Who They Are:
#1 Shalhevet Firehawks (Los Angeles, CA)
#2 Valley Torah Wolfpack (Valley Village, CA)
How They Got Here:
Shalhevet: Beat YULA 55-38, Beat SAR 48-38
Valley Torah: Beat RASG 51-42, Beat Magen David 43-38
In a California battle between the top two seeds of Sarachek 2018, expect flashy plays, high-intensity, and clutch performances from these young men. Some might say that the pressure lies on a Shalhevet team that has lost in the Tier I championship the past two years. However, after watching superstar Ryan Turell and the Altit twins light it up on the court, many see Valley Torah as the clear favorite in this game despite being a lower seed.
While Turell has struggled (only 40% on FG) somewhat due to the intense focus teams have placed on him defensively, the Nadav and Nimrod Altit have been huge for Valley Torah. They’ve shot a combined 9-15 from deep, which causes absolute nightmare matchups on defense for the other teams. If you want to put a big man on them, they’ll go outside and beat you there, and if you put a guard on them, they’ll use their size to punish you down-low. Yeshiva League basketball rarely sees one team with three players that tall and skilled on the same team, so enjoy watching this phenomenon while you can.
One of the most underrated parts of Shalhevet’s success so far has been there unreal defense. They frustrated the YULA Panthers offense to no end on Friday, and they limited SAR superstar Judah Oppenheimer significantly during Sunday’s win. The Firehawks are not a big team, but they rotate and communicate well and use their high basketball IQs and elite coaching to make things extremely difficult for the other team on offense.
These two teams are as confident and unfazed by pressure as they come. The Valley Torah Trio is always smiling and genuinely enjoys playing basketball. Turell loves the spotlight and isn’t afraid to take the last shot.
Shalhevet’s confidence is a little quieter but is just as real. Superstar scorer Zach Muller played well at Sarachek last year as a young sophomore, and his poise and leadership has only gotten better this year. Muller has shot an absolutely incredible 22-24 from the free throw line, and has looked cool and collected throughout the entire tournament.
Players To Watch:
Ben Mashiach has been limited by foul trouble so far in this tournament. His size and athleticism is extremely necessary against the super-tall Valley Torah team, and he’ll have to balance playing aggressive, tough ball down-low and keeping himself away from fouls. He plays with a lot of heart and intensity, and you’ll see that today.
Nearly a foot shorter than the Altit twins, Wolfpack guard Leal Saada has been extremely steady so far in this tournament. He often doesn’t play the role of a traditional point guard because Turell does a lot of dribbling and running the offense, but Saada still passes the ball well, rebounds, and plays great perimeter defense. With the big three of the Wolfpack, it’s easy to forget about guys like Saada and Ben Hamer, but it could be their small contributions that make the difference in the game today.
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- TIER II CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
- Kohelet Wins Tier IV Championship
- TIER III CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
- Berman Bigs Beat Katz, Advance To Tier II Championship
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- Shalhevet Charges Its Way Into 3rd Straight Tier I Championship