High School Varsity
DRS vs. Magen David. In what can be billed as the game of the year, DRS visited Magen David in a showdown of powerhouse teams atop the Eastern Division of the Boys Varsity Basketball League. DRS raced out to an unthinkable 30–5 advantage at the end of the first quarter, which ballooned to 35–5 early in the second quarter. MDY was trying all types of strategies but DRS answered back each time.
At halftime DRS held a 41–14 lead. One can only imagine what was said in the MDY locker room but MDY was determined to get back in the game, despite the seemingly insurmountable deficit they faced. Led by Jajati and Natkin, MDY outscored DRS 26–10 in the third quarter and closed the gap to 51–40 after three. In the fourth quarter, MDY continued to apply the pressure and Natkin sank a foul shot to tie the score at 67 and send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, MDY won the tap and went into a stall for the entire overtime period, only to resort to a desperation 3-point shot. MDY eventually tied the game and actually took a 1-point advantage with less than 1 minute left. DRS fell short, sending the game into the second overtime. The second overtime period featured back and forth twists and turns. Led by two clutch threes by Bennett, DRS was able to hold on for a thrilling 77–71 victory. DRS was led by Kahn with 21 points and Brown with 19 points. MDY was led by Natkin with 33 points, Jajati with 15 points, and Nsiri with 13 points.
DRS vs. Rambam. For the second night in a row, the Wildcats needed double OT to win a crucial division game. Down 8 in the fourth quarter, DRS took the lead late only to have Rambam tie the game with three seconds left. Zack Brown and Noah Rhine both were perfect from the foul line in the extra sessions going 10-for-10 leading DRS to victory, 69–67. Brown led all scorers with 26 points. Gavriel Kahn added 17 points.
Kushner vs. JEC. The nightcap between the varsities of these rivals promised to be a competitive battle between two teams fighting to find a spot in the 6 out of 10 team playoff list in the balanced and highly competitive Yeshiva League West Division.
JEC was coming off 4 straight wins, all over top 10 nationally ranked teams, to earn a top 25 national ranking for the first time in 4 years. Kushner, in the national discussion all season, had just lost an exciting game to another playoff challenger, MTA, on Wednesday night in overtime. Those teams were evenly matched and by all pre-game accounts, JEC also was evenly matched with Kushner, and another barnburner was in the offing.
Kushner won the tip, but as would be its pattern all night, JEC stole the ball and captain guard Aharon Heller started the night off with a driving bucket for JEC. From there the contest in the first period was a roller coaster, as JEC managed a 3-point lead ending the first quarter, 10–7 Thunder.
Aharon Heller started off the second period with a long trey to give JEC a 13–7 lead. Power forward Jake Goldberg followed that bomb with a smooth trey of his own (1 of 4 on the night) and JEC led 16–7.
Kushner scored on a three pointer, but Aharon Heller netted yet another trey and JEC built a 19–10 lead.
The Cobras had no die in them, and by the 3:39 mark in the second period, narrowed the JEC lead to 5 points, 21–17. That pattern continued through the remainder of the second period, and at the half, JEC was clinging to a 26–20 bulge, in what had become anybody’s game.
To start the second half, Kushner star center Gabe Plotsker scored on one of his classic turn-around jumpers in the paint, and the score was narrowed to 26–22 JEC. But that was as close at it got for Kushner. Junior shooting guard Hillel Glick buried a pull-up jumper in the paint, and that was followed by a floater from senior small forward Yair Kimmel and yet another Goldberg trey at the 5:48 point. Before you knew it, the JEC lead was back up to 33–22, and Kushner called time out.
For the rest of the period, the Cobras and Thunder traded baskets and at the end of the third period, JEC held on to a 9-point lead, 41–32.
In the final stanza, JEC went into its classic slow-down mode. The Thunder extended its defensive zone to take away the easy threes from the Cobras. Kushner in response wisely fed the hungry Plotsker on the low block, and he succeeded in scoring inside on a variety of moves, (14 in the second half, 6 in the fourth period). But JEC was equal to the task and matched Plotsker bucket for bucket, and Kushner could not narrow the lead.
