Boys Basketball finishes 6th at Sarachek after Simcha Halpert is injured in second game

By Sigal Spitzer, Senior Staff Writer

An untimely wrist injury suffered by Firehawk basketball star Simcha Halpert derailed the team’s chances of winning the Red Sarachek Tournament this year at Yeshiva University. Backup players lifted the team to one more win, but in the end Shalhevet finished sixth out of 20 teams.

Despite an unusually large contingent of cheering Firehawk fans – including 11 from the Boiling Point staff, who were in New York for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association conference that weekend – the team lost two out of four games, making its 2013 Sarachek championship performance a fading memory.

Simcha, who is also the senior co-captain, broke his left wrist after attempting to block a shot in the first period of quarterfinal play against the top-seeded HAFTR Hawks of Cedarhurst, N.Y. After the block attempt, he fell and hit the ground.

“Right when I fell, I fell on my whole arm so I didn’t know what hurt,” Simcha said later. At first he thought he’d hurt his shoulder.

“But then a couple of minutes went by and my wrist just started killing me,” he said, “I tried playing at first to see if I could keep going, but when I caught the ball the pain just pierced me.”

Although Shalhevet tried valiantly to recover from losing its best player, the eighth-seeded team did not find a way to advance past the quarters and fell to consolation rounds.

Suited up in uniform but seated on the bench, a morose Simcha yearned to be back on the court, helping his team pursue a second championship.

“They are out there playing their hearts out and I can’t help,” Simcha said during the HAFTR game. “I wish I could be out there playing.”

HAFTR capitalized on their opponent’s sudden weakness and won the game 55-46 as Shalhevet failed to find an offensive rhythm. The Hawks led by 25 before the Firehawk bench went on an essentially meaningless run at the end of the game.

The Firehawks’ season-long dependence on Simcha’s routine shooting ended up stabbing them in the back.

“The fact that everyone is so codependent on Simcha hurt us,” said senior Mati Hurwitz. “Our mentality was different when he got injured and we didn’t play as well.”

Senior Jeremy Glouberman said things would have been different with complete roster.

“Fully healthy I expected us to do much better than we did,” said Jeremy.

HAFTR star center Abie Perlow said Simcha’s absence made it much easier for them to advance, as did the Long Island’s advantage in height.

“Their best player got injured in the first few minutes of the game, giving us a huge advantage,” Abie recalled.

Without Simcha, Jacob Dauer became Shalhevet’s tallest player at 6’ tall. However, the Hawks were still significantly larger than the Firehawks from the start, including the stocky 6’5” Perlow.

Shabbat fell in between the HAFTR loss and Shalhevet’s ensuing consolation game, providing the Firehawks some time to regroup. The team developed a new formula to win: give it to the little brother.

Sophomore Eitan Halpert scored 22 points in a 69-42 win over Hillel of Ocean View, N.J. in the opening round. He earned Second Team All-Tournament honors for stepping up and leading the offensive attack.

“Our energy level was low because of [losing] Simcha’s energy,” said Eitan, “so we needed to pick up our momentum straight off the bat.”

The Firehawks didn’t lose hope and carried competitive spirit into their final games.

“After Simcha went down we battled,” said Jeremy.

In a thrilling consolation match against Beth Tfiloh of Pikesville, MD, the Firehawks did just. In a seesawing affair, Shalhevet escaped with a 54-50 win to advance to the 5th Place game.

Eitan poured in another 22 while senior Zev Marcus filled in for Simcha in the backcourt, giving a breakthrough offensive performance as well as a high-energy defensive masterpiece.

“After I saw Simcha fall, I knew someone needed to fill his place,” Zev said. “I took the responsibility upon myself to step up and be that guy on the team. I used all my skills from practice and time in the gym to showcase my hard work.”

Zev scored 10 points and had a game-clinching steal with seconds ticking and a three-point Firehawk advantage.

The final game was a heartbreaker, ending with a 39-37 last-second loss to RASG of Miami Beach, FL. Trailing by two with just seconds left, Adam Kaufler drew a charge to force a Warrior turnover, which gave the Firehawks time to draw up one more play. Jacob Dauer missed the potential game-tying shot, Shalhevet finished in sixth and Firehawk Basketball in 2015 came to a close.

“Maybe should have won the 5th place game, but I’ll take 6th place,” Jeremy added.

After losing to Shalhevet and YULA in consecutive championship appearances, third-seeded Frisch of Paramus, N.J. finally won the Sarachek Tournament with a 75-73 triple overtime win over HAFTR. YULA beat DRS of Woodmere, N.Y. to come in third.

Sports Editor Mati Hurwitz contributed to this story.