In a harder bracket and without their coach present, Firehawks finish fifth at Galbut


BP Photo courtesy of Ms. Ilana Wilner

CATCH: Junior Talia Gill gets a pass from sophomore Maital Hiller at the Hyman P. Galbut Tournament.

By Tobey Lee, Sports Editor

The Lady Firehawks finished fifth at the Hyman P. Galbut Tournament, which was held at Hebrew Academy of Miami March 7 – 10.

Last year, they finished second in the tournament, just behind the Katz Yeshiva High School Storm of Boca Raton, Fla.

A harder bracket meant facing Katz, now their most feared enemy, in an earlier round, which along with jet lag and not having their head coach present were cited as reasons for the poorer showing.

In their last five meetings, the Firehawks have lost to the Storm every time. Team captain Loren Edry said the girls are usually filled with jitters before they play Boca.

“I think we just get nervous,” said Loren, a senior who plays forward. “Since they did beat us like probably four times now, we have that like on the top of our head now while we’re playing. Our only goal is to like crush them, when in reality we should be focusing on how we actually play on the court.”

Other reasons offered ranged from jet lag to lack of energy to not having their head coach, Jeff Remer, with them on the trip due to an illness in his family.

The girls finished 3-2 at the tournament, with wins against Columbus Torah Academy of Ohio, Hillel New Jersey in Monmouth County, N.J., and Rochelle Zell in Chicago, Ill.

They won their first two games, but then lost to Boca in games that determined seeding.

Sophomore guard Kikuyo Shaw blamed sloppy passing.

“Honestly, we had too many turnovers,” said Kikuyo.

Sophomore guard Maital Hiller said it came down to free throws.

“We were neck-and-neck with them until around the third quarter, and I think that we just lost it off the free throws,” said the star sophomore.

Maital said the Firehawks’ defense was not horrible, but they lost because they didn’t produce enough on offense. She also said outside shooting from Boca was strong.

Whatever its cause, the loss to Boca made things harder for the rest of the tournament.

“The bracket that we were placed in was more challenging compared to other years and … that resulted in us not getting such a good seeding,” said Maital.

After the game against Boca, the Firehawks played Ida Crown of Chicago, and lost in overtime.

Kikuyo also said that they weren’t on top of their game even in the first two outings.

“I’ll be honest with you, we didn’t play our best at all,” Kikuyo said, “We were lethargic, we just couldn’t connect passes, but we were like exhausted because of our red-eye flight.”

The team had landed in Miami at 5 a.m., and then had a game 15-and-a-half hours later, at 8:30 that night. The next morning, they played at 8 a.m.

They also did not have time to practice. They also wanted to explore the city of Miami, which included going to South Beach.

Loren said it was hard not having their head coach with them on the trip. Coach Remer missed the tournament because his father was ill. Assistant coach David Bitron headed the team instead, and Athletic Director and boys basketball coach Ryan Coleman was there as well.

“It was just harder for us to… run plays and just get everything coordinated,” Loren said.

Although the girls did not win the tournament, they were very glad they went.

“We had an amazing time in Miami,” said Loren.”Also we met a lot of girls from other teams and it was good competition.”

Maital thinks next year will be better.

“We’re going to be working hard off-season and hope for the best,” said Maital.

“Our chemistry is much better now,” she added. “I’m really excited for the Steve Glouberman Tournament. We just know how to play the game better. Our defense strengthened, as well as our offense.”