In its six years of existence, the gym has never been more packed.
Last night a crowd of hundreds filled the gym to watch the varsity boys basketball team take on the Champagnat Catholic Lions in the district championship. Although the Warriors fell short of the district title, their win over Somerset Prep on Tuesday in the semi-finals confirmed their spot in the regional tournament. Their appearance in next Thursday’s regional game will mark the first time the Warriors have made it this far in 13 years.
“The crowd really hyped us up and helped the other team miss a lot of free-throws, and it just brought such a great energy to the game that really helped us out,” David Lurie (12th grade) said. “I was really nervous before the game, but when I saw everyone so loud on the side, it helped me calm down, and it got me in the moment; I was able to play in the moment and not let nerves pull me down, and I played as hard as I could.”
Throughout the regular season, the Warriors tallied up more losses than wins, making playoff success a long shot. Yet they used their frequent losses as motivation instead of giving in to their low expectations.
“I think everyone doubted us, we haven’t had a great record this year,” said Coach Scott Berman. “We had something to prove, and I told them in the pregame ‘you know what everyone’s been saying, you know it’s been a disappointing regular season, but we can change that whole mindset right now and prove everyone wrong.’ And that’s how they played.”
Monday’s first round win against Posnack set the tone for how the Warriors and the entire school would approach the playoffs. The environment in the gym was nothing like the school had seen in the past. The passionate cheering and excitement accelerated the Warriors to their biggest contest of the season. The atmosphere in the gym on Tuesday was even more electric than the day before as there were little expectations for the Warriors to come out with a win. An emotional and hard fought game with help from the fans had Somerset Prep stunned as the Warriors overcame the odds and won.
“What we’ve been through the past 30 days, that win last night, it was a wonderful win for the team, sure, but it was a wonderful win for the community, and for our school. That was really cool. I was happy to be a part of giving a moment like that to our kids,” said Coach Scott Berman.
Once again, the Warriors came in as underdogs in the district championship game on Thursday against the top seeded Champagnat Catholic Lions. The tension leading up to the final contest was felt by not only the team, but by the rest of the school and the extended community as well. The Warriors fought hard for every point and rebound, but a third upset was not in the cards. They ended three points shy of a victory, but hope to bounce back for regionals next week.
“I think we have, well for me, I have something that’s driving me to win,” said Alex Farkas (12th).
Next week’s game will take place in Jupiter on Thursday, February 21.
“[Tuesday] was the greatest game I have ever been to in my entire Hebrew Academy career. Fact. Sarachek tournament, L.A. tournament, previous playoff games and it wasn’t because we won. The winning part was really awesome and I cannot take any of that away, but I felt that the school was so united and it was so fun to be in that kind of atmosphere,” Assistant Principal Rabbi Aharon Assaraf said.