For victorious Firehawks’ after their first game in a year, the bigger win was getting to play

Shalhevet defeats Buena 63-55 in both teams’ first game since pandemic


Ellie Orlanski

RESUMED: Firehawk shooting guard Jacob Pofsky launched a basket over the heads of defenders from Buena High School in Ventura Thursday night. Due to Covid rules, only 40 spectators, at left, were able to watch in person. Others watched a live but private video feed.

By Noah Elad, Staff Writer

Shalhevet basketball is back! After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Firehawk boys varsity team roared back to action in a hard-fought game against the Bulldogs of Buena High School of Ventura Thursday evening in the Shalhevet gym. 

That gym looked different. Instead of being packed with the noise and crazy energy of students, there were approximately 40 people in attendance. Others who knew about it watched a live video feed that had been made available to players’ families. The game had not been announced on Schoology.

None of that silenced the Firehawk shooters, shot-blockers and defenders, who defeated Buena — a public high school in Ventura with about 2,000 students  — by a score 63 to 55.  But it did seem to make the game itself more important than the final score.

Team co-captain Ze’ev Remer, the game’s lead scorer with 29 points, offered this comment via text message when the game was over: 

“To have a senior season is what I’ve been looking forward to my whole senior year. I’m extremely grateful to the administration working so hard to make this happen, as well as our coaches.”

Firehawks Head Coach Ryan Coleman agreed.

“After the game we were really happy,” said Coach Coleman. “Obviously we were happy that they won, but I think the most important thing was to just get back on the floor and be playing again.”


It was close from the start. The Firehawks began the game with a first-play three-pointer made by sophomore Avi Halpert. From there the score went back and forth until Ze’ev Remer made a jumper with just two seconds left to put the Firehawks ahead 16-14. 

As the second quarter went on, Buena began to heat up and took a 24-18 lead with 3:40 left in the half. 

Coach Coleman then called a timeout and Shalhevet went on an 8-0 run for three minutes. The score was 26-24, Firehawks’ lead, and the half ended at a 26-26 tie. 

The third quarter was the strongest quarter for the Firehawks, as they scored 18 points and extended their lead to 46-37 to end the quarter. In that quarter senior Ze’ev Remer scored 6 points, sophomore Avi Halpert 5 points, senior Jacob Pofsky 4 points, and junior Josh Moradian 3 points. 

In the fourth, the game started to inch closer. At one point the Firehawks only had a six-point lead of 46-40 about halfway through the quarter. 

Buena began to play tighter defense, meaning they were more aggressive in trying to steal the ball to limit the amount of time the Firehawks had control of it. The small crowd present grew louder in the last few minutes of the game, cheering on the players to show support. 

Both teams were playing hard. Buena began to get closer, and with 20 seconds left in the game, Shalhevet led by just four — 59-55.  

The Bulldogs then tried to score as fast as they could, calling their timeouts and keeping the ball in their hands. But the Firehawks didn’t let their guard down. After the Bulldogs tried fouling them to get the ball back faster, Shalhevet scored four points in the last 20 seconds. The Firehawks ended up with the win, 63-55. 

Obviously we were happy that they won, but I think the most important thing was to just get back on the floor and be playing again

— Firehawks head coach Ryan Coleman

Aside from Ze’ev Remer with 29, the leading scorers were Jacob Pofsky with 17 points and Avi Halpert with 10. 

“Happy to come out of the game with a win. Only can improve from here,” texted Ze’ev. 

Buena Coach Matthew Colton gave the Firehawks credit for their win. But he also blamed his own team’s inability to practice for their loss.

“I gotta hand it to you guys, you played very well,” said Coach Colton in an interview with the Boiling Point. “Pofsky and Remer, they both played very well.

“We missed a ton of free throws… we were 15 for 30 from the free-throw line, and we were 5 for 32 from the three-point line,” he said. “We have barely been able to get together. For us, we are just last-minute doing things that we can’t do and that was about it.”  

The Bulldogs also had a victory, however.  

Coach Coleman said that earlier in the evening, the Shalhevet JV team defeated Buena’s Freshman/Sophomore team 52-26. But then, both the Firehawks and Bulldogs split their Varsity teams into two “half-teams,” which played one another in succession. 

The “lower” half of Buena’s Varsity team was able to defeat Shalhevet’s “lower” half. The final score of that game was 54-50. 

Next, according to team members, the Firehawks were hoping to play their next game this Wednesday, March 24, against St. Monica High School. However, it was officially cancelled two days before the game was scheduled due to the St. Monica team not having enough practice time before the game. Under CIF rules, all players and coaches on both teams must get Covid tested the day before the game, and if anyone associated with either team tested positive then the game would be called off.


Last time the Firehawks faced Buena, it was Feb.5, 2020, and Shalhevet defeated the Bulldogs 68-59 to advance in the Division 3AA CIF playoffs. They won two more games, beating Cal Lutheran and Mary Star of the Sea, before losing to the Westlake Warriors 83-49 on Feb. 15.   The team was hoping to secure a third straight title at the Red Sarachek Tournament in New York in mid-March, but Sarachek was cancelled due to coronavirus on March 5.

This time, the Firehawks are hoping to play their next game this Wednesday, March 18, against St. Monica High School, but it’s not definite because of the unpredictability still attached to COVID-19.  Under CIF rules, all players and coaches on both teams must get Covid tested the day before the game, and if anyone associated with either team tested positive then the game would be called off. 

Meanwhile, even after a win, the Shalhevet team is still looking for ways to improve. Avi Halpert said they’d be concentrating on improving their rebounds.

“It feels great to be back on the court,” texted Avi.  “In order to win more games we must box out.”

Coach Coleman said that feeling was shared by the whole team.

“I don’t think that my assistant coach and I are ever really happy with the way we play once we watch the film, and many of our players watched the film of our game since then and every single one of them was fairly disappointed in the way that they played,” Coach Coleman said. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated which Buena team defeated the Firehawks. It was the “lower” half of Buena’s Varsity which defeated Shalhevet’s “lower” half, not Buena’s JV team defeating the “lower” half of Shalhevet’s Varsity team. The BP regrets the error.