Due to the countless buzzer beaters, jaw-dropping highlight plays and action packed matchups, one may think the Yeshiva League season is nearing the playoffs, but in actuality it is still just getting underway. Here is an update from all that has taken place and a preview for what's to come in the Western Conference of Yeshiva League Varsity Basketball.
The Frisch Cougars are once again a favorite for the title, being the last undefeated team in the Yeshiva League. They are led by the unstoppable trio of Jonny Levine, Ben Haber and Alex Zakheim(who is making a big push for top underclassmen) who are all capable of scoring twenty plus points on any given night as well as contributing on the boards and the defensive end of the court. They are complemented well by impressive performances from underclassmen Michael Green and Isaac Schiffman who continue to consistently contribute where needed. The Cougars have only played in one nail biter matchup where they came out as the victors in an overtime thriller while hosting TABC. Frisch has appeared to be unstoppable so far, but with a challenging schedule up ahead, including visiting TABC in early January, the possibilities are endless.
Throughout the past few years TABC basketball has been a Yeshiva League cornerstone, consistently appearing towards the top the standings and making noise in the playoffs, this year will most likely be a similar occurrence. The Storm came out hot in the Glouberman Tournament bringing back the hardware to Bergen County and have followed up with a stellar star to the regular season as well. TABC’s success so far has been greatly contributed to the depth of their roster. Between a guard duo of defensive mastermind Eli Saks and offensive sparkplug Shmuel Yablok, who leads all TABC scorers with a season high of 26 points against HAFTR on opening night, the Storm are relentless in the backcourt. The intimidation doesn't stop there, as the Storm round out their starting five with several forwards who are capable of finishing in the paint and locking down their opposition between Harry Orlinsky, Netanel Benloulu and Yis Kaminetzky. Additionally, Coach Oz has the privilege of having an extremely capable bench who are able to come into the game at any point and make an immediate impact, whether it being forwards Netanel Eckman and Joseph Mann or guard Joey Zelig. With a tough schedule ahead, including facing off against the top seeded Flatbush Falcons of the Eatsern Conference, will TABC’s depth continue to lead them to victory?
Despite being the third seed in the Western Conference, the SAR Sting do not get enough recognition. Similar to the Frisch Cougars, the Sting also have key underclassmen contributors. This was noticeable right out of the games during their second game of the season, as Juniors Akiva Scahnzer (24 points) and Benny Neuwrith (16 points) led the way in a thirteen point victory over Heschel. Along with the superstar juniors are tremendous senior talents including Netanel Hyman who has reached the twenty point mark twice this season, in victories against MTA and JEC, as well as forward Noam Siegel who consistently makes his presence felt. There has been some optimism for the Sting as they came back from a trip to the Greenhouse empty handed with a 23 point loss to DRS. Yet when in their very next game they blew out the Flatbush Falcons to give them their first loss of the season. The Sting will have to continue to impress in order to make a deep run as they face off against TABC and Frisch each twice, as well as a promising Ramaz team.
Last time we saw the Ramaz Rams, they were led by senior superstar Spencer Rubinstein, but this year we have the privilege of watching his younger brother, Julius, and witnessing what he along with his teammates are capable of doing. The Rams started the season getting some experience and working on chemistry at the Glouberman Tournament, and despite not winning the tournament, the Rams became aware of what they needed to do in order to make a deep regular season run. The Rams have started out strong being led by seniors Cy Aminzadeh, Julius Rubenstein and big man Caleb Rosenfeld who towers over almost all opposition in his nearly six and a half foot stature. With only three games remaining against teams over .500 (including MTA who they already beat once) the Rams are capable of ending the regular season with a high playoff seed, but only time will tell.
The MTA Lions have been plagued with what some may call the Lakers syndrome, not due to how both the Lions and Lakers have a history of success, but rather due to their injury plague this season. The Lions are just now recovering from injuries to big men Dani Wolk and Donny Book, who are both present at all times on both ends of the court. Despite having a winning record, the Lions are at -3 point advantage, but the guard trio of Abie Schwartz, Ezra Halpert and leading scorer Gavriel Rudman have potential to make this change. If they continue to search for good looks on the perimeter as well as feeding their big men in the paint on a consistent basis, the deficit will be erased. On the brighter side, the Lions defense has certainly been present with their opposition scoring under 30 twice in their first five games. In order for the Lions to have success and make some noise in the playoffs they will need to be blessed with health and an uprising in offensive production.
The Heschel Heat and Hillel Heat might have a similarity in their namesake, but the comparison doesn't stop there. Hillel has shown strides of potential by putting up strong fights against Frisch (losing in overtime) and a close battle with TABC. Heschel has had a similar journey, with key matchups against Ramaz and SAR coming down to the wire as well. In their lone matchup to date, Hillel slid past Heshchel with a four point victory, but will meet once again towards the end of the season. If both versions of the Heat get continued offensive outputs from forwards Ethan Nessim(Heschel) and Elliot Braha(Hillel), when the playoffs come around the Heat will be blazing to the finish line.
To close out the Western Conference are Kushner, Ohr Yisrael and JEC. All three of these teams have started out slow, but what's important to note is there is still plenty of time left in the season, so success can be possible. Additionally, these three teams all have in common that their schedules aren't too difficult giving them each a possibility for greatness. The Kushner Cobras, JEC Thunder and Ohr Yisrael cannot be ruled out yet, and it wouldn't be a surprise if some of these teams, if not all are present when the playoffs arise.
This upcoming week will feature some quality matchups including the TABC Storm visiting the Flatbush Falcons, DRS Wildcats hosting the Frisch Cougars and will conclude with SAR hosting TABC in an inner conference matchup.
Stay tuned for updates and news from Yeshiva League varsity action by following Yeshiva League Pass on Instagram or their website. Additionally, there will be weekly updates in the Jewish Link. Perspective writers or contributor are desired and if interested please contact Jewish Link Sports Intern Ikey Gutlove at Ikey40gutlove@gmail.com