Heartbreak heroes: Girls and boys teams both dominate for most of their games, then lose in final seconds


Neima Fax

EMOTIONAL: From left, seniors Nicole Klausner, Eliana Mizrahi and Shayna Becker were among Firehawk fans worrying in the final moments of Shalhevet girls’ 65-61 semi-final loss to the SAR Sting in the Glouberman Tournament Nov. 9. The Firehawks led by as many as 16 points before halftime but were unable to eke out a win in a nail-biting repeat of last year’s tournament. The Maimonides MCATS won the girls’ tournament, and the Frisch Cougars beat the Firehawk boys to win the boys’.

From tip-off to the final buzzer, they played their hearts out. They gave it their all.

But it wasn’t enough. 

In the Fifth Annual Steve Glouberman Tournament’s “midnight madness” playoff action, both Firehawk teams fell short of delivering Shalhevet its third title in the tournament it founded, losing hard-fought games in the final quarter.

Shalhevet boys won last year and girls won in 2015, when the tournament was founded in honor of Shalhevet parent Steve Glouberman, z”l.  

This time, the Maimonides M-Cats of Brookline, Mass., won the girls tournament, while the Frisch Cougars of Paramus, N.J., took the boys’ title.  Frisch had also won in 2016.

STRATEGY: Firehawk Coach Ryan Coleman draws a play in the final minutes of Shalhevet’s loss to the SAR Sting 65-61 Nov. 9. The Sting came back from down 16 to force overtime and ultimately prevailed. Photo by Neima Fax

The Firehawk girls lost to the SAR Sting of Riverdale, N.Y., in the semi-final game — the exact same fate as in last year’s tournament. They had led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but after halftime the Sting kept chipping away at the lead and managed to tie it with one minute left in the fourth quarter. The Firehawks made the right plays but were unable to finish their shots. 

Many lead changes later, the game finally went into overtime, tied 54-54. SAR’s Lucy Hecht was that game’s high scorer with 27 points.  Shalhevet’s Kiku Shaw was second with 18.

The Sting had the momentum through overtime and emerged victorious 65-61. SAR advanced to the championship game but lost to the M-Cats 58-49. This year was Maimonides’ first Glouberman appearance. 

“It was an amazing tournament and I hope my team is able to come back,” said Maimonides’ Daniella Bessler, the M-Cats’ second-highest scorer with 19 points.  Her teammate Tova Gelb was the game’s highest scorer, with 29.

The Firehawk boys team made it all the way to the finals, beating the HAFTR Hawks of Cedarhurst, N.Y., 46-41 in the semi-final. Meanwhile, the Frisch Cougars beat the RASG Warriors of Boca Raton, Fla., 59-56, and advanced to play Shalhevet for the championship.

AIR: Senior Eliezer Lasry secures the jump ball for the Firehawks in their championship loss to Frisch 61-57 Nov. 9. Helped by the roaring home crowd, the Firehawks came within two baskets of winning a back-to-back Glouberman title. Photo by Kate Orlanski

The boys game, which began after midnight Los Angeles time, saw a stellar first half for the Shalhevet team. Aided by a rowdy and overflow home crowd in the Reich Family Gymnasium, the Firehawks played a clean game and were able to take high-quality shots while denying them to the Cougars. 

The score at halftime was 32 – 20, and Shalhevet was still leading 36-22 with five-plus minutes to go in the third quarter.

But gradually, Frisch rebounded. They outscored the Firehawks 17-6 in the third quarter. And then, the Cougars took the lead late in the fourth quarter and the Firehawks couldn’t respond. 

With under a minute to go, Frisch’s Max Zakheim — surrounded by Firehawk defenders — drained a floater to push the Frisch lead to two scores, 51-47. 

After a Shalhevet timeout, Firehawk junior Jacob Pofsky drew a shooting foul and made both of his free throws. Firehawk senior and team captain Jacob Benezra made a clutch lay-up with 10 seconds left in the game, but Frisch continued to make all its free-throws off Shalhevet’s fouls. 

After Jacob Pofsky missed a last-ditch attempt three pointer, the Cougars celebrated in the middle of the court. It

BOSS: Junior Jacob Pofsky makes a drive for the net in the Firehawks’ 46-41 win over the SAR Sting Nov. 8, propelling them into the championship game. Photo by Zoey Botnick

was their second Glouberman title, the first being won in 2017.


The Cougars won 56-51.  Their coach praised their comeback.

“I told my boys that we were in a fight and they punched us first, but it’s all about how we react,”  Coach Frantz Pierre Louis told the Boiling Point after the game. “I’m okay with losing games, but I’m never okay with losing a fight.”

The Shalhevet boys had been well ahead even in the third quarter, leading 36 – 25 with 4:51 left to play. But they were unable to stop Frisch’s Zakheim — the game’s leading scorer with 20 points — and Shuli Coates, who scored 17.

High scorers for Shalhevet were Benezra with 18 points, and junior Ze’ev Remer with 15.  No other players made into two digits. Freshman Avi Halpert scored 8.

After the boys championship game — which ended after 1:30 a.m. — Rabbi Segal announced Tournament Awards.

Firehawk guards Ze’ev Remer and Jacob Benezra won the All-Team Award, and Kiku Shaw won the All-Team as well as the Steve Glouberman Award, which is given for exemplifying Steve’s values of sportsmanship, leadership, love of the game and achdut, unity.