In the most anticipated bout on the day one slate, the top-seeded Shalhevet Firehawks squared off against the 16-seeded MTA Lions, who were searching to repeat what Fairleigh Dickinson did to Purdue last Friday in the NCAA tournament, which was to shock the basketball world and pull off the improbable upset. Being in their home gym, the Lions fed off the crowd and staked out an early 7-0 lead, which they would maintain throughout the half, taking a 19-15 lead into the intermission.
After a nip and tuck third frame, which saw MTA emerge with a 27-26 hold entering the fourth quarter, word rapidly spread throughout Yeshiva University’s campus, which resulted in an overflow of fans inside the Max Stern Athletic Center and several laptops tuned into the closing act, sensing tournament history. Instead, it was the Firehawks who seized the moment showing why they’re the tournament favorites with a 22-9 spurt, including nine scored by Avi Halpert in that span for a 48-36 victory, led by tenacious man defense forcing turnovers, and their ability to break MTA’s 3-2 zone.
It doesn’t get any easier for Shalhevet, as they’ll face the eighth-seeded Magen David Warriors in the Tier I quarterfinals on Friday at 12:30 PM. The Warriors are coming off a 56-46 victory over the ninth-seeded DRS Wildcats.
Conversely, MTA drops into the Tier II bracket where they’ll go up against 17th seeded Hebrew Academy of Miami (RASG) Warriors at TABC, with game time scheduled for 9:00 a.m.