BP Photo by Evan Beller

END: With 6.9 seconds left in the semifinal game, SAR led the Firehawks by 2 as team co-captain Avi Halpert moved the ball.

Stung by overconfidence, Shalhevet falls to SAR in Sarachek semi-final

Top-seeded Firehawks end tournament ranked fourth after loss to YULA in consolation game

With less than 25 seconds left to play, Shalhevet and SAR were tied 55-55 March 26 in the semifinal game of this year’s Red Sarachek Tournament at Yeshiva University in New York.

Playing in YU’s Max Stern Athletic Center, in a controversial call Shalhevet’s Avi Halpert was charged with a blocking foul, which meant that SAR would shoot two free-throws.

Then, with 11.6 seconds remaining, the game was still tied as SAR made both free-throws and now led 57-55. A travel was then called on Halpert with 6.9 seconds left, giving SAR possession.

Shalhevet fouled SAR with 0.7 seconds left. The Sting missed their one free-throw shot, which was rebounded by Firehawk senior Nathan Sellam who took a full-court shot that missed. That made the score 57- 55, which became the final score. SAR won and headed to the championship game.

It was an upset defeat for the Firehawks, who had been seeded No. 1 in the tournament and whose coach, Ryan Coleman, was named Boys’ Coach of the Year in 2018 by Jewish Hoops America and Girls’ Coach of the Year last year. At Sarachek, Shalhevet ended up placing fourth.

“Our thought process on defense was whatever we do, don’t foul, and you know there was a call that could have gone either way,” said Firehawks Head Coach Ryan Coleman, describing the game’s final seconds in an interview later.

You know we used to be underdogs all the time and now we’re clearly a team that everybody brings their A-game for, and if we don’t match their intensity then the result is what we just saw in New York.

— Ryan Coleman, Firehawks Head Coach

“But we shouldn’t have put the game in the official’s hands,” he said, “and Avi jumped out and switched onto their best player and tried to take a charge, which unfortunately ended up costing us.”

After the Sting made both free-through shots they were given due to the foul, Coach Coleman felt that the Firehawks had a good play prepared when they retook possession of the ball. But then a travel was called on Avi Halpert.

“We had a good play drawn up and turned the ball over,” the coach said, “which we did way too many times during the game. So we made two crucial mistakes that a championship team doesn’t make, and that is why we didn’t win the championship.”

He said part of the reason they lost was because the team was feeling too secure due to being seeded number one in the tournament.

“I think that probably going in with the No. 1 seed we were a little bit over-confident and don’t take any of our opponents with the same amount of fire that everybody comes at us with,” Coach Coleman said April 18.

“You know we used to be underdogs all the time,” he continued, “and now we’re clearly a team that everybody brings their A-game for, and if we don’t match their intensity then the result is what we just saw in New York.”


SAR started off the game strong, scoring 19 points in the first quarter compared to Shalhevet’s 11 points.

In the second quarter SAR added eight points while Shalhevet scored 10. The Sting led the Firehawks 27-21 at halftime.

Although the Firehawks outscored them in the third quarter 16 points to 14, SAR still held a four point lead going into the fourth quarter. The score was 41-37, SAR leading.

“I have a bunch of adjectives to describe it, none of which made my stomach feel well,” said Coach Coleman, “and I feel like there was not proper closure to what was one of the best seasons that our boys have ever had.”

SAR, seeded number five, later lost to Valley Torah, seeded number two, in the Sarachek Championship game 56-48. This gave Valley Torah their second consecutive championship win at Sarachek.

Shalhevet faced off against YULA and lost 61-55, coming in fourth place in the tournament.

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