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Monday, May 21, 2018

The MYHSAL hockey and basketball leagues are returning from winter break and both JV and varsity are gearing up for 10 days of high-intensity action to close out the 2017-2018 regular season. As one would expect, despite how close we are to the post-season, there is still much up in the air as it relates to the JV and varsity West. Here is a comprehensive look at what can happen for each team still in the hunt for the post-season:

Varsity hockey, varsity basketball and JV basketball all use the following playoff format:

The top six teams in the East and the West qualify.

The top two teams are awarded automatic byes into the quarterfinals.

The first round stays “in-division” with the third seed hosting the sixth seed and the fourth seed hosting the five seed.

The winners will cross over to the opposite division with the lowest remaining first round winner playing the #1 seed of the opposing division and the highest remaining first round winner playing the #2 seed of the opposing division.

The playoffs follow the olympic style bracket where the seeds in each bracket alternate from the divisions.

The higher seed will host.

The winners of the two brackets will meet in the finals in Lawrence Middle School in Lawrence, on March 18.

Basketball

Varsity Basketball West

W-L     Total Possible Wins                 Remaining Games

Frisch             12-0     14                    2/6 @ SAR, 2/8 @ Heschel

SAR                11-1     13                    2/4 @ MTA, 2/6 vs. Frisch

Heschel           8-4      10                    2/4 @ TABC, 2/8 vs. Frisch

Waterbury       7-6      8                      2/5 @ Kushner

Ramaz              6-5      9                      1/30 vs. TABC, 2/5 @ JEC, 2/7 vs. Kushner

TABC            6-6       8                      1/30 @ Ramaz, 2/4 vs.Heschel

MTA              5-7       7                      1/30 @ Magen David, 2/4 vs. SAR

Kushner            3-8      6                      2/3 @ JEC, 2/5 vs. Waterbury, 2/7 @ Ramaz

JEC                4 -7      7                      2/3 vs. Kushner, 2/5 vs. Ramaz, 2/7 vs. Hillel

The West splits into two races, with a two-team race at the top and seven teams all presently in limbo. It is interesting to note that there are several important matchups between teams fighting for similar positions. The last week and a half of the regular season is certain to be hotly contested down to the last night of the regular season.

Frisch Cougars and SAR Sting

These two teams have the top two spots and the first-round byes locked up. Now, it’s all about who gets the one seed. Should Frisch win the game on 2/6, the Cougars would have the top seed, outright. If Frisch loses to SAR, things get interesting. If SAR goes 2-0 and Frisch goes 0-2 over the stretch, SAR will have the better record and the top seed. However, if the teams wind up tied at 13-1 or 12-2, the analysis turns to strength of schedule to determine the top seed. The two teams mostly have the same schedule but have four games that vary from each other. Frisch played extra games against Heschel and TABC, with YDE and DRS as their cross games, while SAR played extra games against MTA and Waterbury, with HAFTR and Flatbush as their cross. A quick analysis of the combined records of these four teams puts Frisch at six win advantage with only six left for SAR to gain. What that means is that, for SAR to have a chance to TIE Frisch in this scenario, MTA, Waterbury, HAFTR and Flatbush would all need to win their remaining games while Heschel, TABC, YDE and DRS would need to lose all of theirs. This is an extremely unlikely scenario, but should it come to fruition, we would then need to go to the wins/percentage vs. other playoff teams, an analysis that, due to the uncertainty of who will make the playoffs, is highly difficult to figure out at the present moment.

Most important game remaining: Circle 2/6 on your calendar and go see this game.

Heschel Heat

Heschel has clinched a playoff berth and will host a first-round home game. The problem for the Heat will now be fending off a team like Ramaz down the back-stretch for the third seed. Heschel needs only one win in their final two games, however, that will not be easy to come by. Heschel will play both “Route-4” teams, TABC, who are thick in the hunt for a playoff spot, and Frisch, who need the win to lock up the top spot in the division. Two losses will open the door for Ramaz to sneak in with a decidedly easier schedule and grab the three spot.

