April 10, 2024
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Frisch JV Sweeps Through the Championship of Oren Grunbaum Invitational Tournament in Canada

The Frisch JV Cougars joined SAR and North Shore Hebrew Academy as they traveled to Canada to take on two Montreal schools, host Hebrew Academy of Montreal and the Maimonides School, in the six-game Oren Grunbaum Invitational Tournament.

The boys were met with a super-welcoming community and group of peers, and a very well-run tournament and Shabbos program. The teams also faced some new challenges north of the border, including: a 24-second shot clock, new rules on the bonus for foul shooting, and a different referee culture (more on that later).

The teams arrived in the early afternoon of Thursday, February 6, and the games started right away, with each team playing two games that day and Friday, and one on Saturday night that led up to championship Sunday.

Game 1 – Frisch v. North Shore Hebrew Academy

The Cougars came out strong looking to put the Stars away before they got settled. Sophomores John Seidel and Josh Chesner got the start and opened the scoring to get Frisch going. Using their full roster, Frisch pressed and attacked from the opening whistle. Sophomore Capt. Mayer Scharlat led the way with 10, Freshman Eli Kern had 9 points, including a sweet hook from the paint, Sophomore Scott (the “Monsey Microwave”) Levine hit a trio of 3-balls for 9, Freshman JJ Zakheim added 9 as well (and two awesome fast break assists). When the final buzzer sounded, Frisch prevailed 69-34.

Game 2 – Frisch v. Maimonides

The showcase game of the night (9:30 p.m. start) saw two teams with similar styles in a clash with international flavor. The French-speaking Maimonides players were bigger and stronger than the Cougars, and featured a 6’5” swingman who could dunk. They had earlier beaten a travel-weary SAR in their own opening game and, exhibiting a style similar to the Cougars, took advantage of the shot-clock pace of the game.

Undaunted, the JV Cougars attacked from all angles, and the multiple Frisch presses created a Maimonides turnover fest. Exceeding the pace of their Canadian adversaries, the 18-player Frisch team ran them into the ground (except for the dunk to close the scoring for Maimonides). Sophomore Capt. Andrew Langer (25 points and 10 boards) and Scharlat (20 points and 12 steals) each had a double-double to lead the way. Maimonides was overwhelmed and left muttering to themselves in French about little guys from Jersey, as Frisch took the game 83-67.

Game 3 – Frisch v. Hebrew Academy of Montreal

After an exciting day first day, the Cougars took on the host Hebrew Academy Heat (a most ironic nickname for the Montreal-based school) in day number two. The student body was allowed out of class so the gym was packed solid with navy and white uniformed students cheering the home team on. The Heat are a well-coached athletic team, led by Dr. Jake Burack, who helped organize and run the tourney. The Heat hung tough throughout but the Cougar depth was too much. As in the first two games, coaches Dovey Forman and Gabe Davidoff got everyone into the act and the Cougars, as graciously as possible, dispatched their hosts by a score of 62-39. Sacre bleu!

Game 4 – Frisch v. SAR

The two long-time Yeshiva League rivals met in the pre-Shabbos game, for the second time in a week. In the previous game last Saturday night, the Cougars held off the Sting in Paramus, 69-63 in a tough, physical contest. The physical play between the teams continued and led to one of the most bizarre scenarios seen on the court in recent memory. Twice, Frisch players were given technical fouls for yelling “And-1.” Despite attempts to explain the phrase to them, it appeared that the referees understood it to mean the players were questioning their judgment and not just getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Apparently, not everything translates. So with their lips zipped, the Cougars played their game and won by a score of 67-59.

Game 5 (Semifinal) – Frisch v. North Shore Hebrew Academy

The Saturday night game saw the Cougars hold off NSHA Stars in what will be forever remembered as the Eli Semer game. The Cougars’ manager got to suit up in the fourth quarter, hit two layups and then rocked the gym, and later the Internet, with one of the “wettest” 3- pointers ever seen on either side of the border. Every Cougar played and many scored but that fact, and that Frisch won by a score of 67-31, faded quickly to the background. As Eli was lifted into the air by his teammates after the game, the value of Frisch’s presence at this tournament and the opportunities it gave to everyone were undeniable.

Game 6 (Championship) – Frisch v. SAR

Having avenged an earlier loss by dispatching the Maimonides team in their semi-final (on the back of Dan Wisotsky’s and Eli Friedman’s hot shooting and Jake Mannis’ four clutch free throws to close the game), the SAR Sting came back for another shot at the Cougars, hoping that three would be a charm. Kubersky (19 points) and Mikey Klein (who caught fire in the first half and had 11 points total), along with Smith (12 points), Assaf Gadasi (7 points), Friedman (a big 3) and an even more vocal Kaufman almost pulled it off. In the end though, the Frisch starters used this stage to put their stamp on the tourney, along with key contributions from Scott Levine (5 points), Isaac Laifer (tough d and a 3) and Yisroel Solomon (6 clutch second-half points). Scharlat lead the scoring with 21 points and 8 steals, Langer hit for 9 points, Schechter cemented the second half, as usual, and hit for 4 key points. Weinstock boarded like a beast (another 7 for 26 total for the tournament) and continued his selfless play and dished repeatedly from the post, and Zack Cohen hit a key jumper and had two of his tourney-total 14 blocks in the fourth quarter. The final score of 63-55 reflected the teams’ hotly-contested rivalry that they will bring back home to the Yeshiva League playoffs.

Scharlat was crowned the tournament MVP. No rest for the weary though as Frisch (18-0 and

9-0 in the YL) gets ready to make up the snowed-out final regular season game with TA.

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