Junior varsity and varsity Cougars bond over Shabbos before hitting the court
After starting their season 8-0, the Frisch junior varsity basketball team had a busy weekend at a team Shabbaton, where they were joined by the varsity team, and a Saturday night game against SAR.
The Shabbaton began in the Chesner house on Friday night where the teams davened together. The davening was led by Andrew Langer’s ‘16 inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv. Following davening, the teams headed upstairs for a wonderful dinner together with the Chesner family. At the meal, the coach asked each player to reflect on his most memorable moment as a member of the Cougars. It was then that there seemed to be a real bonding of the teams; both inspirational moments (such as manager Eli Semer hitting a 3-pointer in the Montreal tournament) along with comical and enduring memories were shared.
The JV and varsity teams then finished the night at Congregation B’nai Yeshurun, where they joined along with the boys hockey team in a tisch with hot food and loud and passionate singing. The teams were treated to both basketball and Torah memories by former MTA coach Daniel Gibber. Coach Gibber fondly reflected on his 17+ years as a Yeshiva League coach and his memories and life lessons both as a coach and as a player. Following the address, the teams all joined together in singing of zemirot which could be heard all the way back in the Frisch gymnasium in Paramus.
The next morning, both teams met up at the Paul house for Shacharit, and were joined by Rabbi Ciner, Rabbi Schachter and Athletic Director Aron Coren. Davening was led by Josh Dukas ’17, and the leining and haftorah were split between Nachi Paul and Noam Kuritzky ’18. Following davening, Rabbi Ciner, Rabbi Schachter and their families joined the teams for a beautiful kiddush and lunch. Afterwards, the players went back down for Mincha, and then broke for the day to spend time with their respective host families and for some well-deserved rest.
The long anticipated game between two undefeated teams began shortly after Shabbat. The Cougars got off to an unbelievable start, taking an early lead and showing the many fans why they are such a strong team. However, the SAR Sting responded by making a comeback and chipping away at the lead slowly. There was a great atmosphere, with the fans ablaze for this very close game. The Cougars, after hitting a couple free throws, found themselves up three with about five seconds to go in the game. Jake Schwalbe of SAR, who had been having a great game, dribbled the ball up the court. With time running out, he pulled up from deep range and drained the “3” at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime. The SAR fans went crazy, storming the court. However, the game wasn’t over, and the Cougars were ready to finish it. Down by 1 with 45 seconds to go, the Cougars brought the ball up the court and went into their motion offense. With 30 seconds to go and the ball in the hands of Jack Levine ’18, he launched a 3-point shot. With the ball in the air for what seemed like hours, the ball finally swished through the net and the Cougars took a 2-point lead with 15 seconds remaining. The crowd and Cougars fans were in a frenzy—but there was still a game to be played. Ever so calmly and with nerves of steel, the team forced the Sting into a difficult shot and the team grabbed a rebound with 10 seconds remaining. Jack Stepner ’18 stepped to the line and, with ice in his veins, calmly sank both free throws to give the team a 4-point lead. SAR inbounded the ball and was unable to convert on the other end, thus making it a very important 54-50 win in OT against the always strong and well-coached Sting team.
With the well-earned victory, the JV Cougars head into winter break with a 9-0 record and first place in the Western Conference. As first place seed, the Cougars will own home court advantage throughout their playoff lives. The Cougars look to complete their undefeated regular season with a win in their next game against Kushner, and make a playoff run following the break.
The same night as the JV victory over SAR, the varsity team played second shift. The Frisch varsity was eager to finally get on the court, and once they did they too got an early lead. Just as in the JV game, the Sting fought back and made it a close game. Frisch was able to hold on to win by a score of 39-37, and attributed much of their efforts toward a great pregame Shabbaton bonding experience.
By Stevie Paul and Noah Schechter