ByÂ Judah Rhine
Yeshiva University’s milestone 25th annual Red Sarachek Invitational Basketball Tournament finished off with a bang. More than 20 yeshiva high school teams from across North America took part in the annual tournament–named for the legendary Bernard “Red” Sarachek, YU’s former longtime men’s basketball coach–March 10—14.
Israel’s first-ever Ambassador of Goodwill, Jewish Hall of Fame athlete Tal Brody, paid tribute to Coach Sarachek and spoke to students and fans during the tournament. Sarachek also included a lively Shabbaton and tours of the university’s campus to provide young all-stars with an inside look at YU’s unique educational environment and culture.
“Where else but at Yeshiva University can Jewish teens from communities throughout North America enjoy each other’s company and play serious basketball in a strong Jewish environment?” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, vice president for university and community life at YU.
Tier I Championship Recap
A 32—9 run through the first 14 minutes of the second half helped DRS cruise to victory over Shalhevet from California in the championship game of the Sarachek Tournament. DRS improved their record to 32—0 with just one game remaining.
Shalhevet had no plans of conceding the championship to DRS. Down 7—3 with over four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Shalhevet exerted their offensive firepower on the DRS Wildcats en route to a 10—0 run led by forward Edan Sokol and guard Eitan Halpert, who each hit three-pointers during the stretch. Shalhevet ended the first quarter up four, 13—9, over the Wildcats.
Despite an unsuccessful second quarter offensively by Shalhevet, the Firehawks were able to stay in the game, due to an outstanding effort on the defensive end, specifically on DRS star forward Gabriel Leifer. Shalhevet swarmed Leifer with a double team every single time he touched the ball, and he was sometimes even met with triple teams. Leifer finished the quarter with zero offensive stats, and the only Wildcat to score in the period was guard Yoav Deutsch, who scored four points. At the half, the game was tied at 13.
Shalhevet took back the lead 15—14 with 6:00 left in the third quarter, when Eitan Halpert snapped an 11-minute Shalhevet scoreless streak with a basket. Unfortunately for the Firehawks, though, that was the last time the Max Stern Athletic Center scoreboard would show the Firehawks on top due in part to Sarachek Tier I MVP Gabriel Leifer.
Down by one, with DRS’s perfect season on the line, Leifer put the team on his back. Over the next five minutes of play, Leifer led the Wildcats on a championship-altering 14—3 run, in which he scored 8 points, and assisted on the other two baskets, two three-point field goals by Jeremy Brody and Zev Ben-Ami, respectively. As a result, the Wildcats took a commanding 30—19 lead going into the fourth quarter.
DRS’s offense was clicking in the fourth, scoring seven quick points, and sixteen points in the quarter’s entirety, with each of the five starters chipping in for at least two points. The Firehawks put up some points late in the period, but ultimately it was a relatively large score differential at the sound of the final buzzer, with the DRS Wildcats prevailing over the Shalhevet Firehawks, 47—32.
With the win, the DRS Wildcats improved their record in the 2015—2016 season to an unprecedented 32—0. This includes cross-country wins in the Magen David Preseason Tournament in Brooklyn, the Cooper Invitational Tournament in Memphis, HAFTR’s Scott Satran Memorial Tournament in Lawrence, and now Yeshiva University’s 2016 Red Sarachek Memorial Tournament. The Wildcats will face the Flatbush Falcons this Sunday, March 20, in the MSAC for the rights to be crowned Yeshiva League Champions and finish the season 33—0.
Sarachek MVP Gabriel Leifer led the Wildcats with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists in the championship contest. Also chipping in for the Wildcats were their other four starters: Zev Ben-Ami (1st team All-Sarachek), Yoav Deutsch, Jeremy Brody (Sarachek all-star), and Judah Levine; they finished with 8, 8, 7, and 7 points respectively.
For the Firehawks, Eitan Halpert (Sarachek all-star) was the lone scorer in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Jacob Dauer (1st team All-Sarachek) finished the contest with 3 points and 8 rebounds.
DRS’s magical season continues with Sarachek Tier I title. The DRS Wildcats continued their spectacular, undefeated season. The Wildcats had an undefeated season in the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Athletic League, under the leadership of Coach Avram Stein. Ranked as the top team coming into the national tournament, the Wildcats played exceptionally well. Sarachek MVP Gabriel Leifer led the Wildcats with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists in the championship contest. Zen Ben-Ami was named a member of the first team All-Sarachek, and Jeremy Brody was named an all-star for his amazing performance. The Wildcats will face the Flatbush Falcons this Sunday at Yeshiva University in the MYHSAL championship game.
