The Frisch Cougars and TABC Storm met in a Junior Varsity and Varsity Basketball Doubleheader in Frisch last Tuesday night. For the JV teams this would be the first of two meetings down the home-stretch of the regular season. For the varsity squads, this would be the only meeting between the two in a game that marked their first clash since the Storm upended the Cougars in the opening round of the Yeshiva Basketball League playoffs last year.
The first game of the night featured the Junior Varsity squads. The Storm entered the night at 4-3 having dropped 3 of its last 4 games, all to teams with .500 or better records. For the Cougars, at 4-2, the night would mark nearly three weeks since Frisch’s last outing, an overtime loss to SAR in Riverdale.
The 1st quarter belonged to TABC, as, despite taking 3:30 into the period to score the game’s first bucket by Andrew Haberman, the Storm held Frisch scoreless, exiting the frame with an 8-0 lead.
The Cougars finally got on the scoreboard in the 2nd quarter in major fashion. Jordan Kleinhouse hit a 3-pointer, sparking a 9-2 Frisch run over a minute stretch that saw the lead shaved to one point at 10-9, with 4:07 left in the half. The teams then traded buckets with TABC still maintaining a one point lead until J.J. Zakheim drained two free-throws to give Frisch a 13-12 lead. In total, Frisch scored 17 points in the quarter and took a 17-16 lead into the half.
In the 3rd, Frisch took charge and never looked back, outscoring TABC 11-2 behind 6 points from Mark Abromowitz and solid defense for Isaac Laifer, recording several steals in the period. As a unit the Frisch defense came alive in the quarter holding TABC to only two foul shots as their points.
The 4th quarter would be more Frisch domination as the Cougars, paced by 6 more from Abromowitz, who led the game with 12 in total, all in the second half, slowly extended their lead. TABC’s Mo Proctor, frustrated all night by the stifling Frisch defense, broke through scoring 8 in the final quarter of play, but it would not be enough, as the Cougars put up 18 in the final frame for a 46-31 victory.
The Varsity game followed a similar arc as their JV counterparts. Frisch and TABC entered the game, respectively, as the first and second place teams in the Western Conference. The Cougars, at 10-0, found themselves on the brink of clinching the top spot in the upcoming post-season, requiring only a win against the Storm to accomplish the task. But the 1st quarter proved that to be no easy feat. After Frisch opened up a 5-0 lead, the Storm pushed the pace to tie the game and proceeded to outscore Frisch 20-7 throughout the rest of the period, a run that featured TABC’s Tai Gerszberg weaving his way through five Frisch defenders for a lay-in.
In the 2nd, TABC would slow down the pace of play, throwing a curveball to both teams, with only 4 points scored in the first five minutes of the quarter, all of them from Gerszberg. The Storm would extend its lead to 12 at the break, leading 28-16. For Frisch, the bright spot in the first half was the play of Benny Tuchman, scoring 9 points to keep the Cougars afloat.
Just like the JV game, the 3rd quarter would prove to be a turning point for Frisch. Scott Levine opened up the half hitting two 3-pointers followed by 4 more points from Tuchman and a pair from Tyler Hod. With 4:21 to go in the 3rd, what had been a 12-point game three minutes earlier was now tied at 28. Then TABC gained some momentum back with a Dan Poleyoff bucket and a minute later Gerszberg, showing off his handle with a massive cross-over, buckling the Frisch defender’s knees at midcourt, drove the ball himself into the lane, laid it in and drew the foul as part of a 7-0 TABC run, seemingly putting the Storm back in control, 35-28. Frisch would answer back with a 6-0 run of its own, completing an 18-7 quarter for the Cougars, now only down 1, 35-34 headed into the final frame.
TABC soon pushed the lead out to 3 to open the 3rd on a Shua Naor coast-to-coast lay-in, with 4 points from Andrew Langer sandwiching two more from Hod. The Cougars now had their first lead, at 40-37, since the 4:52 mark of the opening period. The teams then traded baskets, and with only a few seconds left Gerszberg went to the line down 44-41 but could not hit either shot. Hod drained two more foul shots for the Cougars, icing the game 46-41. As a result, Frisch, led by Tuchman’s 16 points and Hod’s 10 points, clinched the Western Conference crown and the top seed in the West for the 2014-2015 postseason. TABC, paced by Gerszberg with 13 points, fell to 9-3, but still controls its own destiny in the race to clinch the second seed in the division as the season winds to a close.
By Elliot Weiselberg