May 18, 2024
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JEC and Magen David Win at Satran

(JEC Sports) The January basketball classic, usually held in the second week of January in the frozen south shore of Long Island often made challenging by ice and snow, had been canceled due to Covid concerns in January 2022. But under the deft direction of Joey Hoenig, HAFTR reconstituted the 35th tournament event in Lawrence with trees blooming, buds blossoming and birds singing, as the varsity players of eight Yeshiva League teams hungry for Satran competition came to HAFTR for the annual shabbaton.

The 2022 edition of Satran included a broad cross-section of Yeshiva League teams: the host HAFTR Hawks, Ramaz Rams (YL champs), DRS Wildcats (Sarachek runner-up), Waterbury Wolfpack, North Shore Stars, JEC Thunder, Rambam Ravens and Magen David Warriors.

The Satran Tournament is no mere basketball event. It commemorates the life and accomplishments of Scott Satran, who attended and graduated HAFTR in June 1984. Scott played basketball and hockey and, despite a serious diagnosis of cancer while in high school, played and excelled. Scott attended Queens College where he even won a position on Queens’ tennis team.

On March 25, 1987, Scott passed away at the age of 20. Since then, the Satran family, and HAFTR High School class of 1984, led by Hoenig’s devotion and organizational skill, have presented the tournament to the Jewish basketball community.

In 2022, the competition among the teams was intense and exciting. In Tier 2 competition, the JEC Thunder met the DRS Wildcats for the Tier 2 ship on Sunday afternoon.

JEC had become the darling of the tournament. The Thunder had not had a full squad all season long due to injuries, Covid and other reasons. JEC played their opponents tough all season, but being undermanned, could not finish out games against the stronger Yeshiva League teams.

At Satran, JEC showed a glimmer of its team’s skill and desire. In a Friday game, the Thunder took HAFTR to double overtime before succumbing. On Saturday night, after a great shabbaton (and observing coach’s “no-chulent” on game day rule) JEC played mano-a-mano with powerful MDY, the ultimate Tier 1 championship winner, until the Warriors won that game in a dog fight.

Making it to the Tier 2 championship game against the DRS Wildcats on Sunday afternoon was a feat for the JEC squad.

DRS took an early 9-2 first quarter lead. The Wildcats advanced that lead to 18-6 in the second period, and it looked like it was going to be an easy win for DRS.

Not so fast. With the score 18-9 DRS, JEC shooting guard, junior Gavi Ness, came off the bench at the end of the first period and nailed a huge trey to keep JEC within shooting distance at 18-12.

After a change of possession JEC senior captain Akiva Hess (nine points, All-Star)nailed a last-second trey to bring JEC to within three, as the first quarter ended.

The second quarter saw DRS build its lead again to 21-15. Hess had more in his arsenal and buried another 3-pointer, and the score was 21-18.

DRS powerfully advanced the score to another seven point lead, 25-18. But with 4:53 left in the first half, power forward, junior Michael Cornick (nine points, 10 rebounds, Tier 2 MVP), buried a right corner 3 to bring JEC back to within 4, 25-21.

DRS scored again, and the score was 27-21. Off a dish from a driving Hess, junior Yosef Heller (nine points, All-Star) buried a 3 from the left slot, five feet beyond the 3-point line. The score was 27-24 … and the Heller did it again, to tie the score at 27-27.

And then, Heller did it again, to give JEC its first lead, 30-27 with 2:55 left in the first half. Not to stop at shooting, with JEC lead now at 32-27, Heller stole a pass, dribbled to the right side of the paint and laid a nifty low post pass to PF junior Akiva Sapieka (11 rebs), and converted for the score and a 34-27 JEC lead.

At the half, JEC had a 35-27 lead over DRS and the assembled crowd was stunned.

In the second half, JEC’s task was to hold that lead. JEC only had eight players and was nursing foul trouble, but off its full court 1-2-2 press and shifting zone a man to man defense, and timely foul shooting, was able to hang on to a 41-35 lead at the end of the third quarter.

DRS was able to reduce the Thunder lead to 43-41 with 2:55 to play. But the Wildcats could never get closer than the two points and won the game and the Tier 2 Tournament, 46-43.

In the Tier 1 championship, Magen David defeated host HAFTR in overtime, in an exciting, well-played and highly competitive game, by a 66-59 score. This victory was a three-peat for MDY, the Warriors’ third Satran ship in a row. Allie Dweck was Tier 1 MVP.

The event was a huge basketball, social and religious success. All of the participants are looking forward to January 2023, when they once again come to HAFTR to battle for the right to be called Satran champions.

Congrats to JEC and Magen David for their wins.

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