Most important game remaining: 2/4 @ TABC. Given that the alternative is Frisch, it’ll be easier for Heschel to try to take this game and approach the game against Frisch as loose as possible to attempt the upset. It’ll be immeasurably harder for them to get the job done against the Cougars having lost to the Storm than it would be to just defeat the Storm themselves.

Waterbury Wolfpack

In their first season in the MYHSAL, the Wolfpack have clinched a playoff berth. While they have not mathematically clinched, the tiebreakers make it a near certainty that they will fight on into the post-season. With only one game to go, against Kushner, Waterbury is in line to push for a first-round home game. If they do not get there, though, they will rue the second half collapse that they suffered at the hands of Ramaz that could have finished the deal and put them in line for the three seed. Instead, even with a win over Kushner, two Ramaz wins or two TABC wins will drop Waterbury out of the “host” slot. It is also possible for both of those to occur, which would force the Wolfpack all the way to the back into the sixth slot.

Most important game remaining: 2/5 @ Kushner. There are several that Waterbury really need, but in this case, the best thing that the Wolfpack can do is to close out their playoff spot and hope for the best.

Ramaz Rams and TABC Storm

The Rams and Storm could not have given us a more compelling better situation. While Ramaz currently sits in the fifth position, the remaining games give them a fighting chance of jumping all the way up to the third slot, if they play their cards correctly. Three wins will get the job done, or two, as long as one of them is against TABC. For Ramaz, though, a loss to TABC is not fatal. Ramaz has both JEC and Kushner down the stretch and with TABC still having to face Heschel, the Rams can sneak into the fourth spot with an 8-6 record should TABC finish at 7-7. For TABC, sitting in sixth place, at 6-6, the game against Ramaz is a near “must-win.” A loss to the Rams would keep TABC open to two of the three teams behind them and with Heschel as their last game, a 6-8 season would require other teams to finish the job for them. Don’t rule out, however, the possibility that these two teams could meet up again in a few weeks in a first-round game.

Most important game remaining: The extremely well-timed game against each other. For the Rams, it’s the hardest game on their remaining road to a potential three seed. For the Storm, it’s the easiest.

MTA Lions, Kushner Cobras and JEC Thunder

These three teams do not have the odds in their favor, as one loss ends any and all hope of a post-season berth. MTA, the team in the best position of the three, at 5-7, will need to defeat both undefeated Magen David and one-loss SAR, and then get help in order to be in line for a post-season berth. One loss puts an end to MTA’s hopes and it could come right away on the first Tuesday back in action after break. For Kushner and JEC, the two teams will face each other first. Should Kushner lose, they are out, and JEC will be one game behind the loser of the Ramaz-TABC game, with a game against Ramaz and then against last place Hillel. Should JEC lose, the Thunder will be eliminated because, they would be, at best 6-8, with no tiebreakers over any team they could be tied win, even Ramaz, whom they could still beat and tie their regular season meetings at 1-1, but would lose out on the strength of schedule analysis. Kushner, however, would still be alive at the same record, as they could still defeat Ramaz to tie up their regular season meeting (assuming Ramaz loses to TABC and JEC to be at 6-8) and would have a better strength of schedule. If Ramaz defeats TABC, however, Kushner is eliminated. Additionally, any 6-8 analysis goes out the window as TABC holds the tie-break over each of these three teams.

Most important game remaining: For each team, it’s their next contest. MTA needs to knock off Magen David for anything else to matter, and the other two teams need to survive the other before they can hope to make a play for any playoff spot. If there is one team that is most likely to come out of this group of three, it would have to be the Thunder. JEC has the easiest schedule ahead and carries the most momentum, having won four of their last five games, including Kushner. That’s not an endorsement that they will, as Ramaz will prove to be a formidable foe for whomever wins the contest, but if there had to be a “favorite,” it would be them.

