Going into last season the RYNJ Jaguars and the Noam Knights were the favorites to face off for the YMSSA seventh grade boys championship. Their first meeting almost a year ago, Noam’s Charlie Furer hit three huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the final one giving the Knights a one point lead with less than a minute to play. RYNJ’s Rafi Karrasik answered back, nailing a huge mid range shot to give the Jaguars the win and the Knights their first loss of the season. The momentum of that victory carried the Jaguars to their first ever boys basketball championship (along the way they defeated the Knights twice more once in the semifinals) and the Noam Knights hungry for redemption.
In the off-season both teams hired new coaches, but the rosters were mostly the same as the RYNJ Jaguars headed west on Route 4 to play the Noam Knights on Tuesday November 8.
As expected, the RYNJ dynamic duo of Akiva Jacoby and Eli Weirderkher came out shooting—scoring all 14 of the Jaguars’ first quarter points. Noam’s Isaac Stepner and Judah Suss were not to be outdone and notched a combined 20 points to give Noam the advantage after one quarter. The second quarter saw both teams ramp up the defense, as RYNJ battled back and took a 30-29 advantage into the half. The second half was more of the same, with RYNJ and Noam trading stops and baskets. When the smoke cleared and the final buzzer sounded the Noam Knights walked away with a hard fought 53-51 victory.
The two teams met again on Monday January 2. The stage seemed eerily familiar as Noam entered play undefeated, with both teams on top of the standings. Coaches from other schools came to scout and even YMSSA commissioner Dovey Forman was in attendance.
RYNJ’s Eli Weiderkher started the scoring with a nothing-but-net 3-pointer. Judah Suss answered right back a three of his own and this set the back-and-forth tone of the first half. When the first half came to an end, the Jaguars were clinging to a 25-23 lead. In the second half, Jacoby turned on takeover mode, scoring 18 of his game high 25 points and proved to be more than the Noam Knights could handle that night as RYNJ tied the season series with a 63-55 victory.
The loss likely cost the Knights the number one spot, as Hillel and Kushner are both working on undefeated regular seasons in the other division. Hillel and Kushner will meet on January 10 (after this article was written), and only one will walk away undefeated and in possession of the number one seed. Assuming the Jaguars and Knights win their remaining games, the Knights will capture the number two seed. The remaining playoff picture will be decided in the few remaining games, the January 10 game, first and foremost; but the January 25 game between MDS and Kushner, will also be very important in deciding the playoff seeding.
By Jewish Link Staff