Dubbed as a "business trip" by senior guard Harry Orlinsky, the TABC Storm headed off across the country in conquest of taking the 7th Annual Steve Glouberman Tournament championship for back-to-back years. Every year, Shalhevet hosts Yeshiva League teams from all over the country to honor the life of Steve Glouberman Z" L. Throughout the four day weekend in Los Angeles, California, players had the opportunity to create lasting friendships and interact through competitive basketball. However, everyone's common goal is to take the renowned Glouberman Tournament championship back to their respective schools. This year's boys tournament featured teams such as The Frisch School (Paramus, NJ), Berman Hebrew Academy (Rockville, MD), HAFTR Hebrew Academy (Lawrence, NY), Yeshivah of Flatbush (Flatbush, NY), Northwest Yeshiva High School (Seattle, Washington), Hebrew Academy of Miami (Miami Beach, FL), Ramaz (New York, NY), Torah Academy of Bergen County (Teaneck,NJ), YULA High School (Los Angeles, CA), and finally, the hosts of the tournament, Shalhevet (Los Angeles, CA).
After a long flight, the TABC Storm settled into their hosts' houses before heading off to one of the finer Mexican-style restaurants in LA, Lenny's Casita on Pico, to enjoy some team bonding and good eats. As the TABC Athletic Director, Rav Yitz Rabovsky, graciously said, “Lenny’s was awesome and I’m very glad we didn’t have to play a game right after that. It was also great seeing everyone hanging out as we continued the tradition of no phones during team meals on tournaments.” When the meal concluded, the TABC players went back to their houses for a good night's sleep, preparing to face off against Berman Hebrew Academy at 9:00 AM the following morning.
As the sun was still rising in Los Angeles, the Storm had already started their first matchup. Back in TABC, excitement was palpable in the air as students from all over TABC headed to Room 10 to watch the game and, of course, to "pack the pit." As the TABC students cheered on, they watched the Storm's team effort on both sides of the ball as they cruised to a 55-35 win. Later that afternoon, the Storm took down the HAFTR Hawks, 69-49, in their second twenty-point win of the day. After these two commanding wins, everyone realized that the Storm was a force to be reckoned with.
The Storm was named the three seed and faced the Flatbush Falcons in the first round of the playoffs. Led by seniors Yis Kaminetzky, Eli Saks, Harry Orlinsky, and Shmuel Yablok, the Storm edged out the Falcons in their closest battle yet, 56-50, and would move on to the semi-finals to face the Frisch Cougars on Saturday night.
Shalhevet hosted a beautiful Shabbaton, enabling the players to relax and discuss the previous games from the days before. As senior Joey Zelig put it, "Shabbos was an incredible time, and I loved the achdus of all the players present for the tournament." As Shabbos came to an end, the Storm knew that they had to finish what they had started
Tipping off Semis and Championship Saturday night was perhaps the most anticipated game of the tournament between the long-time rivals of Frisch and TABC. Already 11 PM on the East Coast, the TABC fans were excited to watch the Storm look to take down the Cougars. The game went back-and-forth, and it was clear that the game was going to come down to the final few plays. Luckily for the Storm, the Cougars had no answer to star Junior Netanel Benloulou's offensive onslaught in the second half leading the Storm to a massive 62-52 win, and sending the Frisch Cougars packing back to Paramus.
On the other side of the bracket, the hosts, Shalhevet, faced off against the Ramaz Rams. Through a hard-fought battle, Shalhevet prevailed over Ramaz 56-47, punching them a ticket to face off the scorching hot TABC Storm. After TABC’s massive win over the Frisch School, senior Yis Kaminetzky recalls, “There was no way anybody was going to beat us that night. Our team chemistry was on another level." As the pregame introductions began, the time was approximately 2:00 AM on the East Coast. After the TABC's impressive 4-0 record in the tournament, the Shalhevet Firehawks were the Storm's final test. With the Shalhevet fans packed into their home gym for the championship, the Storm remained focused on their final task. From the tip-off, the Storm immediately dominated on both sides of the floor. Early in the game, senior guard Shmuel Yablok found his rhythm knocking down a couple of big threes and tacking on a few from the charity stripe. On the defensive side, the Storm's efforts were stifling, forcing turnover after turnover leading to a bunch of easy baskets for Netanel Benloulou (16 points) and Yis Kaminetzky (17 points). As the clock ticked down to zero, the TABC Storm had finally completed the ultimate goal of their “business trip,” defeating Shalhevet by a score of 75-51. When Coach Oz was asked about his team's incredible efforts, he said, "We have a lot of really good individual players. We challenge the guys to sacrifice their stats and play as a team. That's not easy. We have some juniors that probably could start at other schools. At this school, they don't get a lot of minutes. I'm really proud of how all 16 kids played for each other. That's why we were successful. We play for each other on offense and defense. When we make mistakes, we pick each other up. This group of boys has amazing chemistry."
Congratulations to Coach Oz's TABC Storm on taking the hardware back to Bergen County along with tournament MVP Yis Kaminetzky and 1st Team All-Tournament winners, Shmuel Yablok and Netanel Benloulou.
Written by Natan Solomon.
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Pic Creds: Yitz Rabuvsky