The Warriors defeated Chicago’s Ida Crown 63-51 in their opening game on Thursday to remain in tier one and face number two seed Valley Torah. According to Coach Scott Berman, the Warriors expected to be seeded higher after their successful season, but ended up as seed seven, forcing them to play Valley Torah much earlier in the tournament.
“We would have liked to play them [Valley Torah] on Sunday or Monday because it would have been really cool to get to the semifinals or the championship,” Berman said. “But the truth of the matter is, if you are trying to win a tournament, at some point you will have to beat that team anyways. We played well, they played well. At the end of the day, you got to make shots. They hit a few more shots than we did.”
The loss sent the Warriors to the tier one consolation bracket where they defeated Frisch (71-52) on Sunday and DRS (66-58) on Monday to finish in 5th place overall out of 20 teams.
“I’m disappointed that we could have won, but we all knew that we did everything we could have, that we all played our hardest,” said Jakey Stein (10th grade). “So you can’t leave thinking that you couldn’t have done anything more because the only reason we lost was because we missed shots.”
Ben Tal (12th) rejoined the team for the tournament, after missing the regular season due to Florida high school basketball regulations. Tal said he felt his reintegration into the team went smoothly.
“It felt natural because we’ve been practicing for two weeks already, but it was just really fun to be playing with my teammates again,” said Tal, who led the Warriors with a total of 111 points throughout the four games. “It was very easy- we jumped right in.”
Cheering on the team from the stands was a large contingent of students, Assistant Principal Rabbi Assaraf, and parents. The majority of the senior class and many juniors traveled to New York to watch the Warriors play in the tournament.
“The team played really, really well and they were super fun to watch because there were a lot of fans, and everyone was going crazy,” said Essence Slomianski (11th).
During the Valley Torah game, starting guard Caleb Katz (12th) was injured, making it his last game of the tournament, and, of high school.
“I think people take it for granted, every game during the season and stuff, and you start to realize at the end how important it is to everybody and how much it means,” Katz said. “I couldn’t play in the last two games and I didn’t realize that the Valley Torah game would be my last game. When you can’t play you realize how much it means to you.”
Monday’s game against DRS was the last game for the remaining four seniors, Ben Tal, Jack Esformes, Noah Schiff, and Ezrah Sultan.
“It’s sad, it’s just how it is, you know?” said Schiff. “It’s weird playing basketball now because when you used to play to become better, to be a better player, but now you have nothing to be a better player for, you know? Kids that are now going to college to play college basketball, they are still working for an end goal, but now I’m done. The shoes are being hung up, and that’s it.”
Although Coach Berman said he will miss the seniors next year, he is proud of the season they, and the rest of the team, had. With a 20-6 winning record and what he calls exceptional teamwork, Berman said this season was one of his best experiences as a coach.
“Losing your seniors will hurt,” Berman said. “I’ll miss Noah, I’ll miss Caleb, I’ll miss Jack, Ben, and Ezra. I thought they did a really good job this year. They listened to me, they bought in, they never complained. That’s always the toughest part for me, the last games together. We had a great year. They will tell you the same thing. We got close, but we didn’t get it done in the end. We didn’t win at districts, and we didn’t win Sarachek. Those are the realities. We don’t sugarcoat things. It’s not like ‘oh okay, we finished 5th.’ We did the best we could after we lost. We acknowledged that no one was satisfied with the outcome. But when you look back, it was a great season. We have won a lot of games over that past five years and they have been a big part of it. I have had Jack for four years, Noah for three, Caleb, he was the first kid I met when I first got here six years ago. It’s a special group.”
By: Shayna Boymelgreen, Mery Kamhazi, Hannah Mayer, and Cathy Safdie (11th Grade)