As the playoffs have continued the stakes have only been raised and each team has been up for the challenge. This past week saw only two games take place, but their end results were crucial in seeding the final four teams in yeshiva league basketball.
The quarter-final drama started in the Upper-East side as the Ramaz Rams hosted the Magen David Warriors. The first quarter showed the Rams with all the momentum taking an easy eight point lead, but the Warriors traveled from Brooklyn with all their fans and were determined to make this game one to remember. The Warriors did just that as they went on a scoring rampage in part of a 17-9 run to tie the game at the half.
The Warriors looked like the team from “the Golden State” who are also dubbed the Warriors as their offense continued to explode in the third. The tenacious paint play of Asher Melamid and court control from Allie Dweck gave the Warriors a four point cushion going into the final frame, but the Ramaz Rams were willing to do whatever it took to defend their homecourt. In potentially their final eight minutes of the season, Rams star Julius Rubinstein lit up the gym. He displayed the ice in veins by consistently hitting clutch free throws including a pair in the final minute when it mattered most. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the rim appeared almost capped on their side of the court, missing most of their free throws in crunch time. When the buzzer sounded Ramaz was the victor with a final score of 51-43.
With three of the four semi-finalists set, the Frisch Cougars took on the DRS Wildcats in a packed Greenhouse Gymnasium. The Wildcats entered the game on a winning streak that dated back to mid-November, while the Cougars didn't really play their best basketball until late in the season, but couldn't have picked a better time to heat up and this quarter-final matchup showed why.
The first half was a story of runs by both teams, with no side taking full advantage. The Wildcats defensively came out in their full court trap, which proved successful against the SAR Sting earlier in the season, but with this strategy almost anticipated, the Cougars were able to work the ball into the corners to find open players for easy opportunities. This proved to be vital in the final minutes of the first half, as the Cougars jumped ahead on a 14-0 run to take a ten point lead into the break.
Multiple clutch shots from Alex Zakheim and Jonny Levine helped add on to the Cougar’s lead, but they weren't about to cruise to the victory yet. The Wildcat guard trio of Ari Ivry, Ezra Dubin and Isaac Solomon did everything they could to guide the Wildcats back into the game. After a clutch three pointer by Dubin with under a minute to go the Cougars lead was cut to just one, and the momentum appeared to be on the side of the Wildcats. The following set of possessions proved the importance of defensive as no team scored, as well as the usefulness of a home court crowd, spirited by Yeshiva University Macabee superfan and mother of a potential NBA draft prospect, Laurel Turell got the Greenhouse on their feet as the game came down to the final possession. Following a big time block by Cougar’s center Ben Haber, the Wildcats inbounded the ball under their own basket with seconds remaining in their season. With a clear look at the basket the Wildcats put up one final shot, but unfortunately it wouldn't sink as the Frisch Cougars pulled off the road upset to advance to the semi-finals.
Congratulations to the Magen David Warriors and DRS Wildcats on amazing regular seasons, but their stories are not complete yet as both teams will have the privilege to compete in the annual Sarachek Tournament later this month. As for the victors of the quarter finals matchups, the Cougars will travel to Ramaz, while the SAR Sting will host the TABC Storm.
Make sure to check this section weekly for all updates and the latest news from around the Yeshiva League. Also make sure to check out Yeshiva League Pass on Instagram and their website for nightly updates on varsity basketball and hockey.
Ikey Gutlove is the Jewish Link sports intern. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interest in contributing to this column by providing stories and updates from any high school athletic teams.