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MYHSAL Varsity Basketball Preview

Last week the Jewish Link posted its 2018-2019 Yeshiva Hockey League season preview article. This week, we swap nets and move over to the hardwood for a preview on the Western Conference of the Varsity Basketball league.

Varsity Basketball

After the stunning events that transpired this past March, in which the Magen David Warriors toppled the Frisch Cougars in overtime, the Warriors remain the favorite in the East to return to the finals. The question still left undetermined is which western teams are prepared to challenge them for the crown.

Two years ago, the TABC Storm JV team found themselves down and out at halftime of the finals against Magen David, only to show extraordinary resiliency and nearly overcome the eventual champions. That group, like this one, is full of upper-class leadership, with Avi Proctor, Jonathan Haberman and Alex Ostrin returning. The key to getting back to YU for this group, however, will lie in its juniors. The main core of the 2018 JV champions, led by arguably the top junior in the league, Yoni Mann, will round out the Storm roster and give TABC a leg-up in the race to avenge their 2017 loss.

Speaking of a team out for revenge, the Frisch Cougars are no stranger to the finals and are chomping at the bit to get another crack at adding to the massive Frisch trophy case. Max Meyerhoff, the lone starting holdover from last year will lead a team with immense talent and even greater aspirations. Jack Reinhart will return for the Cougars and junior Eitan Dukas will add another weapon to the already-potent and proven Frisch squad.

On the heels of the Bergen County squads are the boys from Riverdale, the SAR Sting. Two years ago, this unit went 6-4 and was edged out of a first-round contest. One key detail that people need to remember is that squad accomplished what it did without the best player of their then-sophomore class, Judah Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer, now a senior, will bring with him two years of varsity experience to build on top of what that group, which includes Drew Greenbaum, Nat Waxman and Aaron Blustein, laid the groundwork for. Juniors Joe Gross and Amichai Citron should bring an added punch to a team that fell one game short of the title round last season.

The wild card team that can find itself either at the top of the division or somewhere in the middle of the pack are the Heschel Heat. The Heat have the experienced trio of seniors Jesse Abed, Charlie Sutton and Omri Benichou, all of whom were members of the Heschel varsity runner-up squad, as sophomores two years ago. The three will take charge of a group that finished in the middle of the pack last year, and are lacking in experienced upperclassmen on the whole. But, it cannot be denied that the trio, by themselves, make facing Heschel a formidable challenge for the rest of the division. If the three can carry the bulk of the work, another trip to the finals is well within their reach.

The JEC Thunder are a case-study in upper-class leadership. The Thunder have four seniors in their starting lineup, led by brothers Moshe and Aharon Heller along with Jake Goldberg and Yair Kimmel. The lone junior, Hillel Glick, is one of only four juniors on the roster. The juniors, members of last year’s one-loss JV squad will try to infuse their winning ways to a varsity team coming off a 6-8 season, and could make the difference in a middle-heavy Western Conference.

Looking to another team that will need to rely on those from last year, the MTA Lions will be almost exclusively dependent on the results of their upperclassmen. Of the 13 players on the roster, 10 of them are seniors, part of last year’s 5-9 group that finished eighth in the West. Two years ago, this squad placed third in the JV league, and they will look to replicate that success this season through the efforts of seniors Eitan Pfeiffer, Eitan Warburg and Hudy Weiss.

Hoping to be in the running for the final playoff spot are the Kushner Cobras, Hillel Heat, Waterbury Wolfpack and Ramaz Rams. The edge may lie with the Cobras who sport one of the top talents in the league in Gabe Plotzker. Plotzker posted several double-doubles and came particularly close to triple-doubles on several occasions. Despite that, Kushner went 3-11 last season and unless there is any help alongside him, the door is open for any of the other teams to edge their way in to the postseason.

By Elliot Weiselberg


Elliot Weiselberg is the host of the Court Report, the voice of the JM in the AM Sports Update for Nachum Segal airing on Tuesdays around 7:20 a.m., and a regular hockey contributor to the Yeshiva League Pass account on Instgram.

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