With the shot-clock running down and only two minutes to go in the fourth, Senior Ryan Turell hit a beautiful fadeaway jumper to give the Valley Torah Wolfpack (Valley Village, California) a 38-33 lead, helping secure their eventual 43-38 victory over the Magen David Warriors (Brooklyn, New York). It was the culmination of a second half that saw Valley Torah break the tie and gain a small edge that they would hold throughout the third and fourth quarters.
The Yeshiva University gym was packed at the 4 PM tipoff. Both teams were filled with energy after waiting an extra hour for their game to begin due to the quadruple overtime game that preceded theirs.
Both teams came bursting with intensity out of the gates, and Valley Torah struck first with a couple of baskets from Senior starters, twins Nimi and Nadav Altit to build a quick 5-0 advantage for the Wolfpack. Magen David was swift to respond, however, and a couple of inside buckets from Sophomore Albert Nsiri and Senior Teddy Shamma brought the game back up to 5-4.
Valley Torah and Magen David came in knowing how good the other team was offensively and played accordingly. The defense was intense on both end of the courts, forcing both teams to play a slower offense and shuffle the ball around the court trying to get an open shot. Valley Torah played a very tight defense, refusing to give Magen David a chance to get hot from beyond the arc. Magen David had a very clear defensive game plan: keep the ball away from star forward Ryan Turell. Starting from the very beginning of the game, Magen David always kept one man very close to Turrell, keeping the ball out of his hands.
The second half of the quarter saw the tempo of the game pick up as both teams became more aggressive both offensively and defensively. After some key steals by Magen David, some sharp shooting by Valley Torah, and a thunderous two handed jam by Nadav Altit (which resulted in a technical for hanging on to the rim for too long) the score was 15-13 in Valley Torah’s favor as the quarter drew to close. Nadav Altit was leading Valley Torah with 11 points on three 3-pointers, and Junior Michael Natkin acted as the catalyst for Magen David’s offense with 7 points.
Play resumed and the second quarter picked up right where the first quarter left off. Intensity was just as high if not higher, highlighted by a wild diving scramble for a loose ball 40 seconds into the quarter. Both teams were playing stellar defense, making it extremely difficult for either offense to get anything going. After three and a half minutes of play, only 9 points had been scored overall. The split was 7-2 in favor of Valley Torah, and Magen David called a timeout to ensure things wouldn’t snowball out of control. With 4:24 to go in the second quarter, Valley Torah was leading 22-15.
Whatever coach Ike Dweck said in the huddle must’ve worked, because Magen David came out after the timeout flying. They quickly put up 4 points to cut the lead to three and started pressing defensively, adding extra pressure for the Wolfpack to deal with.
For the rest of the half, Valley Torah and Magen David were busy trading buckets. While Valley Torah struck with a more balanced attack, taking shots from all spots on the court and even sprinkling in a few nice alley-oop plays, Magen Daven utilized the blazing speed of their guards to drive inside and score off of close layups. With time winding down Nsiri drove and laid a beautiful layup of the glass to tie it all up at 26 going into the half.
Nimi Altit got the nod this quarter as lead scorer for the Wolfpack with 7 points on some great plays. Magen David’s offensive charge was led by Albert Nsiri, who collected 6 points and one nifty assist, while center Senior Steven Mizrahi played excellent defense and had a few key blocks to keep Magen David close.
Notably, Magen David’s defensive plan was working, as Turell was held to just 4 points throughout the half. Turrell’s presence was still felt, however; the fact that he was being heavily guarded opened up the floor for the rest of his teammates and allowed them to score.
The second half began as the defensive pressure was increased. As so much of the game’s offense generated from inside, both teams packed the paint defensively and made it hard for anyone to get something going. Valley Torah played excellent defense, holding Magen David scoreless for most of the quarter. Magen David as well did an excellent job defending inside, and Valley Torah had to turn to their perimeter to create some offense. In doing so, and with the help of timely offensive rebounding, they managed to pull ahead, garnering a lead they would keep for the rest of the game.
With a 3-pointer apiece for the Altit twins, Valley Torah scored the only 6 points of the first five and a half minutes of the quarter, and Magen David called a timeout with 2:23 remaining. Things went from bad to worse for Magen David as a nice jumper from Turell increased the lead to 8 with little time remaining in the third. With things looking bleak, Nsiri took charge and scored 4 points for Magen David to cut the lead in half going into the final quarter of play, 34-30 Wolfpack.
The fourth quarter opened up with the same brand of basketball that had been displayed for the first three: both teams playing excellent defense making it very difficult for either team to get something going. Both offenses sent the ball zipping around the perimeter, trying to generate some sort of offense. With 3:39 left in the game, and after a great move by Nsiri to pull them within three, Magen David called another timeout.
Post timeout, Magen David came with all-out intensity, doing their best to try and tie the game up. They made a couple excellent stops defensively, but they couldn’t stop Turell’s beautiful jumper to put Valley Torah up by 5 with two minutes remaining. At that point, it became a game of “foul and stop the clock,” but it was not enough for Magen David to come back from their deficit. After Magen David missing a few 1 and 1 opportunities, Turell hit all of his free throw chances to seal the victory, 43-38.
Valley Torah’s offensive efforts were led by their all-star trio of Nadav Altit, Nimi Altit, and Ryan Turell. Nadav had 14 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Nimi had 12 points. Even with the tight defense Turell still managed 15 points (going 5-8 from the charity stripe), and made additional contributions with 5 assists and 9 rebounds. Senior guard Leal Saada also contributed with his playmaking, raking up 5 assists over the game.
Magen David was led by Albert Nsiri, who collected 15 points. The rest of the scoring was balanced out between Michael Natkin (7 points), Steven Mizrahi (6 points), Junior Raymond Jajati (6 points) and Teddy Shamma (4 points).
With this victory Valley Torah will move to the Tier I championship, looking to capture the crown for the first time in school history. After this defeat, Magen David will battle it out for third place in Tier I.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow at MacsLive.com, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva University athletics and exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament, to catch all the exciting Tier championship action.
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