Firehawks headed back to Sarachek for a fourth straight year


Neima Fax

PRACTICE: Shalhevet’s Zach Muller passed to a teammate as the Firehawks practiced throughout the summer.

By Tobey Lee, Sports Editor

Normally a school can participate in the tournament in only two of any three consecutive years, and who can play is determined by lottery.  But Yeshiva University, which hosts the games, exercises a right to invite any team they would especially like to be there — apparently including the Shalhevet Firehawks.

And so the team will be headed back to New York next March as what the tournament calls a “discretionary pick.”

The Boiling Point was unable to reach to Matthew Schwartz, the director of Sarachek, to see why the Firehawks were chosen. But Firehawk Athletic Director and head coach of the basketball team Mr. Ryan Coleman thinks it was because of how well they’ve done both on and off the court.

“Basically, they have a lottery and you’re not available for the lottery after you’ve attended three consecutive years,” Coach Coleman explained. “But they reserve the right to select you as a discretionary pick, and we are such mensches when we go there that they couldn’t help invite us back for a fifth consecutive year.”

Mr. Schwartz called and gave him the news June 27, Coach Coleman said.

He said he was not surprised.

“Given… how well we’ve done the last two years… I thought that we were going to get invited back,” Coach Coleman said.

Last season, the Firehawks did well both in California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and Sarachek competition. They finished with an overall record of 25-8 in CIF competition, 6-0 in league play.

They made it to the Sarachek championship game as well, losing to the Frisch Cougars by just two points – 49 – 47 – in 2017. A year earlier, they fell to the DRS Wildcats 47-32, also in the championship.

In CIF play,the team is set to advance to a higher level, Division 4AA, because of last year’s success. Coach Coleman said he would rather play at the CIF state playoffs, if he had to choose, because the competition would be greater.

But he considers it unlikely to happen.

“We’re not going to make it to the state playoffs this year, so we’re not going to have that problem,” said Coleman.   “We’re not as talented, and we’re going to be moved up a division, and if our kids want to take the challenge I love that.”

If the team does surprisingly well after all, Sarachek was two weeks earlier last year than it will be this year, so there would not be a repeat of last year’s scheduling conflict — although CIF might disqualify the team if it learns they’re playing in Sarachek beforehand.

In the past, the Firehawks have had opportunities to compete at state level, and have given it up multiple times to play at Sarachek, most recently In 2013, said Firehawk alumnus Mati Hurwitz ‘16.

Coach Coleman said that CIF now has a formula of placing teams in higher divisions, which will provide competitive equity for teams, which is based off of one team’s success in the previous two years and whether one team was in the CIF quarterfinal or finished as runner up in the previous year.

“The opportunity to play that level of basketball in that environment is very rare,” said the athletic director.

Junior Asher Dauer was excited to have the opportunity to go back to Sarachek.

“[It’s] pretty exciting to go back for a fourth year in a row,” said Asher, who plays guard. “I feel like it’s kind of an accomplishment for the team… the fact that we’ve gone to the championships the past two years shows a lot about Shalhevet basketball that they allowed us to go back four years in a row.”

He also said that in spite of Coach Coleman’s comments about the team not making it to state this year, he thought the team could make it happen.

“I think we are [talented enough],” Asher said. “We made it last year, and if we make it to… the finals whether we win or lose, like we did last year, we would make it to the state playoffs.”