Monday, June 17, 2019

The MYHSAL hockey and basketball leagues have hit the end of 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 postseason, there is still much up in the air as we enter the final push for a tournament berth. Here is a comprehensive look at what can happen in five of the six leagues for each team still in the hunt for the postseason:

Varsity Hockey

Given the trimming of the number of teams in varsity hockey entering the 2018-2019 season, the number of playoff participants has dropped from 12 to 10, with the fourth and fifth seeds from each conference crossing over to meet their opposites (East 4 vs. West 5, West 4 vs. East 5) and the winner taking over the respective fourth seed’s spot in the traditional playoff bracket. Only seven games remain for both the East and West, of which, at most, five have the potential to impact playoff seedings.

Varsity Hockey East

In the East, only one game will have an impact on the remaining proceedings. DRS (13-0, 26 pts), HAFTR (11-2, 22 pts) and Flatbush (8-6, 14 pts) have already locked up seeds #1-3 and quarter-final berths. Rambam (5-8, 10 points,) has one game remaining against SSLI, but has wrapped up the #4 spot based on tiebreakers with Magen David (5-9, 10 points) and HANC (4-9, eight points), who can only, at best, end up even with the Ravens. As a result, Rambam will host the West #5 seed in a play-in game with the winner heading out to play the Western Conference #1 seed.

The only remaining spot up for grabs is the East #5 seed. Magen David currently holds the spot, but it will come down to HANC’s remaining game with North Shore to determine who will advance. If HANC defeats North Shore, it will end up tied with Magen David, however, HANC will hold the tiebreak by virtue of their greater strength of schedule computation. Any other result than a HANC victory will result in Magen David earning the East #5 seed, sending them to face the West #4 seed in a play-in game with the winner slated to play East #1 DRS in the quarterfinals.

Varsity Hockey West

Out West, all five playoff participants have been determined, however, it will come down to four games to determine seeding. Frisch (13-0, 26 pts) has locked up the division crown and will face the winner of the East #4 Rambam vs. #5 West play-in game. TABC (10-3, 20 pts) has secured the West #2 seed and will host East #3 Flatbush in the quarterfinals. Ramaz (8-3-1, 17 pts), Kushner (7-5, 14 pts) and SAR (5-4-1-3, 14 pts) have all clinched playoff berths and will populate the West #3-5 seeds. Currently, Ramaz is in control of the West #3 seed, needing two points in their last two games (vs. Frisch 1/28, vs. MTA 1/30) to lock the seed up which brings with it a trip to East #2 HAFTR in the quarterfinals. Any less than two points, and the door is open for Kushner to sneak in and grab the spot. Kushner currently sits in fourth, by virtue of having more wins than SAR, but can move up to the #3 spot if they win their last two games (at TABC 1/30; at SAR 1/31) and Ramaz does not obtain the two points that they need. Gaining only one point will not help the Rams escape being downgraded under this scenario as a tie at 18 points would slide in favor of Kushner, who would have more wins (nine) than Ramaz (eight).

Should Kushner not gain the full complement of four points in their last two games, Ramaz will enjoy the #3 seed and Kushner would fight with SAR for the West #4 seed. In that race, Kushner holds the cards by virtue of having two more wins (seven) than SAR (five), with SAR only having the game with Kushner remaining. Therefore, should Kushner and SAR remain tied in points at the end of the season, Kushner will grab the higher seed. The only way that this can be avoided for SAR is for Kushner to lose their final two games, with no more than one loss coming in overtime or by Kushner tying TABC and losing to SAR in regulation. Should either of those scenarios happen, it will be SAR gaining the West #4 seed, hosting the East #5 seed (Magen David or HANC) with the winner earning the right to face East #1 DRS while Kushner would be forced into the West #5 seed and have to travel to East #4 Rambam in the first round for the right to play West #1 Frisch.

JV Hockey

The junior varsity playoff format remains the same with the top four teams in each division earning playoff spots and crossing over in a traditional Olympic tournament format. Only five games remain in the JV schedule with four holding playoff implications.

JV Hockey West

The JV West playoff teams are broken into two groups. The top group will consist of Kushner (9-0, 18 points) and TABC (8-1, 16 points). For those two teams, only one game remains, with each other, on January 30th. Kushner only needs to earn at least one point, either by going to overtime or winning outright in order to earn the West #1 seed and the right to host the East #4 seed in the Quarterfinals. The only scenario that will work for TABC to gain the top seed would be to defeat Kushner in regulation, otherwise, they will be relegated to the West #2 seed will host the East #3 seed.

The bottom group consists of SAR (6-3-0-1, 13 pts) and Ramaz (6-3, 12 pts). Only Ramaz has a game remaining (vs. Flatbush, 1/31), and so they remain in control of their own fate. Ramaz only needs at least one point to capture the West #3 seed, by virtue of having beaten Ramaz for the tiebreak. Should they win or at least go to overtime, Ramaz will earn the West #3 seed and travel to the East #2 seed while SAR will drop to the West #4 seed and will need to battle the top seed in the East. A Ramaz regulation loss will signal the exact opposite.

