After nearly a year and a half hiatus, the much awaited return of Yeshiva League basketball has arrived. This season will be filled with all new players with no prior varsity experience so fans, coaches and players will all be in for an exciting outcome of events. The Jewish Link Sports Intern in collaboration with Yeshiva League Pass worked to formulate an in depth preview from each western conference team of what we can expect for the upcoming season.
Ramaz - The Ramaz Rams are excited to get back on the court and have high aspirations for the 2021/22 season. The Rams are led by the deadly duo of Julius Rubinstein and Cy Aminzade. They are looking to get off to a strong start and are led by a senior heavy team. They bring a lot of experience and size and are looking to thrive under new coach Scott Ferguson.
JEC - Representing Elizabeth New Jersey, JEC is back for another season. Being coached by Veteran basketball guru Avi Borenstein, the team is looking to bounce back after having no season last year. Senior guard Akiva Hess will be tasked with running the offense, and leading the team, while sharing the back court with Elisha Jooyandah and Junior Yosef Heller. Between the tenacious skills of this backcourt trio along with the play of Senior big man Yehuda Speyer, this team is looking to make a playoff run. JEC looks forward to being a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season.
TABC - Entering the Fall 2021-2022 Varsity Basketball season, the TABC Storm, led by Coach Oz, are one of the league's favorites to take home the hardwood at the end of the season. Led by Seniors Eli Saks, Harry Orlinsky, and Yis Kaminetsky, the Storm have one of the most talented two-way rosters up and down the lineup. The depth of the Storm won't go unnoticed through sharpshooter Shmuel Yablok, talented Junior Netanel Benloulou, defensive stud Netanel Eckman, speedster Joey Zelig, and 6th man Joseph Mann. After a strong 2020 season where the JV Storm went 8-2, reaching the semifinals before the season being cut short due to the pandemic, winning the Grunbaum Tournament in Montreal, the now transformed Varsity Storm have been waiting to finally take home TABC's first Varsity basketball championship in the school's history. Entering the season with high hopes, the Storm will travel to LA in an attempt for a back-to-back Globerman tournament win. Watch out for the Storm, as they are a force to be reckoned with on the court.
Ohr Yisroel - Ohr Yisroel in its inaugural season are excited to be joining the league. Playing with mostly sophomores and Juniors the team is excited to make some noise in its first season. Being coached by Coach Lenny Friedman who has previously won an 8th grade championship coaching Kushner and a JV championship coaching Frisch is now looking to capture his first varsity one with Ohr Yisroel
MTA - The MTA Lions varsity basketball team has patiently waited a long time to get back on the court. Now that wait is over. With coaches Ushie Selevan and Mark Weisel returning Varsity Basketball at MTA, the Lions look to take what's theirs this season; The championship trophy. The Lions look to be at maximum strength this year with a powerful big 3 consisting of Point guard Abie Schwartz, Forward Dani Wolk, and Forward/Center Donny Book. Alongside them, star junior guards Gavriel Rudman and Ezra Halpert look to contribute heavily on both the offensive and defensive sides. Seniors Eli Sheer, Yehuda Emerson and Aron Skoczylas highlight the deep bench in addition to Preseason “Rookie of the year” candidate Yosef Shmuel (‘22). This team's skill won’t go unnoticed with the expectations to finish strong with a championship banner hanging in the rafters. The Lions are looking forward to their opening night on motzei Shabbos, 11/6 at 8:45 when they will play JEC.
SAR - As the Sting prepare to take the court for the first time in a year in a half, they face a heavy challenge as their brand new home court was flooded in Hurricane Ida. Their senior stars, Nitty Hyman, Noam Siegel, Moshe Spergel, and Max Wolf will try and win SAR’s first basketball championship in recent memory.