Rambam and the Saracheck tradition. Rambam has a proud tradition of championship playing in the Sarachek Basketball Tournament, beginning in 1996 when Rambam captured first place in the Tier 1 division for two years in a row. This year, once again, Rambam was invited to participate in the Tier II division. The games began Thursday with a tough game with the Beren Academy of Houston in which Rambam bested their opponents by the score of 42—28. The team was led by strong play from senior Jack Ross, who would later be named to the Sarachek All-Tournament Second Team. Ross scored 14 points and Daniel Petrikovsky contributed key defensive stops to put Rambam over Houston.
The winning streak continued on Friday with a victory over their namesake, the Maimonides School of Boston, Massachusetts. In that game, the whole team came together, winning 81—45, with Noah Aaron, a Sarachek all-star, Sam Sicklick, and Jacob Dubin playing exceptionally well.
On Sunday, Rambam, under the guidance of Coach Steve Howard and Assistant Coach Shalom Babayev, extended the school’s Sarachek winning record to 11—0 and were the only undefeated team with such an impressive winning record. In the final game, which was played on Monday, fans were treated to a nail-biter of a game between Rambam and the RASQ Warriors of Miami. The Rambam students filled the bleachers and they cheered and supported the team from the tipoff to the final buzzer. Jonny Wiesel, Jack Ross, and Jacob Dubin kept the game close and the team coming up just one basket too short of another Rambam Sarachek championship.
The players, though disappointed, took the loss in stride and reflected upon their overall impressive season and their 11—1 Sarachek record–they are already looking forward to a winning outcome next year!
In a tough, close game, the HALB Lions defeated the Flatbush Falcons 18—14 in the 6th-grade boys’ championship game. The game started off with HALB jumping out to a 5—1 lead after the first quarter, led by Yoni Tocker’s four points. After HALB increased their lead to 9—1 early in the second quarter, Flatbush started to mount their comeback, with Chaaya scoring four points in the quarter to end the half tied at nine. The third quarter featured some tough defense by both teams and ended with the score 11—11. In the fourth, HALB failed to score a basket but made seven free-throws, with Asaf Perl hitting three free-throws. After a key steal by Yair Sokol with a little over a minute left, Ari Leifer sealed the win with three clutch made free-throws. Flatbush was led in scoring by Chaaya, 7 points. HALB had balanced scoring led by Yoni Tocker’s 6 points, Ari Leifer’s 5 points, Asaf Perl’s 4 points, and Yair Sokol’s 3 points. HALB controlled the boards led by Eitan Saffra.
High-School JV Semifinals
SAR tops DRS 42—34. Ahead 10—6 at the end of the first behind SAR freshman Drew Greenbaum’s 2 three-pointers and SAR’s pressure defense, DRS made a major run in the second, culminating in a 15—1 end-of-quarter run to propel them to a 21—14 halftime lead. The third quarter belonged to SAR with a 14—4 differential and 28—25 lead heading into the fourth as a result of Judah Oppenheimer’s 3 three-pointers. In the fourth, Oppenheimer struck again with six points and SAR held on despite two clutch threes by DRS superstar Gideon Villensky, whose two-way game was hard for the Sting to contain. Jake Schwalbe was phenomenal for the Sting with 11 points, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots, and SAR made key stops in the end of the fourth as DRS only scored 2 points in the final four minutes. Oppenheimer’s brilliant stat line: 15 points, 5 steals, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Sting will face Frisch for the yeshiva league championship game on March 20 at Yeshiva University.
Frisch tops MDY. In a semifinal matchup vs. a strong and well coached MDY Warriors squad, the Frisch Cougars had hopes of a second straight trip to the championship. The game got off to a slow start for the Cougars and they fell behind 8—2 with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter. From there, the Cougars went on 13—0 run and built a 21—8 lead. MDY clawed back, and when the halftime buzzer sounded, Frisch was clinging to a 23-22 lead. In the second half, however, it was all Frisch as they started applying pressure defense and hitting shots. When it was all said and done, Frisch had taken the game by a score of 59—33. Frisch now looks to the championship game against SAR on March 20.