JV Hockey East

The top two seeds in the East are locked in. North Shore (7-2-1, 15 pts) edged out DRS (6-2-0-1, 13 pts) for the East #1 spot and will host the lower seed in the SAR/Ramaz saga in the first round, while DRS as the East #2 will host the higher. The real drama is the three team race shaping up for the East #3-4 slots. Flatbush (5-3-0-1, 11 pts), Rambam (4-4-1, 9 pts) and HAFTR (4-4-0-1, 9 pts) are all still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Each have only one game remaining and their respective results have a domino effect on the remaining contests.

Rambam will be the first to attempt to clinch a berth against YDE on January 29. For Rambam, a win will put them at 11 points, meaning that they would, at worst, be tied with HAFTR and Flatbush (should HAFTR win and Flatbush lose). In the event of a three-way tie at 11 points, Rambam and HAFTR would advance on total head-to-head, having two wins to Flatbush’s zero, and Rambam would earn the #3 seed by virtue of the “ties over overtime loss” tiebreak (the two split their season series.) with HAFTR as the East #4. Should Rambam lose or only walk away with one point, they leave themselves susceptible to being left on the outside looking in when HAFTR takes on DRS on January 30.

The following is a list of the possibilities that HAFTR faces: If Rambam defeats YDE, HAFTR must win to have a chance at a playoff berth, but will need Flatbush to lose to Ramaz on January 31, so that they can at least fall into the three-way tie mentioned previously. If Rambam loses to YDE, HAFTR only needs one point to earn a playoff spot. In this case, it only needs to find itself ahead of Rambam to earn a berth. HAFTR could still be in contention for the East #3 seed should it end the season tied with Flatbush. However, any point by Flatbush in the last game of the season will earn it the East #3 seed, relegating HAFTR to the East #4 spot. The two other possible scenarios require a bit more precision. Should Rambam tie YDE, HAFTR must win, as any other outcome will not put it ahead of Rambam. Should HAFTR win, HAFTR will await Flatbush’s result to find out what seed it will become. Any other result, Rambam would automatically be the East #,4 and Flatbush the East #3, with Flatbush’s game being wholly irrelevant. Finally, the most interesting scenario is where Rambam loses to YDE in overtime. This would allow HAFTR to not need two points to advance. However, other than a win, only a tie will do. This would bring both teams perfectly even in record and force the “strength of schedule” tiebreak, which favors HAFTR. An overtime loss would not help HAFTR achieve the same result.

For Flatbush, the road will be known for them by the time they play Ramaz. A HAFTR loss, or tie, will mean that Flatbush has already clinched a playoff spot and the only matter is whether Rambam has won or lost to determine seeding. In that scenario, should Rambam and Flatbush end up tied, Rambam holds the tiebreak. A HAFTR win coupled with a Rambam loss, or tie, will mean the same for Flatbush. The only way that Flatbush’s game means more than mere seeding will be if Rambam and HAFTR both win to achieve the three-way tie scenario above, where Flatbush will come out on the losing end to both teams. The math for Flatbush is simple. Gain a point or wind up ahead of both teams, it will earn the East #3 seed. Tie with one team, and Flatbush will be the East #4. Tie with both teams and Flatbush will be out of the postseason race.

Regardless, whomever ends the season with the East #3 seed will travel to the lower seed in the Kushner/TABC race, with the East #4 taking on the one who finishes higher.

Boys Varsity Basketball

With 18 of the 20 teams still in contention for a playoff spot and 20 games still on the slate, there are too many possibilities still left. This will be revisited next week after half of the games have been removed from the slate. At this point, Magen David (10-3) is the only team in the East that has clinched a playoff berth and a First-Round Bye. In the West, Frisch (9-3), SAR (8-3, Heschel (8-3) and TABC (8-4) have clinched a playoff berth. All six other teams in the division enter the final two weeks in contention for the last two berths.

Boys JV Basketball

The junior varsity playoff format will see the top 6 teams in each division. The top two teams in each division will receive byes to the quarterfinals with the next four teams meeting in the division before the winners cross over to face the other division’s bye teams. Eight games remain in the JV schedule, however all 12 playoff berths have already been awarded.

Boys JV Basketball West

The JV West playoff teams are broken neatly into three groups. At the top are SAR (9-1) and MTA (8-1) who have already clinched byes as the West #1 and West #2 seeds respectively. They will await the winners of the East first-round games with MTA facing the highest-remaining winning seed, with SAR, the division champion, squaring off with the lower.