JV Basketball West

W-L     Total Possible Wins     Remaining Games

Frisch 9-0       10                    2/5 @ Westchester

JEC     7-1       9                      2/4 @ MTA, 2/6 vs. Hillel

TABC 7-2       8                      2/4 vs. Heschel

SAR    6-3       7                      2/1 vs. Westchester

Ramaz             5-4       6          2/6 @ MTA

Heschel           4-4       6          1/31 vs. MTA, 2/4 @ TABC

Hillel   4-5       5                      2/6 @ JEC

MTA   3-4       6                      1/31 @ Heschel, 2/4 vs. JEC, 2/6 vs. Ramaz

The top of the JV basketball West will fill out nicely with 1-4 being determined with a very small amount of drama. The same can’t be said for the bottom two spots, which could become a huge mess for the league.

Frisch Cougars

Frisch has wrapped up the #1 seed and will enjoy a first-round bye. The only thing standing in the way of a perfect regular season is winless Westchester. That shouldn’t pose a problem for them as they gear up for their playoff run.

JEC Thunder and TABC Storm

These two teams will fight for the final first-round bye slot. JEC has the advantage with one less loss and a game “in-hand,” as well as the head-to-head tie-break. Therefore, a JEC win or a TABC loss will give the higher spot to JEC. TABC’s only hope is to defeat Heschel and hope for two JEC slip-ups.

SAR Sting

The Sting will be the West #4 seed and will host the #5 seed in the first round.

Ramaz Rams, Heschel Heat, Hillel Heat and MTA Lions

Of the four teams fighting for the final two spots, Ramaz is the only team that controls its own destiny. Should it defeat MTA, it will be the fifth seed. The sixth seed will then come down to whether Heschel can win out. Otherwise, there remains a possibility of a three-way tie that could come down to a three-way play-in game session. If Ramaz loses, there remains the possibility of a four-way tie at 5-5, but, oddly enough, that scenario is easier to figure out with MTA taking the five seed and Ramaz the six, as MTA and Ramaz would have to hold the head to head tie-break over the other two. Hillel is in the worst situation as the Heat need to win and then hope that MTA beats Heschel, and then both of those teams must lose their remaining games for that Heat squad to make it outright.

Varsity Hockey West

W-L-T-OTL                Possible Points            Remaining Games

TABC 11-1-0-0          22 pts  26                    2/3 vs. Kushner, 2/7 @ Frisch

SAR    10-0-0-1          21 pts  27                    1/29 @ MTA, 1/31 @ Ramaz, 2/5 vs. Ramaz

Frisch  8-3-1-0            17 pts  21                    1/31 vs. Hillel, 2/7 vs. TABC

MTA   8-3-0-0            16 pts  22                    1/29 vs. SAR, 2/6 @ JEC, Game @ Hillel (TBA)

Kushner 5-5-0-1          11 pts  17                    2/3 @ TABC, 2/5 vs. Hillel, Game @ JEC (TBA)

JEC     4-7-0-0            8 pts    14                    2/3 @ Westchester, 2/6 vs. MTA, Game vs. Kushner                                                                        (TBA)

Ramaz 4-7-0-0            8 pts    14                    1/31 vs. SAR, 2/5 @ SAR, Game vs. Hillel (TBA)

Hillel   3-7-0-0            6 pts    14                    1/31 @ Frisch, 2/5 @ Kushner, Game vs. MTA                                                                                 (TBA), Game vs. Ramaz (TBA)

 

The varsity West carries a massive amount of drama into the final week of the season. The only West team that has been eliminated is Westchester. Four teams have clinched playoff berths and four are fighting for the final two spots. Where everyone goes will be determined over the course of nine to 12 games that still have yet to be played. Below is your guide to following the varsity West for the next eight days:

TABC Storm

The Storm have already locked up a first-round bye and are fighting for the varsity West #1 seed. The problem for the Storm is that they do not control their own destiny. If SAR wins their last three games, they will earn the top seed in the West regardless of what the Storm do. The Storm do, presently, hold the tie-break over SAR as, unless TABC ties or loses in overtime in either of their last two games, the Storm will have more wins than the Sting. All TABC can do is win out and hope for a slip up from SAR.

