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Knights Win Tier-III Semifinal In Last-Minute Thriller
Nathan Japhet
March 25th, 2012

MacsLive Reporting Services (New York, NY)

The Hillel Hurricanes were unable to get a shot off in their final possession with a chance to tie or win, and the Yeshiva Or Chaim Knights claimed their first victory at Sarachek and advanced to the Tier-III finals.  

With the Hurricanes inbounding the ball with 11.6 seconds to play, the Knights’ defense denied the ball to Hillel’s star guard Joseph Ammar for the entire final sequence, allowing Or Chaim to hold on to a tenuous 48-46 victory and advance to the Tier-III finals on Monday.  

The final play was set up when, a minute earlier, Hillel turned the ball over on an inbounds play coming out of a time out.  The Knights’ David Suttner was fouled on the Knights’ next possession, and made one of two free-throws to give YOC the two-point lead.  Hillel called a time out with 16.5 seconds left, but Or Chaim, with only four team fouls, was able to stop the clock with 11.6 seconds to go to force Miami into a shorter final possession.

The back-and-forth affair saw Or Chaim outplay Hillel in the first quarter and the Hurricanes dominate the second and most of the third.  But the Knights came back behind the strength of Yehuda Eklove on offense and Josh Herman on defense.

YOC came out looking determined in the first quarter and dominated on both sides of the ball, using the fast hands of Eklove and Suttner to turn steals in to transition baskets, helping the Knights jump out to an early six-point lead.  But with Hillel’s lead scorer Joseph Ammar benched to start the game, his emergence into the lineup late in the first quarter changed the tone of the game.  

Ammar heated up in the second with eleven points in the quarter and fourteen points overall in the first half, shooting long-range three pointers and fade-away jumpshots that the Knights could not defend.

But despite a twelve-point swing in which the Knights saw their six-point advantage disappear into a six-point deficit, YOC clawed its way back in the third quarter.  Herman’s tight defense limited Ammar to low-percentage shots and marginalized his offensive output.  After Eklove hit a big three, free throws on two subsequent Hurricanes fouls gave the Knights a seven point lead.  Although the Hurricanes would eventually tie the game, they would never again take the lead.

Ammar finished with 21 points to lead all scorers, and Eklove led the Knights with nine points.  YOC’s Josh Teller added eight points.

The win sends YOC to the Tier-III championship game, which will be played Monday at the Max Stern Athletic Center against the Maimonides M-Cats, who beat the Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem this morning.  The championship game will be broadcast live in high definition by MacsLive (check www.macslive.com for the complete Sarachek schedule as soon as it is released).

Hillel will play the Mayhem for third-place in Tier-III.  The game will not be broadcast live, but MacsLive will provide scores and updates.

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