For the second time in three years, the top seeded Frisch School Cougars (Paramus, NJ) are once again Sarachek champions, as they defeated the Shalhevet High School Firehawks (Los Angeles, CA) 49-47 in a thrilling Tier I Championship Game Monday afternoon that came all the way down to the wire.
A jam-packed Max Stern Athletic Center was filled with the two perennial powerhouse high school basketball teams, large supporting fan-bases, and a raucous crowd, generating a tremendous amount of pride, intensity, and drama throughout a closely contested battle. Ultimately, the Cougars were the last ones standing.
Frisch’s Yisroel Solomon, a senior guard who inherited the nickname “the run starter”, after his uncanny job at igniting runs at opportune times for his team in their semifinal match-up, hit what would be the deciding free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining on the game clock after getting fouled on a drive through the lane. With the game all tied up at 47 with 9 seconds remaining in the game, Solomon received a pass from Isaac Laifer and took it hard to the paint. The senior got up and sank two free throws that landed him a spot in both Frisch and Sarachek lore.
Setting up the aforementioned sequence, the heroics of Firehawk superstar Eitan Halpert were on full display. Coming off of a timeout with 19 seconds left to play and down by 3, Shalhevet guard Zack Muller received a baseline inbound pass and missed a layup. Halpert, who finished with a remarkable double-double of 26 and 15 rebounds, cleaned up his teammate’s miss with a putback layup while getting fouled in the process. He hit the and-one free throw to knot the game up at 47 and 9 seconds left to play.
The Firehawks, seeded third in the tournament, were unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer sounded, as they had to go the full length of the court after Solomon put up Frisch for good. With the loss, Shalhevet has fallen in the Sarachek Championship Game for consecutive years. They were beaten by last year’s champions, DRS Yeshiva High School, by a score of 47-32.
Before the game got underway, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel addressed the Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament crowd for one last time, as his term in office finishes later this year. While he spoke, he emphasized the importance of religious unity, and closeness within our respective communities. His message appropriately prefaced what would be a very close, tightly-knitted championship game.
The game was never out of contention for either school, as neither team ever led by more than 5 points. Frisch was up by a score of 24-21 at halftime. Throughout both halves, however, leads were routinely exchanged, and the game was frequently tied.
The game’s first quarter was sloppy with inconsistent play, featuring a plethora of turnovers by both teams. The chaos was caused by poor passes, miscommunications, and likely the high running tensions that the players were certainly affected by in the championship game setting.
The Frisch team started to find its way in the second quarter, outscoring Shalhevet by 5 in the period. Their offensive charge was led by fan-favorite Josh Dukas, who scored 8 points in the quarter and 11 overall in the game.
The second half featured plenty of drama, largely produced by Firehawks senior guard, Edan Sokol. After being whistled in the third quarter for his team’s second technical foul of the game for arguing with referees, Sokol carried his team offensively in fourth. He hit two huge 3-pointers, each from the same corner of the court, and each putting his team in front by three in their respective moments. The senior finished with 10 points on 4-8 shooting from the floor, but he and Halpert got little support from their teammates, limiting Shalhevet’s offensive options.
Both Frisch and Shalhevet shot very well from the free throw line, finishing with 74% and 87%, respectively. While The Firehawks statistically had the better game from the charity stripe, Frisch reached the line 34 times compared to Shalhevet’s only 15 appearances. A game which featured almost fifty free throws was fittingly decided right there at the line, where Yisroel Solomon, bigger than the moment, delivered the biggest shots of his life.
Despite Shalhevet’s loss in the Championship game, Eitan Halpert was named a well-deserved tournament MVP after two phenomenal showings in the Firehawks semifinal and championship contests. Halpert certainly did all he could in this one to propel his team to the promise land, but unfortunately his efforts fell just short.
In all, a hard fought, entertaining game capped off what was a very exciting 2017 Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament. Frisch went 3-0 in route to their championship finish, defeating MTA, SAR, and finally Shalhevet along the way. For more coverage of the game and the box score, be sure to visit MacsLive.com, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva Sports and exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Tournament.
On behalf of MacsLive, I would like to thank everyone who has tuned into MacsLive, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva University Athletics and the exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament, throughout this year’s tournament. We hope you enjoyed and we look forward to serving you again next year. We would also like to congratulate the Frisch Cougars, the Ida Crown Aces, the YULA Panthers, and the Kohelet Kings, on winning their respective tiers.
- Frisch Hoists The Tier I Trophy In A Nail Biter Victory
- #16 What? Ida Crown Wins Tier II
- Kohelet Crowned Tier IV Champs
- Panthers Roar Past Kushner, Win Tier III
- Harkham Wins, But Both Teams Celebrate After Historic Night In Sarachek
- The 16 Seeded Cinderella Story Continues
- All Cooper All Day, As The Macs Head To The Tier-II Championship.
- A Renewed Battle Between Frisch And Shalhevet For Tier-I Glory