Most important game remaining: 2/7 @ Frisch. Not so much for any playoff seeding, as they will know by that point whether SAR has the #1 seed locked up, but more for what winning the game means. Playing a game against your biggest rival as the last game of the season before heading into the playoffs can either do wonders for a team or it can be debilitating. The winner of this game will have taken out their rival, a team fighting for playoff positioning, and will now get to head into the postseason with that momentum can boost morale and create momentum heading into the postseason. On the other hand, the loser will have taken their lumps from a rival, lost ground in the race for a higher playoff spot and now has to deal with the frustration of a loss heading into a “win or die” playoff game. For TABC, a loss means that they will have two weeks to dig themselves out from a loss, but that’s also two weeks for the frustration to mount, as well, and when your next game is going to be against an Eastern team who has the momentum of already winning a playoff game, such a loss could be just the edge that a #3 seed needs to overcome the odds. Coach Mo Fuchs will certainly be able to help smooth over any lumps that TABC could take in this game, but it would obviously be better for the Storm to not have to deal with it at all.

SAR Sting

SAR has clinched a first-round bye and has inside track to the top seed in the West. The math is simple for the Sting: Three wins. They will have a rematch with an MTA team battling for the #3 seed and home-and-home with a Ramaz squad fighting for a playoff spot. The Sting have already dispatched of MTA but will need to do it again in MTA. The two games with Ramaz will be interesting in that Ramaz has always presented as a thorn in SAR’s side, despite not usually pulling out the W.

Most important game remaining: 1/31 @ Ramaz. The MTA game will be important, as MTA is a good team that played them decently, however, Ramaz may pose a bigger threat , with SAR having no prior experience this year against the Rams, now having to go into the rubber floor against a desperate team needing points to claw back to the postseason. The MTA game will likely be the better game, but it’s more important for SAR to keep Ramaz down on the road so that there is no momentum given to the Rams when they head into SAR, where the Sting should, otherwise, easily take care of them.

Frisch Cougars

Frisch has clinched a first-round home game and will either finish with the West #3 or West #4 seed. The win over HAFTR prior to the break improved their odds to reach the three seed, but they are still at the mercy of MTA, who, despite being one point behind the Cougars, have one game in-hand. Frisch plays Hillel to open up the post-break slate, with a win putting pressure on MTA to have to win two of their last three, and then plays TABC, where a win would force MTA to run the table.

Most important game remaining: 2/7 vs. TABC. For all of the reasons mentioned above in the analysis for TABC as well as the nugget about the pressure put on MTA. While not assuming the outcome of the Frisch-Hillel game, the play of the two teams suggests that Frisch will win. Should Frisch defeat TABC as well, MTA would need to defeat SAR in order to have a shot at the three seed. For Frisch, the three seed is important, as it will line them up to play the East two  seed in the quarterfinals, a potential rematch with HAFTR in HAFTR. Then again, Frisch may not necessarily care, as, should they wind up in the four seed after a well-played loss to TABC, they would line up to play TABC in the quarters with a win in the first round and, should they be victorious, would move on to potentially play DRS in the semifinals, a team that they’ve tied with this year.

MTA Lions

The Lions can finish as high as the third seed or as low as the fifth seed, but have clinched a postseason berth. The road to a first-round home game is simple. Earn a point in any of their last three games and they’ll host, otherwise they’ll need a slip from Kushner to clinch that privilege. MTA, however, has their eyes set on the third seed and will be locked in the race with Frisch to get there, as mentioned above.

