Thursday, August 13, 2020

Coming off a two-week layoff, the Ramaz Rams headed to the Scott Satran Memorial Tournament at HAFTR last weekend. They left with a well-earned Tier 2 championship trophy.

Ramaz played in the opening game of the entire tournament against the gritty Shaarei Torah Stars. After a back and forth first half, Shaarei Torah, displaying their trademark speed and toughness, opened up a 16 point third quarter lead. However, as is the Ramaz way, the Rams clawed back behind its tough defense and tremendous guard play to cut the deficit to two with two minutes left. Ramaz was unable to completely overcome the hurdle and fell to the Stars 47-41, but put the tournament on notice that they were going to be a force.

The next morning Ramaz was met with another formidable opponent in the DRS Wildcats. DRS, known for their stifling zone defense, put forth a tremendous defensive performance and the Rams could not locate many open looks in the smaller middle school gym. Again, the Rams found themselves in a deep hole, but this time, there was no comeback to be had and the Rams fell to 0-2 going into Friday afternoon.


Instead of feeling sorry for themselves and licking their wounds, it was at this point that Ramaz began to turn the tables. Facing a determined YDE Thunder squad that was coming off a shocking buzzer-beating victory over the number one ranked Yeshiva League team, Hillel Heat, the Rams buckled down and came out ready to fight. Behind a tremendous offensive performance by senior Ryan Leibowitz, and an excellent defensive showing, the Rams emerged with a 19 point victory as they headed into Shabbat.

After a wonderful and spiritual Shabbat filled with great food, company and divrei Torah, the Rams returned to the court Saturday night in the opening round of the Tier 2 playoffs against a tough JEC team. JEC came out ready to play and put on quite a shooting display to open up the game with an 11-0 lead. Ramaz turned to its press and struck gold. Behind a tremendous 3-point barrage by senior Sammy Aschendorf, and a swarming defensive performance led by juniors Josh Rubinchick and Jake Slochowsky, Ramaz seized the momentum in the second half and came out with a 57-47 victory to advance to the Tier 2 semi-finals.

Coming into the Scott Satran Arena on Sunday morning, Ramaz understood the tall task ahead of them. North Shore, led by junior Steven Levian, was well-rested following their first round bye. Behind another great defensive performance led by junior Spencer Rubinstein and senior Jack Fisher, Ramaz took a commanding 21-point lead after three quarters and was on their way to the finals against the Hillel Heat.

The championship game ended up as an instant classic. Hillel, who came into the tournament with a 10-1 Yeshiva League record and a well-deserved top ranking, was seeking to bring the crown back with them on their long trek to Deal. Ramaz had other ideas. Ramaz jumped out to a nine point half time lead, which it then increased to 18 in the third quarter. Hillel showed why it is so highly ranked by mounting a fierce comeback, turning the game into one for the ages as the two heavyweights traded blows. Mustering every ounce of energy they had in playing their sixth game in 72 hours, Ramaz put on a tremendous display of effort and courage. After Hillel tied the game in the last minute of regulation and then took a four point lead with less than a minute left in the first overtime, Ramaz fought back and tied the score in the final seconds of the overtime on a layup by Leibowitz. Junior Alex Zenmol hit some key baskets as Ramaz, displaying incredible mental toughness in the face of exhaustion, began to pull away in the second overtime, only to have Hillel fight back again and have a last-ditch 3-point attempt to tie the game, which fell short. Ramaz emerged with a 73-70 victory. The true star of this game, as well as the tournament, was junior Spencer Rubinstein who was awarded the
MVP trophy.

It was a memorable experience for the team, on and off the court. Ramaz would like to thank the Satran family and the entire HAFTR staff for an incredibly meaningful and enjoyable weekend. A special hakarot hatov to HAFTR athletic director and varsity coach Joey Hoenig who worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the tournament.

By Coach Eli Katz