CIF Final: A rare dark moment as Firehawks fall to RHP Huskies

GUARDING: Ari Wachtenheim tries to stop Rolling Hills Prep from scoring at the CIF Dib. 5A Finals at the Anaheim Convention Center Feb. 28.

GUARDING: Ari Wachtenheim tries to stop Rolling Hills Prep from scoring at the CIF Dib. 5A Finals at the Anaheim Convention Center Feb. 28.

Eric Bazak, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Firehawk varsity basketball team exited the Anaheim Convention Center Feb. 28 with gloomy faces, after being defeated 50-36 by Rolling Hills Prep in the CIF Division 5A Championship game with two busloads of Shalhevet students watching.

The game had been relatively close for three quarters, and Shalhevet was leading late in the third. But in the final quarter, Rolling Hills’ Huskies contained the Firehawks to a mere two points, with a stunning 12-0 run to seal the game and take home the trophy – in the process, snapping Shalhevet’s 19-game winning streak.

In the locker room afterwards, Athletics Director Eli Schiff tried to cheer up the tear-eyed players, and motivated them for their upcoming Sarachek tournament.

“One hard game doesn’t take away with what we accomplished this whole season,” Mr. Schiff said. “There is a lot of excitement ahead, so try not to be too disappointed.”

But it was a bitter loss for the Firehawks, whose fans had been filled with excitement before the game.  It was the first time Shalhevet ever reached the CIF division finals. The last time they’d come close was in 2005, when they lost in the semi-final match-up.

The administration was no less excited than the students, cancelling half a day’s worth of classes, and ordering Firehawk-red towels and shirts to hand out to the whole school to wear during the game.  The day’s problems seemed to start early, when the busses left half an hour late, so most students missed the beginning of the game.

More seriously, starters Jojo Fallas and Ariel Sokol were sick with flu-like symptoms. Despite being ill, they played for the majority of the game, with Jojo leading Shalhevet with 20 points in his final CIF game.

More than 100 students and almost half the faculty made the trip. The crowd was very into the game, loudly rooting for the Firehawks until being crushed in the final minutes.

The Firehawks were down early on, only scoring 4 points in the first quarter. They managed to cut the deficit to three at halftime, making the score 23-20 after 16 minutes of play.

In the locker room during half time, Coach Collin was instructing his team, and encouraged them to play their best basketball. When asked about his strategies for the second half, Collin had a lot of tactics.

“We have to attack the zone on offense,” he said. “Play more 2-3 zone defensively, and start running to get some fast breaks.”

Rolling Hills Prep had a few strategies going into the second half as well. Their assistant coach, Courtney Beach, said defense would be key to winning the game.

“We need to make sure to stay disciplined and keep playing hard,” Coach Beach said. “We should be fine if we do that.”

The Firehawks were looking strong to start the second half, with senior Eitan Rothman opening the quarter with a 4-foot shot to trim the deficit to just one point. They would eventually capture the lead late in the third quarter.  Jojo nailed a three-pointer from the corner, then made two free throws on the ensuing possession to go up 31-30 over the Huskies.

However, the Huskies responded by sinking a three from the top of the arc at the buzzer, ending the third quarter with the Firehawks trailing by two.

Rolling Hills prevailed in the fourth quarter with a harassing defense and effective transition offense on the other end. Arguably the key play in the game was when Rolling Hills brought the lead to 12 after a quick steal and a layup with under four minutes left to play. They outscored Shalhevet 14-2 in the closing 8 minutes to grasp the win.

“I knew the game was over when there was about a minute remaining and the other team was just passing the ball around to waste time,” Ari Wachtenheim said.

Adding to the disappointing day, due to the busses’ delay, a quartet of  students from Shalhevet’s choir didn’t get their chance as planned to sing the national anthem before the game began.

Originally scheduled to be performed by choir members Danny Silberstein, Liat Bainvoll, Rachel Spronz, and Benny Balasz, the Star-Spangled Banner was sung by Danny and fellow senior Leah Glouberman, who had driven down in Danny’s car instead of taking the bus.

“I’m sad for the kids who worked so hard and they were very psyched,” said  Choir director Mrs. Joelle Keene. “But I am still honored  and grateful for the effort the school made to try and have them sing.”

Sophomore Rachel Spronz was also a little melancholy after the incident.

“We worked so hard and it was all hyped up, but we couldn’t get to do it at the end.” Rachel said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email