Firehawk girls eliminated from CIF playoffs in overtime heartbreak against Bloomington Christian


BP Photo by Neima Fax

STRUGGLE: Firehawk guard Maital Hiller heads for the basket in the second quarter of a close game in the gym Feb. 13. The score was tied at the end of the fourth quarter, and the Firehawks lost by 4 points in overtime.

The Firehawks were defeated by the Bloomington Christian Ravens of San Bernardino County 52-48, in overtime in a roller-coaster CIF quarter-final playoff game tonight, putting an end to the girls’ Division 5A playoff ambitions.

Rising-star forward Hila Lasry’s five second-half three-pointers and the enthusiastic Firehawk playoff crowd weren’t enough to stymie the Ravens’ gallant overtime rally that put them over the top. They were just two wins shy of a CIF Southern Section Division 5A championship appearance.

BARREL: Star guard Kiku Shaw drives to the net and heaves up a shot as the Ravens position to defend.
BP Photo by Neima Fax

In an interview before the game, star Firehawk guard Kiku Shaw said the Firehawks would have a difficult task tonight in contending against a team that had high basketball IQ — the ability to dominate the mental aspect of the game.

“How we handle people playing on the court against teams who know what they’re doing is a phenomenon that we’re not used to,” said Kiku. “We are definitely capable. Whether or not we pull through is about mental strength.”

That appeared to be what the problem, as the Ravens were able to convert critical shots just when they needed them most.

The Firehawks maintained a short lead for most of the game, largely in part to the ball movement of duo Firehawk star guards Maital Hiller and Kiku Shaw. The game was neck and neck heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter. With about 30 seconds left in regulation, forward Hila Lasry made a clutch three-pointer, and the game went into overtime after the Ravens failed to score before the buzzer.

And despite more heroics on the part of Hila, the Firehawk short lead evaporated as the Ravens made two consecutive three-pointers. It was too little too late as the buzzer sounded.

GAME: Firehawks and Ravens shake hands after the game, which featured ups and downs for both teams. The Ravens prevailed in overtime. BP Photo by Neima Fax

The loss was the culmination of a hard-fought playoffs, featuring playoff wins against top schools Wiseburn Da Vinci Jan. 29, 51-36; AGBU Feb. 7, 47-36; and Samueli on Feb. 9, 50-39. The team finished 15-5 in the regular season.

Despite Wednesday’s quarterfinal loss, Firehawk girls Coach Jeff Remer thinks the future is bright for basketball at Shalhevet.

“We’re doing good things on all fronts,” said Coach Remer. “We’re moving the school’s sports program in the right direction.”

And even though the girls’ CIF season has ended, the Firehawks can still look forward to the Galbut Tournament in Florida in March. Coach Jeff Remer feels good about his team’s chances.

“I’m expecting them to win that tournament,” said Coach Remer.

Meanwhile, the Firehawks’ playoff hopes aren’t completely over yet. They hope to feel the love on Valentine’s Day — tomorrow — when the 22-6 Firehawk boys team will travel to Palm Springs and take on the Palm Spring Indians at 7 pm.

Shalhevet has rented a bus to bring Firehawk fans to the game, and more than 50 are expected to come along for the ride — missing classes starting at 2:30 when the bus departs.

The CIF Division 3A boys semifinals and championship game are expected to be played next week.

Based on their regular season record, the Firehawk boys were the 4th seed in Division 3A going into the CIF playoffs. They beat the Lawndale Cardinals 66-60 in the first round in front of an energetic home crowd on Feb 8. and the San Dimas Saints 52-42 Feb.12 at San Dimas High School. They will now face Palm Springs for a quarter-final game.

After CIF, the 2018 Sarachek champion Firehawk boys gear up and prepare to return to the prestigious Red Sarachek tournament in March, hosted by Yeshiva University.

However, the Firehawks aren’t thinking about Sarachek just quite yet said Zack Muller, star guard of the team.

“We’re going to play CIF and then we’ll figure out Sarachek,” said Zack.

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