ByÂ Judah Rhine
HAFTR Middle School would like to acknowledge and congratulate its champion basketball teams–6th grade girls’ team and coach Jelleah Sidney, the girls’ varsity team and coach Neil Wiener, and 7th grade boys’ team and Coach Scott Ferguson. Each of the respective championship games were so much fun to watch and HAFTR is so proud of their accomplishments! For more information about these games, please contact Joey Hoenig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-984-8250.
HAFTR 7th-Grade Champions. On Tuesday, March 7, the 7th grade Flatbush Falcons basketball team faced off against the HAFTR Hawks at Magen David in a classic championship game. The atmosphere in the gym was electric with an overwhelming crowd of cheering fans. The game started off with HAFTR hitting a three, only to have Abie Saada come right back with a three of his own to tie the score. HAFTR then opened up a 10—5 lead; but the Falcons answered with a 4—0 run and were only down 10—9 after one quarter. The second quarter was a seesaw battle with HAFTR opening up a 19-13 halftime lead. HAFTR continued their run in the third quarter and extended the lead to 10. But the Falcons were determined to make a dramatic comeback and that they did. Led by Irwin Azar, the Falcons cut into the HAFTR lead and finally tied the score at 37 with under a minute to play. HAFTR then made a go-ahead basket to reclaim the lead, 39—37. Flatbush came down court in an attempt to tie, but the shot fell short and HAFTR was crowned champion by a final score of 39—37. Salem led all scorers with 24 points. Irwin Azar led the way for Flatbush with 17 points, and Abie Saada had 9 points.
The Heschel Heat, after opening a 17-point lead after three quarters, saw the Rambam Ravens claw back to within 6 before closing out the home game 56—46. The Heat were led by Ilan Orgel’s 20 points and 10 rebounds and Harlan Reiss’s 18 points and 9 rebounds. The Ravens were led by Noah Aaron’s 11 points and Daniel Petrikovsky’s 11 as well. The Heat will host last year’s undefeated champ DRS at home on Thursday, March 16 at 8:15 p.m.
HAFTR over MTA, 60—52. In a well-played game, HAFTR came out with an intense and balanced effort. Playing a good man-to-man defense, HAFTR was able to slow down the MTA offense that is normally led by Eitan Pfeiffer and Eitan Warburg. HAFTR jumped out to about a 10-point lead with the help Ben Kornblum, Gabe Shamama, Dovie Baratz, and Adam Herman. Isaiah Anderson did his best to keep MTA in the game with outstanding effort on both offense and defense. HAFTR went into halftime with a 9-point lead. In a tightly contested second half, HAFTR was able to withstand any run made by MTA and was led by Gabe Shamama and Matthew Jedwab. Those two were able to come up with big baskets and slow down any run that MTA tried to make. Pfeiffer and Warburg played with great tenacity and were able to keep fighting to close the lead to as close as 7 with tremendous hustle and foul shooting. In the end of the game, Matthew Jedwab went 8-8 from the line and finished with 26 points to lead HAFTR to victory. Gabe Shamama finished with 15. HAFTR won with an all-around team effort both on offense and defense.
TABC over YDE. In a hard-fought quarterfinals contest, TABC held off YDE, 54—37. The game was intense and well played by both teams as reflected in the balanced scoring and rebounding.
Frisch Defeats HANC. The Frisch Cougars jumped out to an early 5—0 lead in a quarterfinals matchup vs. HANC. When the HANC Hurricanes tied up the game at 5—5, the Cougars went on a tear and jumped to a 16—7 first-quarter lead. When the second-quarter buzzer sounded, Frisch had a 33—20 lead. Frisch built the lead to 20 to end the third. In the end, Frisch defeated HANC 74—40 and looks forward to facing the MDY Warriors team in the semifinals.
