On Saturday night, January 6, exactly two weeks after last facing off, the varsity TABC Storm took on the Frisch Cougars once more in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. Students on both sides flocked to the TABC gym in large numbers to passionately cheer on their schools. TABC had narrowly won the last game 40-36, and with both teams sitting on two losses, a Storm win would put them in position to control their own destiny for the #1 seed in the western conference. The resulting duel, low-scoring yet no less thrilling throughout, saw TABC hanging onto a small lead, momentarily faltering, yet ultimately coming back out on top by a razor-thin margin of 34-32.
Right off the bat, senior Charlie Simmons scored five points for TABC, establishing a 5-0 lead early on for the Storm. Frisch swiftly caught back up, with seniors Ezra Berkowitz, Noah Fischman, and Josh Markovitz each scoring, but an and-one from TABC junior Eyal Kinderlehrer mixed into the Cougar run brought the first quarter to a close with the Storm up 8-6.
Both teams would hit their stride in the second quarter, with TABC getting layups from Kinderlehrer and Simmons, as well as from Eitan Sulemanoff, thanks to a phenomenal, around-the-hoop assist by senior Ayden Gurin. Additionally, Sulemanoff and Kinderlehrer scored three total foul shots. For Frisch, Markowitz went 2-for-2 at the foul line while Berkowitz, senior Roni Heumann, and junior Max Schachter would each hit layups. After Frisch senior James Dyckman and Sulemanoff traded 3s, TABC would enter intermission holding onto a precarious 20-17 advantage.
The intense back-and-forth of the game would only heighten in the second half as Frisch began to gain momentum. Though junior Yonah Mandel garnered a 2-pointer for the Storm, the Cougars would hit four more foul shots, and a layup by Fischman pushed them to their first lead of the game, 23-22. A layup by Sulemanoff brought TABC back on top, but Heumann and Schachter both got buckets to close the third with Frisch up by three.
The audience, glued to their seats, waited to see if Frisch could hold TABC off or if the Storm would come from behind. Re-energized, TABC returned from their huddle more motivated than ever, quickly surging forward and tying the game up with a 3 from senior Yaakov Salamon. After a foul shot by Fischman, Salamon would bag yet another 3, as would Sulemanoff, who also hit a free throw.
Having rapidly regained the upper hand, it was now TABC’s turn to maintain their lead. However, with buckets by Schachter and Fischman, the Cougars decreased the deficit to a mere difference of two. With twenty-four seconds left on the clock, Frisch, in possession, called a time-out. The crowd, electrified, watched as TABC’s defense held the Cougars at bay as the time dwindled down to zero, solidifying yet another Storm victory.
Sulemanoff was the game’s leading scorer with 12 points; Simmons and Kinderlehrer each finished with 7. Fischman led Frisch with 7 points. TABC and Ramaz now each control their own destiny for the 1 seed in the west, while Frisch has a sole game remaining against SAR and is hoping for chaos.