DRS 58, Frisch 29. The DRS Wildcats dominated a talented Frisch team from start to finish in a Yeshiva League semifinal match-up. DRS played fantastic team defense right from the start. Judah Levine set the tone with a block on Frisch’s first shot of the game, and DRS held Frisch scoreless for the entire first quarter. Captain Gabriel Leifer scored the first 10 points of the game on his way to a game-high 31 points. With this win, DRS now has a 29&0 season overall record and they will play for the league championship on Sunday, March 20 at Yeshiva University.
Flatbush advances to finals, defeating Heschel 49—46. In what was a hard fought and exciting semifinal, the Flatbush Falcons went on the road and managed to defeat the Heschel Heat 49—46 in front of a standing-room-only crowd with fans from both schools. Heschel played a terrific first half, keeping the Falcons at bay in carrying a 23—15 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, the Falcons clawed their way back in and cut the Heschel lead down 2 heading into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle with clutch shots made for Heschel by Aaron Brandeis and Sam Schwartzman, while Abie Rosow and Kevin Haddad connected for Flatbush from long range. In the final minute, Jake Shalom and Kevin Haddad hit four clutch free-throws turning a one-point deficit into a three-point victory, continuing Flatbush’s season and ending Heschel’s impressive run through the league. Sam Schwartzman of Heschel led all scorers with 23. Kevin Haddad of Flatbush finished with 16 points. Congratulations to both schools and their fans on delivering a great semifinal.
High Hopes In Hockey
HALB Lions roar. The HALB Lions junior high school hockey team won the Metropolitan Yeshiva Middle School Athletic League Championship for the second year in a row this past Sunday at the Lawrence Middle School. HALB beat YCQ with a score of 3—0, after playing an undefeated season. Goalie Michael Mintz was named MVP.
Coached by Steven Mark, the seventh- and eighth-grade championship team roster includes Gavriel Aharon, Gavi Schechter, Ethan Hirschfeld, Zach Bach, Ilan Frenkel, Jacob Berry, Noah Chesir, Tzvi Yudin, Aidan Schechter, Yoni Kwestel, Eitan Miller, Jared Mark, Yona Ben-Ami, Benji Rose, Andrew Shayovitz, Ami Schreiber, Ilan Schochet, Yoni Miller, Daniel Marks, Yoni Goldberg, Caleb Pollan, Ariel Ifergan, Michael Mintz, and Yoni Savitsky.
DRS Wildcats win JV hockey championship. DRS’s JV hockey team took home the gold on Sunday, defeating the Frisch Cougars by a score of 3—1 in the championship game of the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Athletic League, held at Lawrence Middle School. Led by head coach Larry Gross and assistant coaches Rabbi Steven Genachowski and Zach Kirshner, the team had a perfect season, going 13—0, culminating in the championship victory. Sophomore Jake Weinstock was named MVP, and fellow sophomore Jakey Friedman, the team’s goalie, was also recognized for his tenacity, performance, and sportsmanship, which propelled the team to their banner season.
MVP Boys’ Basketball Eighth Annual All-Star Day, March 27
This year, the event will be taking place at SAR High School in Riverdale. The daylong program features five all-star games–sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, high school junior varsity, and high school varsity. The all-star rosters comprise players from yeshivas throughout the New York/New Jersey and Long Island metro area as selected by their respective coaches. Each of the participants will receive MVP All-Star Day T-shirts. The teams will be coached by coaches from the yeshivas. At halftime of each all-star game there will be the always exciting MVP 3-Point Shootout which features 3-Point “specialists” again, as selected by their respective coaches. Each 3-point champion will receive an MVP 3-Point Shootout trophy. Two MVPs from each all-star game (one from the winning team and one from the losing team) will be awarded MVP trophies as well. The games are attended by many spectators including family, friends, and teammates.
This event is the kickoff for MVP Boys Basketball Camp 2016. Now entering its eighth successful year, MVP Basketball Camp is the premier Orthodox Jewish basketball camp taking place in the magnificent setting of Camp Seneca Lake at the end of August (August 21—25). For more information and to be part of MVP, please contact Judah Rhine (516-707-2638, email@example.com) or Irv Bader (718-261-2267, firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.senecalake.com and click on the MVP link.
MVP Basketball: All ball, all the time: Where every player can be an MVP.Â v
Judah Rhine, who has been coaching youth basketball for more than 35 years, is co-director of MVP Boys Basketball Camp and MVP Girls Basketball Camp and coâ€‘commissioner of the National Council of Young Israel basketball league. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.