As students and fans from across the yeshiva league packed into the TABC gym for a double header between the Storm and their rival, the Frisch Cougars, the scene was set for a great night of basketball. With brothers Mo and Avi Proctor both out with injuries, TABC knew they were facing an uphill battle to victory.
The JV Cougars had not lost a single game in two years and were playing as well as ever, but TABC was hungry to end that streak. The first quarter was shaky for TABC, who had to adjust to a smaller lineup with sophomore guard Akiva Hain starting in Proctor’s place. Sophomores Joe Baron and Yechiel Keiser were subbed in to help handle Frisch’s size, and brought some much needed energy to keep the game close. Nonetheless, with the Storm only scoring five points in the first quarter, they entered the second with an eight point deficit. However, that quickly changed thanks to lock down defense by TABC, who shut out the Cougars in the second quarter. Sophomore Gabe Gerszberg subbed in, and his aggressive defense played a key part in TABC’s success in slowing down Frisch’s potent offense. Thanks to scoring from sophomore forward Alex Ostrin, and the speedy freshman point guard Yoni Mann, TABC went on a 9-0 run and finished the half up one. In the third quarter, with freshman center Amichai Citron struggling to handle Frisch’s multiple big men on defense, Coach Oz subbed in freshman Shmuli Coates who brought energy and successfully manned the paint. TABC continued to outplay their rival, and entered the fourth quarter with a six point lead. The Storm then went on another run, with Mann and sophomore guard Jonathan Haberman scoring to put TABC up eleven. The Cougars managed to cut the lead to six, but great free throw shooting by Ostrin and Haberman kept TABC ahead to finish with a win. TABC handed Dovey Forman and the Cougars their first loss in two years, and have finally dethroned Frisch as the top basketball school. With a likely victory against winless Westchester next week, TABC would clinch the number one seed in the league and home field advantage for the playoffs.
After losing to the Cougars earlier in the season, the varsity Storm entered the game seeking revenge against their rival. They opened the game with strong shooting and found an early lead, but two consecutive and-ones in the last seconds of the quarter gave the Cougars a five point advantage. In the second quarter, the Cougars were able to expose the holes in the TABC defense, and went on an eighteen to five run, to put TABC at an eighteen point deficit going into halftime. Mo Proctor’s absence was clearly felt, as it was hard for TABC to keep up without his size and athleticism. During halftime, the Storm really took Coach Oz’s speech to heart, and they came out in the second half looking like a completely different team. With amazing shooting by senior guards Andrew Haberman and Raanan Kimmel, as well as shutdown defense by the entire team, TABC held the Cougars to seven points. They entered the fourth quarter down four, and were now well within striking distance. With forty seconds left and TABC down five, Kimmel nailed a three to cut the lead to two. After two missed free throws from Frisch, TABC caught a huge break when junior center Yoni Fine was fouled, and had a chance to tie up the game. With fans on the edge of their seats, Fine nailed both shots. Frisch brought the ball up looking for a final shot before the buzzer, but with five seconds left junior guard Efrayim Saks stole the ball and took it up the court for a floater from the free throw line at the buzzer to win the game. Everybody was stunned by the insane finish, but TABC finally had their win against Frisch and the fans went wild. TABC found themselves in the middle of the pack, but with newfound confidence after the huge win, they look to finish their regular season strong with games versus Heschel and at SAR before entering the playoffs hoping to do some serious damage.
With the night bringing huge wins for both teams, the entire school was ecstatic about the amazing games and Coach Oz was very proud of the hard fought victories. However, the celebrations won’t last long, as both teams need to get back to work in order to gear up for the playoffs where they hope to end the drought for the TABC basketball program by winning their first championship.
By Eli Rifkind