Updated: Oct 18
After five days of robust action, it was time to decide who the best Jewish basketball team in the country was: the fifth-ranked SAR Sting or the reigning champion and two-seed Valley Torah Wolfpack. Fans packed the Max Stern Athletic Center, and thousands of others tuned in on the MacsLive broadcast, expecting a thriller, and they weren’t disappointed.
Instantly you could sense a memorable affair was in the works, as the stars wasted no time getting acclimated to the atmosphere. Led by the dynamic offensive duo of Benny Neuwirth and Akiva Schanzer, as well as the defense of Gabe Sklar, who hauled in 12 rebounds on the game, the Sting raced to a 16-6 lead and would withstand a furious push by superstar Johny Dan and the Wolfpack, for a commanding 29-18 advantage late in the second quarter. Yearning for offense aside from “Danville’s show,” Valley Torah received contributions inside the paint from Gabriel R'Bibo and outside the perimeter from Ethan List, all part of a 12-2 run, which pulled them within one at 31-30, heading into halftime.
Rather than Dan taking over the third, List delivered, taking advantage of the open looks he received. At the same time, the SAR defense converged on his teammate as he banked a turnaround fadeaway to tie it and answered a Schanzer three-point play with a three of his own before finding R'Bibo down low for the Wolfpack’s first lead of the afternoon at 41-39, which they would extend to 43-39 at the end of the third stanza. With a repeat in his sights, List opened the fourth quarter with a three, and Valley Torah emphasized defense from there, answering everything the Sting threw at them with a bucket of their own following innovative clock management. Out of a timeout with three and a half minutes left, they ran the 35-second shot clock down, resulting in a bank shot from Noam Mayouhas, increasing their advantage to 52-43. A Schanzer scoop and score cut the deficit to seven. Still, a crucial offensive rebound from the 5’7” Ariel Kohanteb kept the possession alive for the Wolfpack, leading to a R’Bibo layup for two of his 15 points, securing the repeat for those from the Valley, 56-48. After the contest, it was announced that Dan, who had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds in this one, and Mayouhas, who dished out 12 assists, were co-MVPs of Tier I, the first time in its illustrious history, the Sarachek committee awarded the honor to two players. Congratulations to the Wolfpack, as the trophy will remain in the Valley for another year.