Frisch and TABC, two long-time Bergen County rivals, met for the Tier 1 Championship of the 2013-2014 Emunah/Rubinstein Tournament, a meaningful tzedakah event spearheaded by Flatbush Coach Avi Borenstein with help from TABC Coach Elli Orlinsky.
The two New Jersey Division leaders squared off in what was TABC’s third straight appearance in the Tier 1 final. Frisch, undefeated to date, came in off their emotional win over league powerhouse DRS.
Playing through some officiating that, at times, befuddled players, coaches and fans alike, both teams left it all on the court before Frisch prevailed by the thinnest of margins, 44-39, over a talented and tough TABC squad lead by sophomores Tai Gerzsberg, Aaron Heideman, Yehoshua Naor, Shlomo Kroopnick and Gavi Smith.
Faced with the traditionally unforgiving SAR rims and an understandably fair share of championship game nerves, the teams struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first half. The 17-13 score at the break was more indicative of shaky shooting than lockdown defense, and the teams went to the locker room looking to make the necessary adjustments.
As the third quarter began, Frisch’s trio of starting ball handlers, sophomores Noah Schechter, Andrew Langer and Mayer Scharlat were all saddled with three fouls. As with all great teams though, success and character derives from each of the players on the roster fulfilling their role—starters and substitutes alike, being ready to step in and do the job when called upon to keep the team afloat.
In Frisch’s previous game, sophomore C Gideon Benchabbat stood out as a special contributor who rose to the occasion of lifting the Cougars over the biggest team in the league, DRS. Tonight, four other sophomores showed they were ready to step up and carry the team on their shoulders.
First, sophomore Scott (The Monsey Microwave) drilled a 3-ball in the first half that provided the bulk of the 4-point lead the Cougars enjoyed at the half. The timing of the three points was critical and its impact on the complexion of the half cannot be overstated.
Second, sophomore Captain G Jon Seidel came in for the third quarter and energized the whole team with his hustle and tenacity. Forcing several loose balls and turnovers, Seidel harassed the Storm relentlessly. His clutch layup at the end of the fourth quarter capped his signature effort so far this season.
Third, starting center sophomore Zack Cohen, after defending and rebounding hard at every turn, made a driving layup and drew a foul in the fourth quarter—at a time when the ball would not seem to go down for anyone—pushing Frisch out to a lead they would not relinquish.
Fourth—but hardly least—was the contributions of sophomore F Isaac Weinstock. Weinstock, who took the challenge of moving from the backcourt to the frontcourt this season, had to be mentally and physically tired from battling the DRS big men, Perlow and Leifer, on Thursday night. If that were the case, “Stock” did not show it. TABC caught more of the same tenacity on defense and on the boards from Weinstock, and the dagger of his clutch corner jumper with less than two minutes to play put Frisch in the position to close out the ’ship. When the Frisch high-scorers are looking for whom to buy a Rolex at the end of the season, Weinstock should be at the top of the list.
After a few final free throws, the Tier 1 trophy went home to Paramus.
For TABC, Gerzsberg amazed the fans with his athleticism (and 16 points), Naor (8 points) hit a big 3-ball in the first half and anchored the front line, Heideman and Kroopnick showed great maturity and composure in their ball handling and rebounding respectively and Smith played great D and hit a key 3-pointer in the second half for the Storm.
As for the Cougars, Langer, who was named the Tier 1 Most Valuable Player—averaging 20 points per game, including a 41 point explosion against Heschel—led Frisch with 16, Schechter had 9 before fouling out, and Scharlat added 8, including 6-8 from the line.
Frisch, now 8-0 (5-0 in Yeshiva league Play) takes on Hillel JV in Deal, NJ.