team was honored at school on Monday with a championship ceremony, celebratory danishes, and the trophy displayed for all to see in the hallway before being placed in the trophy case where it will join the elite company. Each player got its award, with Jakey taking home MVP honors.  The celebration will continue after Winter Vacation and midterms, as there’s currently a banner in the works that will reside in the gymnasium, as this team has forever etched itself in YDE Thunder lore. The team will also have their end of season party, which promises to be filled with laughter, disbelief, and a sense of pride for putting Yeshivah Darchei Erets basketball back on the map and making their first impression at the high school level a memorable one filled with Thunder.
CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER:
Mark Antebi (#33)
Jakey Arakanchi (#34)
Albert Assis (#3)
Isaac Beda(#24)
Elliot Chehebar(#13)
Albert Hamra(#1)
Leon Jajati(#2)
Joseph Laniado(#21)
Gaby Lati(#11)
Leo Mizrahi (#5)
Isaac Nsiri(#23)
Solomon Sayegh(#12)
Marco Scaba(#15)
Micheal Shamah(#14)
Danny Mizrahi (Coach)
Frank Ercole (Coach)
All games from this championship season are available on the “Danny Mizrahi” YouTube channel, with 387 subscribers despite just 323 videos.

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