Varsity Hockey Playoffs
In a rematch of the entertaining and high-scoring 2015 JV Finals, the Ravens traveled to Riverdale to take on the SAR Sting seeking some revenge. After falling behind 1—0 to the high-powered Rambam Ravens squad, SAR was able to turn on the jets, piling up eight goals, including the final four unanswered, en route to an 8—3 triumph in their quarterfinal matchup. Romi Harcsztark continued his strong play of late, scoring SAR’s first goal of the game to even the score at 1. Shortly after, on a delayed penalty, Captain Gordie Kolb would score a goal, assisted by Joey Mogilner, that would be the first of an eventual three goals scored by SAR in response to a Ravens penalty. SAR went 2—6 on the power play, a stellar line, especially when including the delayed penalty goal scored by Kolb. Senior sniper Solomon Freilich, in the final home game in his career, scored 4 goals, tying his career high. Freilich scored goals that gave SAR 3—1, 4—1, 6—3, and 7—3 leads. Despite taking four penalties, SAR was able to kill off all of them and prevented the Rambam power play from mustering any momentum. Penalty killing forwards Kolb, Freilich, Mogilner, and Harcsztark were able to stifle the Rambam power play all night long. Behind strong play in net from sophomore Henri Kolb, SAR was able to dominate the Ravens in every aspect of the game. Four SAR players had multi-point games, Freilich, Kolb, Mogilner, and junior defenseman Ephraim Herstic. The Sting move on to their third consecutive varsity semifinals where they play DRS.
JV Hockey Playoffs
Frisch Advances to Finals for 2nd Year. In a rematch of last year’s championship, and an early-season matchup which ended in a tie, Frisch took the long trip out to Long Island for what would turn out to be an epic semifinal matchup in the DRS gym. It looked like the trip wore on Frisch as they came out sluggish and led to a few DRS chances in which they were able to capitalize on a wrap-around goal by Frenkel to give DRS an early 1—0 lead. Frisch started to wake up and mounted a few chances, hitting two posts, as there was a seesaw battle ending the first.
The second period saw much of the same seesaw battleÂ and the score was tied heading into the third.
As the third period started, Frisch mounted a great amount of offensive pressure, but Aryeh continued to stand tall in net. As the period wore on, each team had their shots, but the goalies both would not let anything past them, and the game headed into overtime.
DRS came out incredibly strong the first four minutes of OT mounting an incredible amount of chances and shots, but Markovitz thwarted each one of them. Frisch then swung the momentum the other way, testing Aryeh who was up to the task. Finally, with 5:45 left on a deep faceoff in the DRS defensive zone, Jason Alter won the faceoff directly back to Josh Levine, who, much like his shot earlier in the game, was able to bury the wrist shot, sending Frisch back to the finals for the second year in a row.
Sarachek Basketball Tournament 2017
Frisch Hoists Tier I Trophy in Nail-Biter Victory. For the second time in three years, the top-seeded Frisch School Cougars (Paramus, NJ) are once again Sarachek champions, as they defeated the Shalhevet High School Firehawks (Los Angeles, CA) 49—47 in a thrilling Tier I championship game on Monday afternoon that came all the way down to the wire.
A jam-packed Max Stern Athletic Center was filled with the two perennial powerhouse high-school basketball teams, large supporting fan-bases, and a spirited crowd, generating a tremendous amount of pride, intensity, and drama throughout a closely contested battle. Ultimately, the Cougars were the last ones standing.
Frisch’s Yisroel Solomon, a senior guard who inherited the nickname “the run starter,” after his uncanny job at igniting runs at opportune times for his team in their semifinal match-up, hit what would be the deciding free-throws with 2.1 seconds remaining on the game clock after getting fouled on a drive through the lane. With the game all tied up at 47 with nine seconds remaining in the game, Solomon received a pass from Isaac Laifer and took it hard to the paint. The senior got up and sank two free-throws that landed him a spot in both Frisch and Sarachek lore.
Setting up the aforementioned sequence, the heroics of Firehawks superstar Eitan Halpert were on full display. Coming off of a timeout with 19 seconds left to play and down by 3, Shalhevet guard Zack Muller received a baseline inbound pass and missed a layup. Halpert, who finished with a remarkable double-double of 26 and 15 rebounds, cleaned up his teammate’s miss with a put-back layup while getting fouled in the process. His free-throw knotted the game at 47 and 9 seconds left to play.
The Firehawks, seeded third in the tournament, were unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer sounded, as they had to go the full length of the court after Solomon put up Frisch for good. With the loss, Shalhevet has fallen in the Sarachek Championship Game for consecutive years. They were beaten by last year’s champions, DRS Yeshiva High School, by a score of 47—32.
Before the game got under way, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel addressed the Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament crowd for one last time, as his term in office finishes later this year. While he spoke, he emphasized the importance of religious unity and closeness within our respective communities. His message appropriately prefaced what would be a close, tightly-knitted championship game.
