As the regular seasons wound down for both TABC and Ramaz, each team found themselves at 10-2 with two matchups against each other remaining. They were to face off six days apart, with the head-to-head victor securing the #1 seed in the western conference. Ultimately, TABC was able to secure a sweep, winning the two games by a combined seven points. Ramaz, via Frisch’s loss vs. SAR and a head-to-head tiebreaker from an early season victory over the Cougars, clinched the #2 seed and, just like the Storm, received a first round bye in the MYHSAL playoffs.
The first matchup was held on January 31st, as TABC traveled to NYC. The ensuing battle, frenetic from beginning to end, saw the lead fluctuate wildly, with the Storm clinching a narrow 50-48 victory.
The game began promisingly as TABC efficiently established a 7-0 lead, thanks to a 3 from Ayden Gurin and two buckets from Yonah Mandel. However, this advantage would swiftly vanish, thanks to a whopping four threes from Ramaz’s Nate Sugar. Matching layups from Ramaz’s Eden Bracha and TABC’s Eyal Kinderlehrer would end the quarter with the Rams up 14-9.
The second quarter would be even more dismaying for the Storm. Four points from Bracha, another 3 from Sugar, an and-1 from Milan Kushner, and a reverse layup from Isaac Ohayon widened Ramaz’s advantage to fourteen. Gurin and Charlie Simmons answered back with treys, but TABC would go into the intermission down 28-17.
Four quick points from Ramaz to start the third put TABC on their heels, but the boys from Teaneck stormed back. Several buckets from Gurin (including three 3s), Kinderlehrer, Simmons, and Mandel pushed TABC to a remarkable 24-5 run, and the Storm would head into the final period up 41-39.
The climactic fourth quarter descended into mayhem, with both teams fighting tooth-and-nail to top the other. Kinderlehrer hit a layup, but Sugar proceeded to net his sixth triple of the night, making it a one-point game. After two layups from Ohayon and a layup and free throw from Kinderlehrer, things were knotted at 46-all.
Both teams would struggle to break ahead, until an exceptional trey from TABC’s Dovid Saks broke the drought and put the Storm up three. Ramaz responded with a Kushner bucket, but couldn’t find the bottom of the hoop again. A free throw from Kinderlehrer with 7.5 seconds left and one final stop iced the Storm’s triumphant win.
Sugar led the scoring with 18 points, while Gurin and Kinderlehrer were not far behind with 17 and 16 points, respectively. All TABC had to do was either win or lose by two or fewer points in the rematch, and the one-seed would be theirs.
The next week in Teaneck, TABC won again, 53-48, albeit in vastly different fashion, as the Storm nearly led coast-to-coast. The contest amassed a large turnout, with the rowdy audience pushing TABC to victory.
The night began with TABC creating a comfortable advantage, entering the second quarter up 14-6. This lead would quickly shrink, as the Rams garnered five points in short order, and after a 3 was drained by Gurin, Ohayon and Ramaz’s Bobby Sigoura scored five more. Kushner would match a bucket from TABC’s Bentzion Keiser, and Ohayon nailed a 3, pushing Ramaz into the lead by two. The Storm responded though, as Gurin hit another trey, his fourth of the half. With a Keiser layup in the waning seconds of the period, the Storm entered halftime up 24-21.
The third quarter saw the two teams fighting back-and-forth, with Bracha and Kinderlehrer scoring eight points each. However, a slightly more balanced TABC attack resulted in the Storm being up 39-33 after three.
The game’s entire momentum screeched to a halt in the fourth, as both coaches utilized all of their timeouts. The Rams repeatedly fouled in an attempt to extend the game, but their efforts would prove insufficient, as the Storm executed on their free throws. As the final buzzer of the regular season sounded, confetti cannons burst and mosh pits ensued as TABC fans stormed the court in celebration of their 11th consecutive victory.
Gurin led the TABC attack with 15 points, all on 3-pointers, while Kinderlehrer had 13 points, and Mandel contributed 11. Bracha accumulated an impressive 17 points for Ramaz, while Ohayon notched 12. As the postseason is already on the horizon, both teams anxiously await the first round results to see what lies in store for them.