At Sarachek, reigning champion Firehawks win it again

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At Sarachek, reigning champion Firehawks win it again

ATTACK:    ATTACK: Firehawk forward and Sarachek MVP Asher Dauer goes for a lay-up as junior A.J. Bennett tries to block it in the Firehawks’ 60-41 win over the DRS Wildcats Mar. 17. The Firehawks became only the second team ever to win YU’s Sarachek tournament two years in a row.

ATTACK: ATTACK: Firehawk forward and Sarachek MVP Asher Dauer goes for a lay-up as junior A.J. Bennett tries to block it in the Firehawks’ 60-41 win over the DRS Wildcats Mar. 17. The Firehawks became only the second team ever to win YU’s Sarachek tournament two years in a row.

BP Photo by Clara Sandler

ATTACK: ATTACK: Firehawk forward and Sarachek MVP Asher Dauer goes for a lay-up as junior A.J. Bennett tries to block it in the Firehawks’ 60-41 win over the DRS Wildcats Mar. 17. The Firehawks became only the second team ever to win YU’s Sarachek tournament two years in a row.

BP Photo by Clara Sandler

BP Photo by Clara Sandler

ATTACK: ATTACK: Firehawk forward and Sarachek MVP Asher Dauer goes for a lay-up as junior A.J. Bennett tries to block it in the Firehawks’ 60-41 win over the DRS Wildcats Mar. 17. The Firehawks became only the second team ever to win YU’s Sarachek tournament two years in a row.

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They had already won the Glouberman title in November. They had already made a historic CIF run in February.

And then, for the second year in a row, the Firehawks won Sarachek.

With key plays by Asher Dauer, Noah Rossi and Zack Muller,  Shalhevet’s boys varsity basketball team came back from a six-point deficit at halftime to win their second championship in a row Monday at Yeshiva University’s Red Sarachek Tournament in New York.

This time they defeated the Magen David Warriors 55-49 in the Tier I Championship game, held in the Furst Gymnasium at YU in Upper Manhattan.  Last year they beat the Valley Torah Wolfpack in overtime, 53-51.

 
 
 
 
 
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BACK-TO-BACK: For the second year in a row, the Shalhevet Firehawks are the champions of the Sarachek Tournament after beating the Magen David Warriors of Brooklyn. They won 55-49.

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Making their fourth consecutive championship appearance, the top-seeded Firehawks launched a successful second-half comeback effort after trailing 21-27 at halftime. The win bolsters the Firehawk dynasty at the Sarachek Tournament, which is held every March at Yeshiva University in New York.

It also caps a historic 2019 season for the Firehawk basketball team, which saw them win the Fourth Annual Steve Glouberman Tournament hosted at Shalhevet in November and advancing the farthest a Jewish team has ever advanced in the CIF Southern Section Division 3A of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) — making it to the quarterfinals.

Firehawk Coach Ryan Coleman — who was named 2017-2018 Jewish Hoops of America’s Coach of the Year — said he was proud of the team’s historic season.

“I would say that this is the best season that a team has ever had in the school,” Coach Coleman said.

Most of this year’s seniors as well as Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal, Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow and other staff were there to cheer the team on.

Back at home, classes were cancelled and the rest of school watched a livestream in the gym during lunch period, which was extended for two hours for the game. The crowd of about 100 Firehawk fans had their hearts in the game, cheering after Firehawk baskets and jeering when the referees made calls against them. When it was over, the boys took off to the boys’ bathroom for a “mosh pit” celebration.

Coach Coleman said he schedules games and practices close to each other to prepare his team for playing in hostile environments. That helped his team stage comebacks in the second half of this year’s and last year’s Sarachek championship games.

“Our kids have been through similar situations before throughout the year and whether we won or lost those games, the experience has been helping us out in the long run,” he said.

Just as they did last year, the Firehawks had a rough start to the first half, ending the first quarter down 15-11, and they struggled to score against a strong Warrior defense. But in typical Firehawk fashion, they rose to the occasion immediately after halftime and held on to a small but stable lead until the final buzzer, when Firehawk players and fans alike took to the court to celebrate.

Coach Coleman was impressed with MDY’s gameplay

“MDY is a great team,” he said. “They play as hard as anyone else we play all year and hats off to them and their coach for doing a great job. They did a lot of things that we had never seen before that we had to do adjustments for.”

On their path to the championship game, the Firehawks beat the eighth-seeded YULA Panthers in the quarterfinals, 46-38, in a hometown rivalry matchup last Friday afternoon. That game was very close — the Panthers led  21-20 at half — but the Firehawks pulled away late in the fourth quarter thanks to a three-point play by forward Asher Dauer — who was named the 2019 Sarachek MVP — and five pivotal free-throws by guard Zack Muller, who was named Sarachek MVP last year. The Firehawks outscored the Panthers 22-12 in the fourth quarter.

“The first half was a little shaky,” said sophomore guard Ze’ev Remer after the YULA game. “We’re still not finish our quarters so strong. But we’re playing hard and that’s what matters. We’re getting up the court and we’re sharing the ball well and that’s why we won”

On Sunday, the Firehawks beat the DRS Wildcats of Brooklyn, N.Y., 60-41 in the semi-finals, using a 14-0 run to end the first half and power to a comfortable victory.

The No. 2-seeded Warriors, meanwhile, had narrowly avoided an upset quarterfinal defeat against the Maimonides M-Cats of Brookline, Mass., on Friday afternoon, prevailing by a score of 52-51. But they rebounded Sunday afternoon to beat the SAR Sting 51-37.

Shalhevet guard Jacob Ben Ezra expressed respect for the defeated team.

“Man, we underestimated them,” Jacob said after the win. “They’re a great team, they’re long, they’re athletic, it was a great game. I wish we could play them a lot more

Only YULA had won back-to-back Sarachek titles before, winning Sarachek in 2000 and 2001, according to Macslive.com.

At Shalhevet, with so many students in New York for the game, reaction was a bit quieter than usual but no less joyful.  An elated throng exited the gym to strains of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”  There was still another hour left for lunch.

It was the third time overall that the Firehawks had won Sarachek, the first being in 2013 against Frisch. The team will attempt a fourth win — and third in a row — next year.  Although it’s by invitation only, YU’s website says  the school with the best tournament record over the previous seven years is always invited.

Right now that is Shalhevet High School.

Co-Editor-in-Chief Clara Sandler contributed to this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to an error on macslive.com, earlier versions of this story said Shalhevet became the first team to win Sarachek championships back to back. Macslive updated its report today and this story now correctly states that YULA won Sarachek twice in a row in 2000 and 2001.


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