The middle group sees Frisch (8-2) and TABC (7-2) locked in a battle for the West #3-4 seeds. Both have already clinched first-round home games against the West #5-6 seeds, but which seeds they’ll be will be determined by one game, between Ramaz and TABC on January 30. Should TABC emerge victorious, they will be tied with Frisch, but would earn the West #3 seed and relegate Frisch to the West #4 seed in the tiebreak, by virtue of their win over Frisch during the regular season. A TABC loss will result in the exact opposite.

The Ramaz-TABC game will also have implications on the bottom playoff tier in the West. Currently Heschel (5-3) and Ramaz (5-4) have clinched playoff berths and are fighting for position in the West #5 and West #6 slots. A Heschel win (at Hillel 2/3, at MTA 2/4) or a Ramaz loss will result in Heschel earning the West #5 seed. Heschel holds the tiebreak by virtue of their overtime win against Ramaz back in November. Ironically, should Ramaz lose to TABC, it will set up a playoff matchup where the two teams will square off again as the West #6 and West #3 seeds, with Frisch hosting Heschel in the West #4 vs West #5 matchup. A Ramaz win would then require seeing whether Heschel can win one of their last two games. Should they fall short, it will still trigger a Ramaz-TABC showdown, this time with Ramaz as the West #5 and TABC as the West #4 and Frisch and Heschel fighting in the other game. Finally, a Ramaz win over TABC and a Heschel win in the final two games will provide West #3 Frisch vs West #6 Ramaz and West #4 TABC vs West #5 Heschel as the first-round playoff matchups.

Boys JV Basketball East

The East still has five games to help sort out the seeds as every berth is clinched, but no seeds are locked.

The top of the East sees North Shore (9-1), Magen David (7-1) and HAFTR (7-2) fighting for the two bye slots. North Shore has already been guaranteed one of the two. Whether they earn the #1 slot and who joins them will come down to three games, two for Magen David (at Rambam 1/29, at DRS 2/2) and one for HAFTR (at HANC 2/4). For North Shore, only Magen David can push them out of the East #1 seed, so a Magen David loss will clinch the division for North Shore. Should Magen David win both remaining games, it will earn the East #1, with North Shore as the East #2. In the event that Magen David wins one of their remaining two games, the East #2 seed will be decided by HAFTR’s game with HANC. A HAFTR win would give them the East #2 seed and relegate Magen David to the East #3 seed.

The interesting scenario occurs if Magen David loses both of its remaining games. At the top, North Shore will have earned the East #1 seed. Due to tiebreakers, regardless of whether HAFTER defeats HANC, HAFTR will earn the East #2 seed, DRS will take the East #3 seed and Magen David will fall all the way to fourth. For DRS, this is the only scenario that will move them out of the East #4 spot. Any other outcome will mean that they will face the winner of the Shaare Torah-Flatbush regular season finale on February 4. Presently, Shaare Torah (5-4) and Flatbush (4-5) have clinched playoff berths with the winner of their contest earning the fifth seed, while the loser will be relegated to sixth.

Girls Varsity Basketball

The girls varsity playoff format remains the same with the top four teams in each division earning playoff spots and crossing over in a traditional Olympic tournament format. All eight teams have been determined and only seeds in the East are left undetermined.

Out West, all is set as #1 SAR (11-0), #2 Frisch (9-2), #3 Ma’ayanot (7-4) and #4 Bruriah (6-6) get ready to enter the postseason. SAR already knows their matchup. SAR will battle East #4 North Shore (5-6). The rest of the East is up for grabs. At the top, Ramaz (9-3) currently holds a two win lead over Central (7-3) and HANC (7-4). As HANC only has one more game (at Flatbush 2/2), it cannot overtake Ramaz, meaning that Ramaz will host a first-round home game as the #2 seed at the worst, should Central win both games (Central holds the tiebreak). At best, for Ramaz, Central loses one of its two remaining contests (at Flatbush 1/31, at HAFTR 2/3), where Ramaz will be the top seed to challenge Bruriah, Central will take the East #2 to host Ma’ayanot, with HANC as the third seed traveling to Frisch. However, should Central lose both of its remaining games and HANC win its contest with Flatbush, it will leap over Central into the East second seed and play host to Ma’ayanot while Central will fall to third and travel to Frisch.

Girls JV Basketball

The girls varsity playoff format takes the top three teams from each division with the top seed earning a bye while the second and third seeds crossover. All six playoff spots have been locked in. East #2 North Shore (6-4) will host West #3 SAR (5-5) with the winner traveling to play West #1 Ma’ayanot (9-1), while West #2 Frisch (7-2) will host East #3 Flatbush (4-4) with the winner traveling to play East #1 HAFTR (9-0).

By Elliot Weiselberg

Elliot Weiselberg is the host of the Court Report, the voice of the JM in the AM Sports Update for Nachum Segal airing on Tuesdays around 7:20 a.m., and a regular hockey contributor to the Yeshiva League Pass account on Instagram.