Most important game remaining: 2/7 TABC @ Frisch. For MTA, it’s now a matter of what they need, to do to reach the third seed and that need is driven more by what Frisch does. MTA can afford one loss in any of their three remaining games, which includes SAR, and still take the three seed by winning the other two, so long as TABC defeats Frisch. Given that it comes after the SAR and JEC games, the outcome of the TABC-Frisch game will determine whether MTA has already locked up the three seed (if Frisch loses to Hillel), needs to play the game against Hillel (if Frisch defeats Hillel but loses to TABC), or whether they are already out of the race (if Frisch wins out and MTA has already suffered a loss or tie).

Kushner Cobras

Of the four remaining teams, Kushner has the best odds to clinch a berth. They currently hold a three point lead on JEC and Ramaz and a five point lead on Hillel. The Cobras can effectively help themselves down the stretch, as they play both JEC and Hillel. Any combination of two wins, or one win and a loss by any of the other two teams that they did not defeat, will clinch the berth for them. This analysis can also be eased should they take any points off of TABC. However, in-truth, Kushner can really just sit back and watch. With Ramaz and Hillel having tough schedules, and JEC being inconsistent this year, Kushner can find itself in the postseason with minimal effort. However, it must be careful, as being too lax could lead to problems with JEC having a manageable schedule down the stretch and cost Kushner the fifth seed.

Most important game remaining: The game against JEC. Ironically, this game doesn’t even necessarily need to be played. Assuming that the “better records” win every game, Kushner will have 13 points, Hillel will finish with six and JEC and Ramaz will finish with 10. In which case, Kushner gets the fifth seed and JEC, no matter what happens in the game against Kushner, will get the sixth seed due to holding the tie-break over Ramaz. So why is this game more important than any other, even if it may not happen? Well, mostly because it means that if it is necessary, something really interesting and unexpected has occurred along the way.

JEC Thunder, Ramaz Rams and Hillel Heat

These three teams are effectively fighting for one playoff spot barring a few miracles and a massive Kushner collapse. The advantage presently goes to the Thunder, who hold the tie-break advantage over both teams. With Ramaz and Hillel having tough stretches ahead of them, JEC can take advantage of the fact that they still need to play Westchester. A JEC win over Westchester will force Ramaz to have to take at least a point against SAR and for Hillel to have to take at least five points in a four game stretch that includes Frisch, as well as Kushner, Ramaz and MTA, the last three of whom have already decisively defeated Hillel this season. Should JEC also upset MTA or Kushner, Hillel’s chance will be slim to none and it will force Ramaz to have needed at least a win against SAR, something that they have not indicated that they are able to do thus far. For the Heat, while they are in this race, it’s extremely tough to put any stock in them, given that their three wins have come against teams where the combined win between them was a forfeit to the other. For the purposes of due diligence, should JEC and Ramaz win out and Kushner only get two points in their final three games, both JEC and Ramaz would jump over Kushner and the Cobras would be on the outside looking in.

Most important game remaining: 1/31 Ramaz vs. SAR. While not awarding the game against Westchester to JEC outright, it seems safe to say that the Thunder will wind up with those two points. As stated above, this forces Ramaz to need to take a point against SAR. If it’s going to happen, it’s more likely for it to come at home, as opposed to the rink in Riverdale. If the Rams can take advantage of the bounces of their home court and pull out a point, it will make things a little more complicated for the Thunder. Ramaz would then play Hillel, with the opportunity to jump over JEC, who would need to defeat MTA or Kushner to secure their spot.

JV Hockey West

The JV hockey league skips the first round and goes straight to the quarterfinals. The playoffs are structured as follows:

The top four teams in each division will earn playoff spots. The top two teams in each division will host

The playoffs follow the olympic style bracket where the seeds in each bracket alternate from the divisions.

The higher seed will host.

The winners of the two brackets will meet in the finals in Lawrence Middle School in Lawrence, NY on March 18.

