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Warrior Defense unfazed by the Buzz

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

Right step, left step, through the hoop. Magen David (Brooklyn, NY) Yeshiva’s all-star guard, junior Albert Nsiri, used a beautiful euro step move to give the Warriors a 36-29 advantage over the SAR Sting early in the fourth quarter. That advantage would grow, and never get smaller than 12.

The Sting were making a push to try and stop Magen David from really blowing the game open after the Warriors had gone on a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter and break the tie. They tried forcing a layup inside, but Magen David senior Michael Natkin, a defensive stalwart the entire afternoon, was there to swat the shot. Junior Jacob Bijou pried the loose ball away from SAR and mailed the outlet pass that led to the Nsiri euro step.

The game began fast and furious, with both teams coming out strong and with high energy. Defensively, both teams were playing a steady man defense to try and prevent the other team from getting any really good looks. Magen David was trying all different types of offense, while SAR kept feeding the ball inside. After a tough eight minutes, the quarter ended and Magen David had a small, three-point, lead.

The second quarter was played to a very different tune than the first quarter. Magen David switched to a zone but also began pressing, and although SAR was still playing man defense, both teams had slowed the tempo down from the first quarter, trying to create better opportunities. The Warriors zone was causing real problems for the Sting’s offense, as they had to rely on deep three-pointers and cross court passes to try and counter it. This was working well for Magen David, as a number of steals helped them generate a 12-4 run through the first five minutes of the quarter and forced SAR to call a timeout. Whatever coach Rafi Halpert said must have worked, because SAR came out of the timeout and immediately scored four points on buckets by juniors Josh Hyman and Joe Gross, leading Magen David to call a timeout of their own. With a three by Hyman, SAR finished off the quarter on a 7-0 run, led by senior Leo Heller’s 6 points, and they pulled to within four to the end the half, 21-17.

The third quarter saw a lot more of what had been going on near the end of the second quarter. For Magen David that meant staying with a zone defense, which was successfully playing a tight box-and-one to keep the ball away from SAR’s star senior Judah Oppenheimer (and even at one point playing a triangle-and-two), and for SAR meant a more energized and fluid offense. The quarter went back and forth, but SAR managed to tie up the game, and all the momentum belonged to them.

That is, until the fourth quarter began. Natkin had a personal 5-0 run to begin the quarter, and then had the monster block that led to the Nsiri euro step. Magen David’s defense tightened up considerably, with Natkin playing great paint defense and junior Edmond Antebi playing the 1 on Oppenheimer excellently. SAR wouldn’t score again until the 3:20 mark, and Magen David would win, 51-37.

Magen David’s scoring was led by Natkin (15), Jajati (15), and Nsiri (12), while SAR was paced offensively by Heller (12), Hyman (7), and Oppenheimer (4).

With this match completed, Magen David moves on the Tier I championship to take on the defending champs and #1 Shalhevet (Los Angeles, CA) Firehawks, while SAR will battle it out with the #4 DRS (Woodmere, NY) Wildcats in the Tier I 3rd Place game. Be sure to tune in to MacsLive, the official broadcast network of Yeshiva Sports and exclusive home of the Red Sarachek Tournament, to catch all the exciting, championship, action.

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