By: Marvin Azrak
All season long, the kids across Yeshiva league sports have put in the blood, sweat, and tears to best position themselves for moments like the quarterfinal and semifinal round, which took place over this past week across high school hockey and basketball providing continuity among the county’s in the greater New York/New Jersey area. When the dust settled, one powerhouse area was submerged in basketball, while two hockey giants etched their way into finals lore.
VARSITY BASKETBALL QUARTERFINALS:
- YDE(9-7) 33 1.SAR(14-1) 50
In front of a raucous crowd on “Sting night” at the hive, the top seed flexed their muscles and exploited the upstart Thunder to advance to the semifinals. Points were at a premium early on, with both teams struggling to initially adapt to the physical playoff brand of basketball. But the Sting used their rapid ball movement to overcome the Thunder’s aggressive press for a 12-2 run to head into the half with an 18-9 lead. In the third, SAR laid down the gauntlet extending the lead to double-digits with their strong perimeter play. YDE star Isaac Tawil kept it close, but the hosts still led 25-18 heading into the fourth, to the delight of the emphatic Sting nation, who were entertained during timeouts with t-shirt cannons and a halftime skills competition.
Trailing 30-18, YDE ripped off a 13-5 surge led by exquisite passing to temporarily silence the crowd with 6:00 remaining. But when push came to shove, it were the Sting who were simply the better team, feeding off of the external energy to help shut the door defensively by holding YDE to just one more bucket , and outmuscling the Thunder on the offensive end, before putting the final score in the “blowout zone” by nailing their free throws.
The loss ends what was once a season full of promise for the Thunder under new coach Corey Sandusky, who now graduates eight seniors including Tawil.
- TABC(12-4) 67 4. Flatbush(9-6) 62
Despite a herculean 39 point performance out of Irwin Azar, the Flatbush Falcons were eliminated for a second straight season and defeated for the fifth time in two seasons, by the TABC Storm on Saturday night in Brooklyn, NY. Fueled by their white-out laden crowd, the hosts roared for an early 7-2 lead, but a 14-6 surge put TABC ahead 16-13 after one quarter of play. The second stanza showcased a three point barrage by the Storm, who further increased their lead to 35-21 at intermission. But undeterred, Irwin Azar willed his team back into the contest, taking a pass from battery mate in senior Morris Chaya and nailing a running trey to ignite the Flatbush faithful, and trim the deficit down to 50-42 headed into the fourth, capping off an 8-0 run.
In the frantic finale, Eli Saks and Yis Kaminetzky helped stave off the Falcons attack, with an and one by Harry Orlinsky bumping the advantage up to 61-52 inside five minutes remaining. But six straight points by Azar had his team within striking distance at 61-58, but that’s as close as the Falcons would get, for Netanel Benloulou and the Storm converted from the charity stripe in the waning moments to keep their distance and seal the exhilarating road victory.
It marks the second straight playoff win for TABC, who knocked off the Hillel Heat 40-30 in the Wild card round, before topping the bye-marked Falcons.
For Flatbush, while their dreams of a league championship have been shattered, they can still reign supreme at the upcoming Red Sarachek tournament spanning from March 24-28, featuring the top 24 Yeshivah basketball teams in the nation.
- MDY 43(10-6) RAMAZ 51(13-2)
Coaches preach repeatedly at practices and in pregame speeches just how important free throws are, and how it can make a difference between saving and ending your season. On Monday night in Manhattan, the Rams did just that, and turned a tightly contested contest into a slight runaway victory, with the final 13 points of their momentous 17–5 run coming on free throws late in the fourth quarter.
Ramaz will face the winner of Tuesday’s Frisch-DRS bout in the semifinals, while Magen David will look to reassert themselves in Sarachek. Monday’s defeat marked the end of a championship coming to a Syrian based team, with YDE, Flatbush and the Warriors joining Hillel and Magen Avraham as teams that have been ousted in these playoffs.
QF: 8. SAR(10-5) 4 1.DRS(13-2) 2
In order to defeat the presidents-trophy winning Wildcats at the prestigious green house in Woodmere,NY, the Sting realized they needed a few aspects to go their way. First they needed great goaltending, especially since DRS routed them 7-3 at the hive in the regular season. Next, they needed sacrificial defense with players willing to block shots. Third, they needed to capitalize on their power play chances, and they also needed the all integral “puck luck” to bounce their way. Luckily, they got all of that and more, as Gabriel Hornblass sent home two goals, and superb goaltending from Elan Lurie as well as a slew of blocked shots helped SAR shock the Yeshivah hockey world and advance to the semifinals.
- HANC(11-5) 1 2. TABC(14-1-1) 7
The Hurricanes entered the weather center riding on an emotional high after goaltender Joey Diamond helped backstop them to an exhilarating 2-1 win over the MTA Lions in the first round, while TABC obliterated Vezina trophy winner Sam Kormean and Rambam 5-0, despite Sam’s 45 saves.
The match was a repeat of their season opener, when the Storm handled HANC 7-2 in their first meeting following the 3-1 playoff victory in 2020. It was no different here, as TABC booked their spot in their third straight final with the resounding win and are a win shy of repeating at champions.
- SAR(10-6) 3 4. Frisch (13-2-1) 4
In a rematch of the semifinals two years ago when Hornblass netted the OT winner at the hive, the Cougars took advantage of home court this time and held off the Sting to advance to the finals against fellow New Jersey rival, in the TABC Storm. Sam Weinberg got the scoring started for Frisch, who jumped out to a 4-0 lead before three late goals by SAR,two by Hornblass, made for a dramatic and anti-climatic waning seconds.
It will be the DRS Wildcats(10-0-1) in the finals after their 5-2 comeback win over Kushner at the Green House on Monday, against either HAFTR(8-3) or TABC(10-0), who face off on Tuesday night at the Weather Center in New Jersey.
The semi finals are set:
MDY(9-2) @ Frisch (9-2)
Northshore(8-3) @ Flatbush(9-2)
Both games will take place on Wednesday night March 9th
Jacob CHAMi drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the MDY Warriors(8-1) to a thrilling victory over arch rival Flatbush(7-3) 47-46 on Sunday at the Warrior dome, earning the leagues top seed entering the postseason and a banner in their gym honoring that.
Prior to that win, the sixth grade Warriors trounced the Falcons 47-34 to remain perfect on the young season.