Last Wednesday, following North Shore's banner ceremony for their 2022-2023 Varsity Basketball and 2021-2022 Junior Varsity Basketball Championship seasons, the Lions were looking to remain on track in a must-win game against Waterbury. Little did those in the packed gym know at the time that this would be a historic Yeshiva League contest.
This game was back-and-forth from the jump, as no team took a double-digit lead at any point. This was a battle of outstanding offensive execution on both ends, as each team was able to generate easy layups. The stars on each side shone from the tip as Waterbury’s Hudi Kalish had eight first quarter points and North Shore’s Jordan Zarka had 4. The opening period concluded with the Wolfpack on top, 9-6.
North Shore seemed primed to take full control of the game in the second, but a couple of mistakes allowed Waterbury to stay in it. Zarka continued to make his presence felt by adding seven more points, bringing his first half total to 11. A couple of layups from Ben Abizadeh and a 3 from Jonah Carmili helped North Shore head into the intermission up 20-17.
The third quarter looked like a repeat of the first half, as practically all offense on both ends was being generated in the paint. Zarka continued to get whatever he wanted, pushing his points total up to 20 heading into the fourth. The third quarter ended with the Lions up 36-31.
Things finally began to heat up in the fourth quarter of this well-fought game. The enthusiastic Waterbury fans went crazy as Meir Kapenstein hit a massive 3 to give the Wolfpack a 39-36 lead with four minutes to go, ending an 8-0 run. Jonah Carmili answered right back with a three of his own to knot up the score. With under 90 seconds remaining, both sides began hitting huge shot after huge shot: Kalish hit a layup, followed by another Carmili 3, followed by another Kalish layup! With under 20 seconds to go, down by one, North Shore missed an open three which forced them to play the foul game with Kalish, who went on to hit both free throws, giving Waterbury a 45-42 lead with 11 seconds to go. On North Shore’s final possession of regulation, Zarka caught the ball a few feet behind the 3-point line, heaved it up and BOOM! He tied the game! Waterbury got a relatively good look to win the game, but didn’t capitalize, and the game headed into overtime.
The first four minutes and 40 seconds of overtime went smoothly for North Shore, as they went up 51-48 with the ball in their possession. A risky cross court pass by Eli Bokhour was then picked off by Jojo Alfasi who got an easy layup to cut North Shore’s lead to 1. Bokhour then got a chance to redeem himself at the line and he went 1/2, pushing the Lions' lead back up to 2. With 1.4 seconds left, Waterbury had a miracle of their own. Tzviki Neiman caught the ball on the wing off a Kapenstein inbound, turned, fired a 20-footer, and banked it in!
Now in double overtime, Carmili had enough. He hit two colossal threes to put the Lions in control. Late in the period, drama struck for a third time when the Lions, up 57-54, turned the ball over on an inbound. Luckily, on what would be the last play of the game, Kalish missed a good look which would have sent the game to triple OT, and North Shore survived, improving to 3-5 and keeping their playoff and three-peat dreams alive.
Zarka had a monster game and finished with 24 points and 20 rebounds. Carmili notched an excellent stat line of 18 points (on six made threes) and five boards. Kalish recorded a game-high 29 points in the losing effort for Waterbury. This contest was really one for the Yeshiva League history books.
Stat Credit: Gaby Rabanipour (NSHA '24)