Eventually, Kushner had to resort to fouling JEC to regain the ball. As Plotsker made inside scores for twos, JEC was converting its one and ones and then its bonus twos, to shoot 10–12 from the charity stripe in the fourth period (16–19 for the game).
That accuracy, coupled with a back breaking full court “bingo” score to break the Kushner press and a nifty layup from senior Jacob Winters, and JEC was able to cruise to a 59–45 win.
For JEC Aharon Heller had 19 points, Goldberg had 13 points and 4 treys, and Moshe Heller had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Kimmel tallied 7 points and Winters added 6 points.
For Kushner, Plotsker led all scorers with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
JEC vs. MTA. After being down 12–2 after 3 minutes, 17–4 after 6 minutes, 17–7 at the end of the first quarter, and 31–27 at the half, JEC tied the game at the 4:04 mark in the third quarter. They went ahead 47–43 to enter the final period, and won the game 67–62.
Jacob Winters shot 6–6 from the line in the fourth period. Moshe Heller shot 8–9 from the line in the first half plus 2 baskets to keep it reasonable in the first half.
Goldberg had 3 treys, Yair Kimmel scored 12 points, Aharon Heller 11, and Moshe Heller 17.
Moshe was injured with 2:03 to play in the fourth quarter and Winters came off the bench to hit the 2 technical fouls, as part of his clutch 6 foul shots. Even with Moshe out, JEC still held on to win and open its record to 6–5. MTA is now 5–6.
High School JV
Kushner vs. JEC. There was excitement in the air at JEC on Saturday night as the Kushner Cobras came to Elizabeth to battle the JEC Thunder JV, with playoff implications written all over this game.
With hundreds of vocal fans packing the sparkling JEC gym, the two teams started nervously and slowly. JEC’s star Center, sophomore Ethan Thurm, began the scoring for JEC with a bucket and under Ethan’s power umbrella, the Thunder built up an 11-6 lead at the end of the first period.
Thurm got into early foul trouble and in reply, Kushner found its venom in the second quarter, as the Cobras tightened the lead to only 4 for JEC. But Thurm was reinserted into the game and he immediately displayed his dominance with 12 points in the second period. Thurm was ably assisted by a trey from Josh Kraus, and big buckets from Jacob Feit, starting in his first high school game and Benny Gluck. With that combo, JEC led at the half 32-21.
It was in the third period that Thurm domination began truly to manifest itself most dramatically. A series of inside power plays and offensive rebounds enabled Thurm to score 11 points in the third quarter, while Krause and Feit deflected the ball to Kushner’s distraction in the new trapping zone JEC was employing. The end of the third period saw JEC with a 16 point bulge, 46-30.
With the contest under control, JEC took total control. Feit netted a trey, as did PG Dani Hess, and Krause added one of his own.
When the final horn sounded JEC had a 67-45 win. JEC played its entire bench, and Thurm had another huuuuge double double finishing with 34 points and 19 rebounds. Hess had 8 pts and 4 steals, Krause tallied 7 pts, and Feit also had 7 points.
JEC JV, with two games remaining, could make the playoffs by winning out.
Yeshivah of Flatbush vs. Yeshiva Shaarei Torah. On Wednesday January 2, the Flatbush 7th grade boys’ basketball team hosted Shaarei Torah, playing them for a second time in a week. The game started off similar to the last game, as a tight battle with the Falcons holding a narrow 7–5 lead after one quarter. By the second quarter the Falcons got their game together and pushed ahead to hold a 27–16 halftime lead. The Falcons outscored Shaarei Torah 32–15 in the second half and were able to secure a solid 59–31 victory and moved to a 6–0 record, in sole possession of first place.
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 co‑commissioner of the National Council of Young Israel basketball league. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.