W-L-T-OTL                Possible Points            Remaining Games

Frisch                          7-0-0-1   15 pts 19        2/3 vs. JEC, 2/7 vs. TABC

TABC                         7-1-0-0   14 pts 18        2/3 vs. Kushner, 2/7 @ Frisch

Kushner                       6-1-2-0  14 pts 16        2/3 @ TABC

SAR                            6-3-0-0  12 pts 14        1/31 @ Ramaz

JEC                             5-3-1-0  11 pts 13        2/3 @ Frisch

Frisch, TABC and Kushner have each clinched berths and all still have chances at the top spot.

Frisch Cougars and TABC Storm

Frisch and TABC have very similar paths. Either could be as high as the #1 seed or as low as the three seed. Both teams are in action twice this week, with TABC facing Kushner and Frisch facing JEC, prior to their showdown on 2/7. The fly in Frisch’s ointment is their overtime loss to Kushner. It effectively ensures that, outside of one unlikely scenario, if the two teams end up with the same number of points at the end of the season, TABC will hold the tie-break. The Cougars can hope for a win over JEC and for Kushner to pull off the win over the Storm, and win the division that way, however, it is more likely that it’ll come down to a one-game, winner-take-all, showdown between these two, which, given how intertwined these two teams have been over the years, seems only fitting.

Kushner Cobras

Kushner sits in an interesting position as the only team that could finish in any of the four playoff spots. After handing Frisch an overtime loss prior to the break, Kushner has saved their postseason hopes and kept their dreams at the top seed alive, however slim. Currently, Kushner is third, however, their record does not make it favorable for them to win any tiebreakers as they will likely be one win behind anyone that they are tied with, in all but one scenario. A loss or a tie will not. If Kushner defeats TABC on 2/3 and JEC defeats Frisch on 2/3 and Frisch and TABC tie, Kushner and Frisch would finish with 16 points and TABC would finish with 15. Kushner would hold a record of 7-1-2 while Frisch would be 7-2-0-1 and Kushner would hold the head to head tiebreaker, giving Kushner the division crown, putting Frisch second and TABC third. There are many more likely scenarios placing Kushner in the second and third spot, however, it’s important to note that, only a win against TABC will make Kushner eligible for a higher spot. A tie will only guarantee Kushner the three. A loss will put the Cobras at risk of the fourth seed depending on what happens with SAR, below.

SAR Sting

SAR cannot advance higher than the third spot. The Sting control their own destiny as it pertains to clinching a playoff berth and have the benefit of facing Ramaz, the only team in the league without a point in the standings this year. All SAR needs is one point, so as long as either they defeat Ramaz in regulation or go to overtime, they will advance ahead of JEC, either on points (14 -13) or on tiebreakers (SAR owns the head to head). Should SAR win their game against Ramaz, they will sit in the three seed, pending the outcome of TABC-Kushner. Should Kushner lose in regulation, SAR will be the three, Kushner will be the four. Any other outcome will place SAR in the fourth spot.

JEC Thunder

The Thunder are on life support and in need of major help. They, currently, are on the outside looking in after losing to SAR in their last game, prior to the break. Now, they are forced to jump over SAR in order to get into the postseason. The only scenario that helps JEC is a doozy: The Thunder need to defeat the top team in the division, Frisch, and have SAR lose to Ramaz, a team that has yet to win a game this season. The odds are certainly not in their favor, but we’ve seen stranger things happen in this league. JEC will effectively know after the Ramaz-SAR game on 1/31 whether they still have anything left to fight for.

Elliot Weiselberg is the host of the Court Report on the Nachum Segal Network as well as the voice of the JM in the AM Sports Update for Nachum Segal airing on Tuesdays around 7:20 a.m. Elliot has served in numerous capacities including referee, analyst and commentator, and currently coaches the YCQ junior high hockey Wildcats.