The game was never out of contention for either school, as neither team ever led by more than 5 points. Frisch was up by a score of 24—21 at halftime. Throughout both halves, however, leads were routinely exchanged, and the game was frequently tied.
The game’s first quarter was sloppy with inconsistent play, featuring a plethora of turnovers by both teams. The chaos was caused by poor passes, miscommunications, and likely the high tensions that certainly affected the players in the championship-game setting.
The Frisch team started to find its way in the second quarter, outscoring Shalhevet by 5 in the period. Their offensive charge was led by fan-favorite Josh Dukas, who scored 8 points in the quarter and 11 overall in the game.
The second half featured plenty of drama, largely produced by Firehawks senior guard Edan Sokol. After being whistled in the third quarter for his team’s second technical foul of the game for arguing with referees, Sokol carried his team offensively in fourth. He hit two huge 3-pointers, each from the same corner of the court, and each putting his team in front by three in their respective moments. The senior finished with 10 points on 4-8 shooting from the floor, but he and Halpert got little support from their teammates, limiting Shalhevet’s offensive options.
Both Frisch and Shalhevet shot very well from the free-throw line, finishing with 74% and 87%, respectively. While the Firehawks statistically had the better game from the charity stripe, Frisch reached the line 34 times compared to Shalhevet’s only 15 appearances. A game which featured almost 50 free-throws was fittingly decided right there at the line, where Yisroel Solomon, bigger than the moment, delivered the biggest shots of his life.
Despite Shalhevet’s loss in the championship game, Eitan Halpert was named a well-deserved tournament MVP after two phenomenal showings in the Firehawks semifinal and championship contests. Halpert certainly did all he could in this one to propel his team to the promised land, but, unfortunately his efforts fell just short.
In all, a hard-fought, entertaining game capped off what was an exciting 2017 Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament. Frisch went 3—0 en route to their championship finish, defeating MTA, SAR, and finally Shalhevet along the way. For more coverage of the game and the box score, be sure to visit MacsLive.com, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva Sports and exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Tournament.
On behalf of MacsLive, I would like to thank everyone who has tuned into MacsLive, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva University Athletics and the exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament, throughout this year’s tournament. We hope you enjoyed and we look forward to serving you again next year. We would also like to congratulate the Frisch Cougars, the Ida Crown Aces, the YULA Panthers, and the Kohelet Kings on winning their respective tiers. Thanks to Nathan Feifel for this report.
Rambam Juniors Interview Former UPenn Star Turned Religious Jew
By The Rambam Interview Crew
Hours after leading the Oilers to their fourth Stanley Cup in five years, Wayne Gretzky learned that he was going to be traded to the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, or LA Kings. He was traded to the Kings with two teammates for two players, $15 million, and a first-round pick. He was upset; all of Canada was upset–so much so that the government almost stopped it. At first thought, it was upsetting to him that he couldn’t be an Oiler for life. After contemplation, he realized that this is great for hockey! The competition would be better, and, more importantly, his name could spread hockey all across the West Coast, which was in dire need of some hockey help. He did just that, and now some of the best NHL players, including Auston Matthews, are from the West Coast. Without Gretzky, we may not have any West Coast teams in the NHL at all.
This story can be compared to that of Zack Rosen, whose original plans did not work out (he wanted to be drafted into the NBA), but he found out what was most important to him: becoming a religious Jew.
Itai Eliach: What was your connection to Judaism like growing up?
Zack Rosen: Growing up, I was raised Conservative-ish. We only got together for the main holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach. I went to Hebrew school, and had a bar mitzvah and that was it.
IE: How did you progress to a national powerhouse and play for Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ?
ZR: B’siyatta d’Shmaya. I hurt my elbow really badly and the doctors looked at my elbow and said there’s no way I’m coming back. I just kept working, and never took “no” for an answer. That was my greatest quality.
IE: What was it like spearheading Coach Danny Hurley’s team that was the #1 ranked team in the country, and which had many future NBA players?
ZR: We were good at all positions and [the experience] was amazing. But every single day, to fight for your spot and to become a real authentic, genuine competitor was an amazing experience.
IE: How was Danny Hurley as a coach?
ZR: He can get the most out of people and push the right buttons. I would find it hard to believe that anyone coaching works harder than he does. (Danny Hurley led the University of Rhode Island back to the NCAA Tournament this year.)
IE: Which future NBA players did you play with on that team?
