In a game for the ages on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, the home team, #1 Magen David, held off a ferocious #2 Flatbush 19-point comeback to win 63-60. It was the fourth meeting between the two powerhouses this season, and the Warriors secured the regular season sweep and are now on the doorstep of locking up the #1 seed.
Flatbush came out in their typical man-to-man defense, while Magen David played a 2-3 zone, which they would stick with the entire game. After one quarter, the Warriors held a 12-10 advantage. MDY nearly ran away with the game in the second period, but Flatbush ended the half strong, and the Falcons went into the locker room down 30-22.
Flatbush came out in the second half in a 2-3 zone, but to no avail. Midway through the third, Magen David hit four three-pointers in a row, the first two courtesy of Moses Smeke, the third by Mark Sardar, and the last by Josh Chabbott, to extend their lead all the way up to 46-28. The Falcons called timeout, and with 3:20 remaining in the third, this contest looked all but over.
Flatbush proceeded to amp up the pressure, but the Warriors handled it reasonably well. To end the period, Smeke hit a very deep two and a three-pointer, as MDY held a 51-34 advantage after 3. In the closing seconds of the quarter, Sardar dislocated his finger, and was in great pain on the Magen David bench to start the fourth as Hatzalah attempted to reposition his digit.
The Warriors got a bucket to start the fourth, bringing their lead all the way up to 19, their largest of the game. Coach Dweck called timeout in order to rest his guys, as he was short-handed due to Sardar’s injury and foul trouble. Flatbush proceeded to enter into a full court press, and that’s when the tide turned.
With 5:28 left in the game, MDY big man Jack Haber fouled out. This was a huge loss, as he had arguably outplayed Flatbush star Beni Keda to that point, keeping him in check on the glass and in the scoring column. Sardar, whose finger had just been popped back in, checked back into the game, despite clearly being in pain. Keda proceeded to miss a free throw, but the Falcons got the board, and Keda dove to the basket, and off a dish he slammed it home. Down just 53-40, all of the momentum was with Flatbush.
In the ensuing few minutes, Magen would commit numerous live ball turnovers and make several poor decisions against Flatbush’s press. The Falcons continued to chop down on the Warriors’ lead. Sardar got to the line with four minutes to go and had to shoot his free throws one-handed. After making one of two, he checked out of the game, arguably a liability on the floor with MDY in the bonus. However, he would check back in just a minute later.
Flatbush cut it all the way down to 55-54, concluding a monster 20-2 run. Magen David would extend it out to 58-54, but with 1:20 to go, Ronnie Chaaya hit a deep trey from the top of the key. Flatbush employed extreme pressure, doubling every catch, but the Warriors finally handled the press with grace, and a Josh Chabbott feed to Jakey Arakanchi for a layup brought MDY up 60-57 with 33 seconds to go. Flatbush immediately came down the floor and Isaac Cooper hit a long, left corner 3 to tie it, and the fans went berserk. Then, on the final possession of the game, Moses Smeke went iso, and drained a stepback three from the right wing as the horn sounded, sending the gym into pandemonium.
Magen David as a team finished a spectacular 9/14 from three-point range. Smeke himself was 5/7 from 3, along with five rebounds and four assists, as his efficient shooting and game-winner more than made up for a couple of errors he made during Flatbush’s frenzied comeback. PG Phillip Sherr finished with 10 assists, as he set up his teammates for buckets while passing up scoring opportunities. For Flatbush, Cooper led the way with 20 points. The Falcons conclude their regular season slate 12-2, their only two losses coming at the hands of the Warriors. MDY sits at 10-1, and needs to win two of their three remaining contests (2x against reigning champs North Shore and their finale vs. HAFTR) to lock up the #1 seed.
Video Credits for Keda dunk: @ilanakr_videography on IG