Their Junior stars, most importantly Akiva Schanzer, come out hungry with the addition of Benny Neuwirth. Neuwirth was an SAR academy lifer, but went to TABC in 9th grade. He’s back at his home now and ready to fight for the title with his long time brothers, Jonah Sokol, Andrew Helft and Itai Berkowitz.
SAR’s combined star power from their seniors and juniors will help them win the title this year and earn what they deserved a year and a half ago.
Heschel - The Heat come into this season with a tantalizing starting five. With four seniors and one junior starting, they’re definitely going to be a threat come playoff time. An elite backcourt including Ben Eskenazi, Isaiah Sokolic, and Charles Fine will get teams scrambling on D, and MVP candidate Ethan Nessim will simply obliterate anyone in his way. Michael “The Messiah” Barak will also be catching lobs all season with his towering height. Behind great bench depth and Coach Pick: one of the great coaches of our time, as well as highly touted Assistant Coach Flug, the Heat are a dreaded matchup for any team in the Yeshiva League. A word of advice for the rest of the league: Be Early.
Frisch - The Frisch Cougars come into this year with a very talented team. Led by star seniors Jonny Levine and big man Ben Haber, Frisch is looking to take home the champs this year. Their team has great juniors as well with Alex Zackiem running the point and Michael Green dominating the post. Frisch looks forward to making a deep playoff run this year.
Kushner - The Kushner Cobras are coming back energized and with a vengeance after a devastating loss the last time they played as a team, nearly two years ago. Having a twenty point deficit to Hillel late in their final game of 2020, it had seemed that the season would end on a terrible note. But with a fourth quarter push led by freshman Az Foger, the Cobras were on a roll late in the game. They ended up falling short to the clock, but optimism is now coursing through the veins of each and every player. This is not a Cobras team that the Yeshiva League is used to seeing. Four of Kushner’s top players were not on the team two years ago. Monstrous 6’7 center, Ben Huppert and shifty guard, Jacob Shapiro who both played for varsity in their sophomore year are returning to play with their peers and lead them to victory. Sammy Maryles is another addition, via transfer from Wagner High School, whose talents have propelled him straight to the starting lineup. The Cobras are also encouraged to see that Zachary Younger, who’s been on injured reserve throughout his high school career, is finally healthy and eager to play. These four amazing talents join MItchell Liebov as the team’s senior leadership. Sammy Artman and Az Foger are two juniors who are also gearing up to have key roles as soon as the season opener. This diverse lineup makes for an unpredictable and unscoutable team, whose players are confident they can go all the way.
Hillel - During their last full Yeshiva League season, the Hillel Heat took the league by storm. Their chemistry was on full display on the court as they went on a deep playoff run, which eventually came to a close when they lost to the DRS Wildcats in the quarter finals. This season the Heat are looking for a repeat, but this time with an entirely new roster. With a backcourt duo of Eric Cytryn and Max Rishty the Heat will look to facilitate the ball with ease hoping to set big man Brandon Magurdumov for some easy finishes by the basket. The X factor of Heat will likely be the performance of junior swingman Elliot Braha. Braha has a similar play style to the Heat’s leader of their 2019-20 season, Morris Tobias, being capable of scoring from everywhere on the court in a Kevin Durant-esque manner. The Heat are a roster with a minimal amount of upperclassmen, with only four of their thirteen players seniors, so it’ll be an interesting sight to see what the Heat will have in store this season.
With 10 promising rosters, the Western Conference of the Yeshiva League has the potential to be a powerhouse with many great upcoming matchups. Stay tuned for an eastern Conference preview next week as well as weekly updates on each Yeshiva League team.
Article by Ikey Gutlove, Writer for Yeshiva League Pass and sports Intern for the Jewish Link.
Thank you to this week's contributors: Freddy Dresdner-Kushner, the Heschel Heat varsity Instagram, Elan Lurie, Natan Solomon and all those who wish to remain anonymous. This article as well as all Yeshiva League updates can be found on the Yeshiva League Pass Instagram, Facebook or website.
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