ZR: Tristan Thompson. Samardo Samuels was our best player; he played for the Cavaliers also. Lance Thomas, who played for the Knicks, was not on that team but in the gym.
Jakey Srulovich: How did you handle being Jewish on a Division I basketball team, and how did people look at you differently on and off the court?
ZR: I wasn’t in touch with the fact that I was Jewish until senior year when I really started questioning things about my life.
JS: What other offers did you get from college programs around the country?
ZR: I had around 15 or 20 scholarship offers.
JS: Are you in touch with any of your teammates from Penn?
ZR: We were in touch, but being in Israel makes it harder.
JS: Who is the best player you played against in your college days?
ZR: Probably Ty Lawson or Brandon Knight.
JS: At Penn you were a 3-time captain, the first in Penn history; what advice do you have for young athletes like me about how to be a leader?
ZR: I’d say one of the most important things I learned in my career is that you don’t need to be the guy with the most ability to be a leader. There are many different types of leaders, and my advice to you is to figure out who you are and what type of leader you are.
Jacob Korman: What was your reaction to going undrafted?
ZR: At first, I didn’t expect it. By the start of senior year, I started playing out of my mind. By draft time I firmly believed that with the class that was in there I could’ve gotten drafted.
JK: What did you experience from the summer league?
ZR: A rude awakening of how much I needed to know basketball on the professional level. I had an amazing training camp with the 76ers. I got the opportunity to play, but I didn’t play as well as I could have.
JK: You played for three professional teams in Israel; which one was your favorite and why?
ZR: Ashdod was my favorite–I loved everything about it. My first year was rough; I had a great coach, but I didn’t know how to relate to him, though I learned a crazy amount.
JK: You vs. Steph Curry in a three-point shoot-out: who do I put my money one?
ZR: I could possibly make about 80 or so. He’s probably the best shooter of all time. To put my name in would be unfair to him.
Gavriel Haviv: I was told that the general manager of the Orlando Magic said that he was going to draft you. Can you expand on that?
ZR: Well, the Magic really liked me, they were saying they were going to take me in the second round, and two weeks before the draft, he got fired.
GH: You won two consecutive three-point contests in Israel. Who taught you your three-point shot?
ZR It was really self-taught, but my father gets credit because he rebounded for me.
GH: Where in Israel do you live? What do you do for a living?
ZR: I live in Yerushalayim; I’m actually getting married in three weeks. I saved a lot of my money from playing, and I come back to America in the summer. I work in camps, and I speak. That takes pretty good care of me for now. I’m learning in Yeshivas Ohr Somayach currently.
Effie Klein: In sports, you have the defining play of the game. What exactly was your “defining play” in life that made you become religious?
ZR: There was a rabbi who walked into the Hillel. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, and we spoke for the next hour. I was very intrigued by what he said, and, six years later, he was the one who set me up with my wife.
EK: What’s his name?
ZR: Rabbi Wenglin. He’s from Scarsdale, NY. He went to Harvard and became a ba’al teshuvah.
EK: What do you love most about being religious?
ZR: That’s a hard question–it’s all great! Mainly, the family, commitment, and discipline that pulled me in. I’m amazed by frum Jews, just amazed.
EK: Do you feel more at home in Israel as opposed to if you’d been in the NBA?
ZR: Culturally and religiously, definitely.
EK: Which former or current NBA players do you see yourself play like?
ZR: Steve Nash was my hero. I watched him a lot and tried to mimic his play-style.
Thank you,Â Zack Rosen, for being so helpful throughout this entire process, graciously accepting the Rambam boys’ request to interview you, and for sharing your amazing story.
Thank-you to Shirley Levy for helping us get settled, making sure Zack was on the line with us, and remaining patient after we accidentally called her phone a lot.
Thank-you to Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman for letting us use his office.
Thank-you to Gavriel Haviv for spearheading this project, for finding Zack Rosen, and for recruiting an all-star lineup.
Thank-you to Itai Eliach for being the enforcer of the group, making sure everything got done on time, and for recording the interview.
Thank-you to Effie Klein who had great questions, got everything in first, and checked the article for any mistakes.
Thank-you to Jakey Srulovich for raising our standards on questions. Without his amazing questions, we wouldn’t have had the same quality interview.
Thank-you to Jacob Korman for joining the squad. His ideas and questions really put our interview at another level.
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.