On Monday at 11 AM the 19 seeded JEC Thunder will be taking on the 20 seeded Kohelet Yeshiva Kings in the Tier III Championship. This game is sure to be a close one.
On one side, you have JEC. After losing their first game of the tournament to the 14 seeded Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem, they proceeded to cleanly win their next two games, having solid wins against both the 11 seeded Maimonides (49-40) and the 18 seeded Mesivta of Greater Philadelphia (66-57). With two victories by 9 points each, JEC have shown that they can get the job done, but that you shouldn’t expect them to blow out their opponents. The team has several great players to rely on, with guys like Yosef Heller and Michayel Cornick both having a total of 37 points over the course of the tournament, while Yechiel Kadosh also has a solid 31. However, none of them are outstanding on their own. These performances are good, but not good enough to say that any of them are truly carrying the team. The key strength of this team is just how many guys can step up. A great example of this is Eitan Speyer, who only had two points before coming into today's game vs Mesivta, where he scored 11 points to help his team get the win. For JEC to win the Tier III championship, they will do it off the back of a whole team-wide effort, which will require several guys to step up. They have already defeated the stronger (at least based on seeding) Pennsylvania team, so they can come into this game with plenty of confidence and hope.
On the other side of the court you have Kohelet. They also lost their first game, which was against the number 13 seeded Berman Hebrew Academy Cougars. They then won their next two games against the number 21 seeded Or Chaim Knights (60-54) and the number 16 seeded MTA Lions (62-58). Both of these wins, by 6 and 4 points respectively, were much closer than the wins by JEC. Nevertheless, they were good wins, with Kohelet managing to get the points they needed. For Kohelet to win against JEC, they will likely need to rely on the great shooting of their star players. While JEC has plenty of potential shooters, Kohelet has made it this far in the tournament by trusting their three main guys to score. Eli Wallace has an insane 62 points, and both Asher Kahlon and Daniel Benjamini have 46. All of these are significantly higher than the scores from JEC’s best guys. This is also reflected in the overall points scored by the teams, with JEC having a total score of 151, while Kohelet has a total score of 182. (Kohelet’s top 3 alone have 154, already more than JEC.) One of the ways that Kohelet gets scores this high is because both Wallace and Benjamini have the ability to hit incredibly deep 3s, and they know and take advantage of it. If they can do that even a few times in this game, it could very well clinch them the title. However, it’s important to point out that their next highest scorer only has 13 points. If JEC manages to stop them, Kohelet will be in big trouble. They also will need to focus on their defense. In their loss against Berman, they scored an impressive 59 points, but Berman got even more with 71. It won’t matter how good their offense is, if the defense can’t manage to hold off JEC.
Both teams have a lot going for them, with their strengths being totally different. JEC is the higher seed, and made it this far with more convincing wins against a more difficult set of opponents, including a (once again I would like to point out that this is based on seeding) better team from the same area. They have many players that they can rely on to score big for them, including guys that haven’t had a chance to be outstanding yet. Kohelet has its own positives though. They have a few incredible stars. However, they rely upon them heavily, and will be in trouble if those guys get shut down. The question is whether or not JEC will actually manage to do that.
This game is going to be an incredible one to see, with the question being whether team power will be able to outshine a few bright stars. You don’t want to miss it!