Epic basketball season closed with heartbreak loss at Sarachek

Photos Courtesy of Yeshiva University via Flickr

Eitan Rothman, Sports Editor

When the final buzzer sounded at the Red Sarachek Tournament March 22, it marked the end of a historic season for Firehawk basketball.

It may have ended in heartbreak, but the season had surpassed predictions, with a championship in the Yaffee Tournament in Houston in November and a surprise fourth-place finish at YU’s Sarachek invitational in New York.

“It was by far one of the most intense tournaments I have ever played in,” co-captain Yossi Halpert reflected about Sarachek in an e-mail. “We proved everyone wrong walking in as the sixth seed and coming out fourth. I know we deserved to win and am confident that we will win the trophy next year. I am just sad I will not be on the team. Overall, very happy and proud of the way we played.”

The Red Sarachek Tournament is a 20-team invitational tournament that Yeshiva University puts on each year, considered by many to be the premiere Jewish high school basketball tournament in America. Some teams are only invited twice every three years.

Shalhevet went into the tournament seeded sixth and beat 11th-seeded Weinbaum Yeshiva of Boca Raton in the first round – even though their flight into New York had been rerouted through Philadelphia causing them to arrive at their hotel in Teaneck, N.J. at 2 a.m. the night before.

They moved on to upset the third-seed Frisch Academy of New Jersey in the Tier I quarterfinal.
On Sunday March 25 the Firehawks played their cross-town rival YULA in the Tier I semifinal game.

The Firehawks led for most of the game. The team was up three with six seconds left, but due to a controversial three-point foul called on Jojo Fallas as YULA player Matthew Reich chucked up a desperation three-pointer and the game went into overtime.

As the clock wound down on overtime, the Firehawks were up two when Reich hit a contested jumper to put the Panthers up one. When the buzzer sounded the Firehawks had lost, 53-48.

“[The Firehawks] played an outstanding game that they ended up on the wrong end of,” said YULA Captain Jack Gindi. “When I tell people about the game I tell them that we were outplayed for 30 out of 36 minutes that day and we got out by the skin of our teeth.”

Coming off the devastating loss, the Firehawks fell to MTA of Manhattan at 8:30 in the morning March 26.

“It was tough not to come home with the championship,” said co-captain Eitan Spitzer. “We played our hearts out and left everything we had on the court. The Shalhevet community should be very proud of what was accomplished.”