Ohr Yisroel faced off against Waterbury in Lubavitch on the Palisades on Sunday in a crucial game in their push for the MYHSAL playoffs. The Flames entered at 6-5 with three games to go, and a win would put them on the brink of a playoff appearance for the first time in program history. Waterbury, however, was no pushover opponent, as three of the Wolfpack’s losses had been by seven or fewer points to teams ranked in the top 8 of the Yeshiva League Pass Power Rankings. Despite this, Ohr Yisroel established their dominance in the first half, utilizing a 31-2 run to close the half to pull away from their opponents, and ultimately won by a final score of 66-49.
Waterbury got out to a 5-0 lead behind a 3-pointer from Tzviki Neiman and a Hudy Kalish steal and layup. However, Ohr Yisroel responded back with a strong 12-0 run to close the first quarter. Ezra Stern got the Flames on the board with a free throw, and then star Reuven Rozehzadeh rattled off nine consecutive points. Shmoozie Rosen closed the period off strongly for Ohr with a bucket of his own.
The Wolfpack, now in a seven-point hole, looked to respond. Following Rozehzadeh’s splitting a pair from the line, Kalish scored again, bringing Waterbury to within six, 13-7. Little did they know at the time, this would be the last bucket the Wolfpack would score all half. Ohr remained patient against Waterbury’s 2-3 zone, and were able to generate good looks off of cuts into the zone and high post touches. The Flames proceeded to go on a remarkable 18-0 run to close the quarter, including 11 more points from Rozehzadeh, and headed into the locker room up 31-7. At halftime, Rozehzadeh already had compiled 21 points!
Waterbury could have just rolled over and given up, but to their immense credit, they kept fighting out of the intermission. A Meir Kapenstein three to start off the half got the Wolfpack back into the scoring column and reignited their confidence. After Ohr went on a 4-0 run, Waterbury responded with a 7-0 run behind four points from Neiman. Later in the quarter, Neiman would hit a couple more twos, one of which resulted in a three-point play, as he tallied 9 points in the period. Waterbury outscored Ohr in the quarter 18-13 and cut the deficit to 19 after three.
After a couple of Ohr buckets to start the fourth, Waterbury made a run at it. JoJo Alfasi reeled off back-to-back-to-back threes, and suddenly, the Wolfpack only trailed 48-14. However, Rosen answered with a huge 3 to stem the Waterbury momentum. The boys from Connecticut continued to fight, but Ohr Yisroel’s tremendous first half performance made a comeback impossible. Rosen slammed the door shut with a steal and emphatic game-ending, two-handed dunk, and the Flames emerged victorious, 66-49.
Rozehzadeh had a remarkable game, as he finished with 29 points. Alfasi and Neiman led the way for Waterbury, as the two finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Ohr Yisroel will conclude the regular season @ Ramaz on January 16th and @ Hillel after winter break, likely needing one win to clinch their first ever playoff berth.