This past Monday, the Hebrew Academy Varsity Basketball Team won its first ever national tournament, defeating Daniel Kurman and the Mesivta Rambam Ravens in the Tier II Sarachek Basketball Tournament. Warriors Rookie Ben Tal won Tier II MVP, scoring 18 points in the title clinching game. When asked about his performance, Ben had only three words to say: “O M G.”
After a crushing overtime loss at the buzzer to the TABC Storm in Sarachek’s opening round, the Warriors were relegated to the Tier II bracket. However, in true Warriors fashion, the squad made the best of the situation, beating our sister school in Montreal by a whopping 13 points and advancing to the Tier II semi-finals. To the Canadian basketball team, forward Samson Schiff quipped that the players “should work on their game before coming back across the border to play us again.”
Then it was onto a spiritual Shabbat, where the Warriors prayed for success in their next game. Little did they know that G-d would answer their prayers.
In a bloodbath between the Ida Crown Aces and the RASGHA Warriors on Sunday, the arch-rivals found themselves tied at 64 apiece with less than five seconds on the clock. After Noah Schiff inbounded the ball to shooting guard Jack Esformes, Esformes took a couple dribbles before launching a prayer towards the opposing basket. As the shot fell short, the Warriors started to brace themselves for yet another overtime game.
But Shmuel Dovid Kahn was not having any of that.
Kahn leaped into the air, grabbed the ball, and banked in the game winner as the buzzer sounded. Eyewitnesses claim that it was “like an eagle conquering its prey.”
As the Hebrew Academy fans stormed the court to celebrate the victory, chants of Shmuel rang through the air.
“When I saw it, my mind couldn’t comprehend what happened because it was such an outstanding play,” said Avi Gottlieb (12th grade), who was watching from the stands. “I jumped onto the court and ran to tackle Shmuel out of sheer joy.”
The good spirits continued into the following day, when the Warriors slipped past Rambam in a nail-biter finale with a final score of 43-41 to win the tier II championship. Joining Ben Tal with honors, were Jack Esformes and Danny Yerushalmi on the All-Tournament 2nd Team.
“We won not because of one play, but because of the whole team,” said Kahn whose buzzer beater play has gone viral with over 400,000 views on the social media sports site House of Highlights. Excellent coaching from Coach Berman and Coach Bishop, along with key contributions from role players such as Little League call-up Jacob Stein, all factored into the Warriors’ success.
The Sarachek Tournament marked the end of the Hebrew Academy basketball careers of two great players and even better guys, Michael Bixon and Samson Schiff. The Word would like to congratulate Michael and Samson on their incredible achievement and their fantastic careers. We wish them the best of luck on and off the court in all of their future endeavors.
By: Jordan Cohen