As Firehawk spirit cheers, Varsity Basketball crushes YULA — finally

Sigal Spitzer, Sports Editor

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Boosted by a pep rally held during Town Hall and overcoming years of stinging losses, the Firehawk Boys Varsity Basketball team defeated the cross-town rival YULA Panthers, 59 – 49, on the home court at the Jewish Community Center Jan. 2.

No one could remember the last time this happened, but most guesses said it was at least six years ago.

Fans cheered and stomped during halftime, led by Mr. Buckley and the Judaic staff. Students, families, teachers and administrators had gathered to watch the basketball game.

“We waved foam fingers, we wore our school jerseys, lost our voices and ran onto the court like we always do,” senior Katie Feld said. “Except this time we had something to cheer about.”

Earlier in the evening, the junior varsity basketball teams played each other and YULA won by 22 points.

But the varsity game was a different story.

“The Firehawk spirit could definitely be felt,” said freshman Derek Orenshein, who plays on the junior varsity basketball team.

Though Shalhevet got off to a slow start, down 7-0 within the first minutes of the game. At the end of the first quarter the Panthers were up by only one point.

After a second quarter battle, sophomore Simcha Halpert made a three-point shot just before the halftime buzzer, putting the Firehawks up by four.

During the third quarter, Shalhevet attempted to close the game but the Panthers would not give up.  Leading at times by 14 points, and other times by 6 points, the game was heated with physical contact and friendly competition.

But the team pulled away in the fourth quarter and maintained a 10-point lead for the last eight minutes of the game.

“We beat YULA because of our team chemistry, which is much better then last year,” sophomore point guard Adam Kaufler said.  “Every game we learn form our past mistakes. We know how to keep our lead and close out when other teams are trying to come back in the end of the game, like YULA did.”

The YULA Panthers said they had tried a number of ways to break Shalhevet’s lead, but nothing seemed to work.

“We adjusted during the game by exploiting the mismatches that we saw on offense,” said YULA center Jojo Himmelmanm who is a center on the varsity team. “We tried to do a better job of knowing our assignments on defense and how to play them (Firehawks).”

Jojo Himmelman also said that he anticipated a Panther victory.

“Of course I expected to win,” he said. “Only when Jojo Fallas made the ‘and-1’ lay-up with two minutes left did I think we were going to lose.”

Next time, the Panthers hope to come with more energy, enthusiasm and smart thinking, he said.

“Nothing in terms of game planning. Just energy and smart,” Jojo Himmelman added.

After the varsity game, Shalhevet fans charged the court in celebration of the big victory.  As usual, the fans provided support and encouragement throughout the entire game, regardless of whether Shalhevet was ahead or behind.

Meanwhile, the unexpected win had athletes and non-athletes alike excited about the basketball season, which started Dec. 20th.

“Even though I do not play on a sports team I am so excited about the upcoming season for the boys after the big win against YULA,” said Senior Becca Ordin.

 

 

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