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Friday, February 28, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Survive and Thrive: JV Boys Basketball Wins Playoff Opener

JV Boys Win!
The playoffs are all about doing what you need to do to win and move on. The JV Boys Basketball team did just that with its playoff opener last Thursday (2/20/14) in defeating Yeshiva Rambam in front of a spirited home crowd.
Rally girls cheer on the JV Falcons
Due to Mother Nature, it has been nearly 3 weeks since the JV boys hoopsters took the court against an opponent in competition (an exhibition scheduled with HAFTR was postponed and then cancelled and this contest with Rambam was delayed from the previous Thursday), and the offense certainly showed the ill effects of the layoff. Happily, the defense suffered no similar trouble. While the offense could not buy a basket, the defense did not miss a beat. It was nearly three minutes in before Kevin Haddad got the ball to go down for the Falcons, and all Rambam could muster was a put-back at the 3:00 minute mark. However, when coupled with a single free-throw, the Ravens had a 3-2 lead late in the 1st quarter. The Ravens then began to exploit their size advantage, garnering second and third chances on offense, getting a pair of rebound follows to extend their lead to 8-4. Flatbush was clearly out of synch, and burned two precious time outs in the hopes of righting the ship. But it looked to do just the trick, as the team came out more settled and patient on offense. With the clock running down, Louis Zarif took the ball and cut his way to the basket, dropping in a fluid lay-up as the buzzer sounded, closing the gap to 2 and giving the home team some much needed momentum.
Louis Zarif takes on Rambam's big men
Period 2 started off like the opening one, with both teams very tight. Then the Falcons found a flicker from the “on” switch. Jackie Mishaan hit one of two from the line, and followed that up with a drive to the hoop giving the Falcons their first lead since early on. It also rekindled the defense, which went from solid to stifling! The pressure would lead to empty possessions and turnovers from the Raven offense. At the same time, the Falcons finally found the range with Joe Cayre and Jake Shalom each hitting a 3-pointer sandwiched around a smooth feed of David Dayan cutting down the lane for a deuce. In a flash, Flatbush moved out to a 17-12 advantage. And when fouls forced the effective Dayan to the bench, Joe Gindi and Yoel Goldberg seamlessly stepped in to maintain the even keel Flatbush found, and the teams went to the break with Flatbush enjoying a four-point advantage, 19-15.
David Dayan patrols the lane on defense
The second half opened with the Falcons looking to take command behind a power drive to the hoop from Mishaan, drawing in the defense so he could slip the ball to Albert Richter for the finish. It was so good, that they did it again – wash, rinse, repeat – and just like that Flatbush has a near double-digit lead. The Falcons looked to deliver the knockout blow, but the officials had other ideas. Flatbush began amassing fouls at an alarming rate, and committed team foul number 7 before the 3rd period was even over. The Ravens closed the gap 24-21 and looked to have all the momentum, until reserve forward Yoel Goldberg stepped up and drained a mid-range jumper to stem the tide, re-establish a calm amongst the offense and give the Falcons a five-point lead heading into the final period of regulation play.
Jackie Mishaan finds Albert Richter for the easy basket
Flatbush opened with an empty possession, but the rebounding returned with Mishaan and Dayan crashing the boards. Kevin Haddad soon followed with a 3-point bomb giving the Falcons a seven point lead two minutes in. But again, the shooting touch disappeared, and four Flatbush fouls led to four Raven points. Thanks to Rambam’s shooting at 50% efficiency from the charity stripe, the Falcons maintained a meager 3-point lead. A Flatbush fast break led to a Dayan free throw (matching the Ravens’ shooting percentage from the foul line), but a sputtering offense would be all Flatbush would need. The defense took control, generating turnovers and pulling down rebounds. And, with two minutes to play, it was “Cincinnati Weave” time! Looking to kill the clock, the Ravens needed to foul repeatedly. But having finally collected their 6th team foul and ready to send the Falcons to the line with the next one, the Raven guards lost track of Elliot Beyda who streaked with the inbounds pass to the basket for the uncontested lay-in, a 6-point Faclon lead and 1:30 left before the celebrating! With two pairs of free thows from Louis Zarif and Jackie Mishaan closing out the scoring, the Flatbush JV’s finished with a 35-26 win that belied the closeness of the game play. But this is the playoffs, and the name of the game is to win and move on, and on this night the JV Falcons did just that!
Jake Shalom plays shut-down defense