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Gameday Preview: MDY Vs YULA Tier I Championship

Today marks the culmination of an exhilarating Sarachek journey as we determine who will reign supreme as the nation's top Jewish high school team. After many dramatic clashes over the last few days, we end with the top two teams going at it.  It’s a New York-Los Angeles battle between the top-seeded MDY Warriors and the #2 seeded YULA Panthers.  

YULA's path to the finals has been anything but easy. After a nail-biting encounter against Kohelet and a thrilling overtime showdown with Ida Crown, they showed their championship potential with a dominant performance against #3 Flatbush in the semifinals. Led by stars Alex Gabbay, who saved his team's season with the three that sent the Ida Crown game to overtime, and Yishai Rosenblatt, YULA's defense contained Flatbush's star player Beni Keda. On the other end, their offense overpowered the Falcons.  YULA's dominance in the paint was a game-changer, shooting an impressive 80% from the field and breaking Flatbush's press to score at will. "I don't think we played to our potential, which is why we struggled the first two rounds,” a YULA player told MacsLive. "Today, everything clicked. Now we go into tomorrow with a lot of confidence because we know if we play our game to the best of our ability we can beat anyone." 

The top-ranked MDY Warriors will look to culminate their historic season with a Sarachek Tier I title, as they face off against #2 YULA in Monday's championship game. (Photo Credit: Dream Basketball Camp/@Dream_Basketball Camp on IG)

However, if the Panthers want to be the best they’ll have to beat the best. They’ll have to play a practically perfect game of basketball to keep the title in California.

Today, they face the buzzsaw that is the Magen David Yeshiva on an incredible 24 game win streak, boasting an overall record of 38-2 this season. They've  outclassed every opponent they've faced in this tournament, including impressive wins against #16 MTA, #8 Maimonides and #5 TABC in the semifinals. They’re also no stranger to lifting trophies, having already done it four times this year. Magen David is looking to make history by becoming the first MYHSAL team to win it all since 2017 and the first team to win the Yeshiva League championship and the national title in the same season since Gabe Leifer and the 33-0 DRS Wildcats in 2016.

The Warriors are deep, skilled, disciplined and well-coached. They’ve always been a basketball powerhouse, but one that has never tasted Sarachek glory in their prestigious history. The closest they came was in 2019, when they fell to the back-to-back champions Shalhevet Firehawks in the championship. Longtime bench boss Ikey “Spike” Dweck wants this title badly and so do his players as they step onto the court together in the white and blue for the final game, looking to end their historic season as national champions. 

Keep your eyes locked on Jack Haber, the X-factor for Magen David. The team is undefeated with him in the lineup, as injuries took him out during their losses to Flatbush in Memphis and Frisch in the Yeshiva League. Yet, when he returned, they went 3-0 against the Falcons, including in an overtime victory in the MYSHAL finals at Yeshiva University two weeks ago.

Yes, Magen has phenomenal two-way talent in captain Mark Sardar, Yeshiva League Finals MVP Phillip Sherr, Joshua Chabbott, and all-star Moses Smeke. Haber’s play, though, may make all the difference, as he’s their best defender and will be tasked with defending with YULA's tall players in the paint and ensuring Magen David maintains control of the game. For the Panthers, Rosenblatt will need to defend the paint for YULA to stand a chance and cause havoc offensively by moving around and crashing the glass. 

So it all comes down to this. The stage is set, the players are ready, and the atmosphere is going to be electric. Get ready for an epic showdown that will determine who takes home the ultimate prize in Jewish high school basketball.

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