Updated: Nov 8, 2022
Following a two-year hiatus, the Red Sarachek Tournament is finally back. This year the tournament will feature 24 schools, as opposed to the usual 20 teams. The field this year is wide open, and surprises should be expected on every day, in every tier. Below, we break down the favorites of the tournament, as well as which teams to keep an eye out for.
Tier I-Eligible Favorites
The top seed in Sarachek belongs to the SAR Sting. The Sting just lost a heartbreaker to Ramaz in the Yeshiva League Championship game and they will look to bounce back, beginning with their first game against the 16 seed Berman Cougars. The Sting are an excellent
defensive team and they balance that with a solid offense attack.
Valley Torah Wolfpack
The 2 seed belongs to the Valley Torah Wolfpack. Valley Torah had its best season ever, capped off with a 30-4 record. They are led by Jonny Dan, but have a variety of excellent players across the board, making them extremely difficult to guard and plan for. They are tough and scrappy and if there is a loose ball, you will see multiple bodies on the floor from the Wolfpack. Look for them to make a run for the Tier I championship.
Shalhevet is the two time reigning champion of Sarachek, and are trying to become the first team to ever three-peat. The Firehawks have arguably the best player in Sarachek in Avi Halpert. Halpert can do it all on the offensive end, both scoring himself and facilitating for his teammates.
Tier I-Eligible Sleepers
You could argue the Rams belong in the favorites category after winning the Yeshiva League Championship, but as the 7 seed, the Rams have a long way to go to get to a Tier I Final. The Rams are an excellent defensive team. They are led by Julius Rubinstein, who is a lights out shooter from outside, and Caleb Rosenfeld, the anchor of their defense. The Rams will look to add a Sarachek title to their 2021-22 accomplishments.
This is Yavneh’s first appearance in Sarachek since 2014. Listed at #11, it would be easy to look past them. They are a defensive oriented team, led by Noah Ohayon, and they consistently force opponents into low quality shots. They will have their hands full with their Tier I Qualifier against the talented Frisch Cougars, but watch for them to potentially shock some people.
Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem
The Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem come in as the 14th seed. The Mayhem will look to bust some brackets. Fuchs is led by Ephraim Blau, who is a force inside the paint and has the ability to dunk with ease. In addition to Blau, the Mayhem have strong shooters and they play a very unselfish brand of basketball. They face an uphill climb to qualify for Tier I, as the Mayhem face the TABC Storm on Thursday.
The Cougars were given the last Tier I spot as the 16th seed. The Cougars will look to play fast on both sides of the ball, and they have the personnel to do so. While inconsistent, the Cougars have shown that they can compete with the best of the best, and they will need to bring their A game if they want to knock off SAR and qualify for Tier I.
Tier II-Eligible Teams to Watch
The HAFTR Hawks are one of the premier Jewish basketball programs in the country. This year they fell well short of their expectations and therefore will not have the opportunity to compete for Tier I. That being said, they are still a team to watch for and certainly a threat to win the Tier II championship. When they play as a team and execute on offense, they are a tough team to beat.
Maimonides is another team that we usually recently have seen compete for Tier I. This year they started fresh, with a lot of new faces on the team. The M Cats are great in transition and play excellent half court defense. Their younger players will need to prioritize taking care of the ball and if they can successfully do so, they could make a run at a Tier II championship.
Mekor Chaim Cyclones
Making their first Sarachek appearance, the Mekor Chaim Cyclones are the #20 seed in the tournament. While they do not have a chance to compete in Tier I, they are threats to pull an upset or two. They are coached by Harold Katz, father of Yeshiva Maccabees assistants Eli and Dani, and they run a pure motion offense with many off-ball screens and cuts. They are one of the younger teams here at Sarachek, so they will have to mature quickly and not be intimidated by their lack of experience if they want to compete for Tier II.
Berman keeps SAR close, but the Sting pull away late to make their way to Tier I. TABC shuts the door on Fuchs and Valley Torah blows out my MTA Lions. DRS survives a pressure-packed game to send YULA out of Tier I for just the second time in the Panthers’ history. Shalhevet cruises by Ida Crown, but Yavneh pulls a major day one upset, knocking off Frisch by a deuce. Magen David vs. Ramaz comes down to the wire, but the Rams pull off a comeback to win. Flatbush defeats Katz in a relatively unexciting 8-9 game.
With their swagger back, the Sting easily take care of business on Friday. Valley Torah makes a major statement and takes down Ramaz by 20, while TABC ends Yavneh’s cinderella hopes. Shalhevet edges DRS to keep their three-peat hopes alive. In the Tier II Qualifiers, Mekor Chaim falls into an early hole and can’t recover against YULA. Katz, Magen David, Frisch, Ida Crown, Fuchs, MTA, and Berman take care of business, as no upsets go down, and the 17-24 seeds head to Tier III. HA Montreal stuns Hillel in their Tier III Quarterfinal, while chalk holds in the other Tier III Saturday night games. In the Tier II Quarterfinals, Berman pulls the upset on Katz, Zakheim is too much for Fuchs, Magen David knocks off MTA, and Ida Crown defeats YULA.
Sunday features some fantastic semifinals games. TABC keeps Valley Torah in check in the first half, but a couple of big threes by Ethan List allow the Wolfpack to pull away. Shalhevet upsets SAR by 10 to reach their fifth consecutive Championship game. In Tier II, Berman nearly pulls off another upset, but Ida Crown survives a back-and-forth contest. Frisch takes down MDY. In Tier III, Mekor Chaim pulls an upset on HAFTR, and Maimo takes down Montreal.
Championship Monday, what dreams are made of. Mekor Chaim gets the better of Maimo in the Tier III finale, winning three straight games to capture a trophy in their first Sarachek appearance. Frisch blows out Ida Crown in the Tier II game, winning four straight after their opening round loss to pick up some hardware for the short drive home. Valley Torah takes a big lead on Shalhevet in the first half, but unlike in 2018, the Firehawks have no answers on the defensive end, and all of their attempts to go on a run fall short. The Wolfpack win their first ever Sarachek title.
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