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Sarachek Panel Roundup and 2025 Predictions

Final standings:


Yosef Silver: 25-5

Ari Schopf: 23-5

Marvin Azrak: 21-9

Akiva Poppers: 22-8

Oren Glickman: 23-4


Quotes from our panelists:


YS: I’m humbled to be crowned the champion of the Sarachek 2024 Panel Picks. It was an honor and a privilege to have been named to the panel in the first place. Similar to my hometown DRS Wildcats, I’m happy I was able to prove that I belonged in this group by taking home the title. Looking forward to running it back for Sarachek 2025.


AS: The greatest achievement in my life to this point has been beating Akiva Poppers in these picks. I am a happy man now.


MA: Don’t let the last place finish fool you, I had a good tournament. Yet when you’re surrounded by greatness the standard is higher. That precedent was set by Yosef Silver, who I congratulate on his well-deserved victory. The “Silver” lining is that I learned some new methods to the picking madness this week.  I’ll use those to tweak the “Marvzone Method” for Sarachek 2025.


AP: I may not have had a great performance compared to the rest of the MacsLive panel, but that’s because we’ve got a bunch of geniuses on the crew. In the games we picked, 9 “home” teams lost. Yet the worst performance from the panel was 9 incorrect picks. Great job panel! I’ll regain the picks crown next year.


OG: Thank you to the YU affiliated schools (MTA and YULA) for making me the only one right on Friday and Championship Monday! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back next year! 



Coach of the Tournament


YS: Hard to pick against Coach Moshe Cohen for DRS. In his first season at the helm, he led the Wildcats to a record 5 wins. Coach Cohen kept his guys composed throughout the six games of the tournament and executed excellent gameplans in-game, seamlessly adjusting their strategy based on their opponent. 


AS: A first year coach winning five games in six days? It has to be Moshe Cohen, coach of DRS.


MA: It’s Moshe Cohen. Playing six elimination games in six days is difficult and at different times during the day too. He had his guys ready to conquer each obstacle and was rewarded with a Tier II title. We all wonder how teams who enter Sarachek on slumps respond and you could see he took the time between the playoff loss to North Shore and March Madness to heart. 


AP: Heck of a job by MoCo getting DRS from three straight losses to North Shore (including a smack down in the playoffs) to Tier II Champions. Five wins in one Sarachek is a new tournament record!


OG: I have to say it’s Moshe Cohen of DRS in his first year. They had a long layoff after the smack down they got from North Shore. To then play their way into Sarachek and finish with a Tier II title is mightily impressive. Joe Aaron made a name for himself this tournament and will be a stud next year. 


The YULA Panthers shocked our panel by winning the 2024 Sarachek tournament, capturing Jewish high school basketball supremacy. (Photo Credit: JJ Stein / @shot.by.j2 on IG)


Comeback Team of the Tournament


YS: I’m going to give this to Maimo. After pulling off an upset two years ago to make their way into Tier II, the M-Cats collapsed last year after a tough loss to YULA in the Tier I qualifiers. This year, the M-Cats rebounded by defeating HAFTR to get into Tier I, and hung around vs Magen David.


AS: Ida Crown got over the hump and advanced to Tier I.


MA: I think it’s Ida Crown. I was very impressed by the Chicagoans and apologized to my fellow Sarfatians for doubting them. They won a Tier I qualifier for the first time in over a decade and then were a defensive stop away from knocking off eventual champion YULA. They’re well coached and have an awesome fanbase. They deserved that fifth place finish.


AP: Maimo went from Tier III Consolation to Tier I. Kudos to the M-Cats for their bounce-back.


OG: I would actually have to pick my boys at TABC. After getting walloped in Tier I last year by the eventual champion Valley Torah, they overperformed this year and finished in 3rd place (highest finish ever in school history) after being seeded 5. Great job boys! 



Best Moment:


YS: Eyal Kinderleher’s free throws to tie the game for TABC vs Shalhevet. Absolute ice.


AS: Benny Freiden’s buzzer beater to win the Tier III semifinal against Kushner. A “one shining moment” type shot.


MA: The “Mactastic Miracle” by the Cooper Macs over Kushner.  That Ben Freiden shot capped one of the greatest fourth quarter comebacks in Sarachek history. Moments like those make me crave a “one shining moment” montage of this tournament. 


AP: Seeing Evan Glasberg walk off on his own power after a scary injury on Thursday. Reminds you that some things are bigger than basketball.


OG: My former student Moses Smeke’s game tying shot in the final. Yes YULA still won. But I think it goes down in history because we haven’t had so many Sarachek games forced into OT. 



Biggest Surprise:


YS: I would say DRS. While we knew they were a good team going into the tournament, I didn’t expect them to go on a run of six games in six days en route to a Tier II chip. They didn’t show any fatigue throughout the tournament, made multiple comebacks (especially vs Berman), and went to extended runs (including an 18-0 run in the Finals).


AS: Zevi Pancer announcing a game.


MA: Personally, I announced three games on Sunday on zero hours of sleep. I had a blast announcing two straight games with young broadcasting sensation Ari Katz. What elevated the experience is that we were told last minute we would call the Kushner-Cooper game and since we hadn’t had time to prep properly, we winged it and it evolved into one of the best games of the tournament. Then later that evening, I got to call a game with the legendary Yehoshua Segal. Teamwise, Ramaz was disappointing. I expected better than a 14th place finish from the 10 seed, even after they fell into Tier II.


AP: Kushner almost beating Cooper. Also, shoutout to Ida Crown. They didn’t look good at all on Thursday in their win over Ramaz, but once they got over the Tier I hump, Wortman and Okner were incredible, and as a team they coalesced very well and played intelligent basketball.


OG: I would have to say Ida Crown. We get the same story over and over again on this being their year. I didn’t have them making Tier I and they finally broke the curse, to a point that they had the eventual champion YULA on the ropes. Good job Aces! 



Best Jerseys:


YS: There are a bunch of solid jerseys, but I think I’m going to give it to Ohr HaTorah’s road blues. The water design was really unique and added a lot to the jersey. Honorable mentions to MTA’s road jerseys and the assorted Valley Torah collection, specifically the “The Valley” blue alternates.

AS: The MacsLive uniforms. Truly spectacular.


MA: Ohr HaTorah’s water ones were fantastic and I’m glad they got to experience a win in the “Last Place game” against Kushner. Yet I think the best in the nation are Flatbush’s Hebrew ones and am surprised they didn’t use it this tournament after doing so in the Yeshiva League final.


AP: The best jerseys in the country are the Flatbush blacks with hebrew, but they didn’t wear them in Sarachek, so I’ll go with Ohr HaTorah’s blues.


OG: I like the Flatbush jerseys with the Hebrew writing (although they didn’t use them this weekend).



Best Fanbase:


YS: Gotta be YULA but shoutout to all those who made the trip to support their teams, both from in and out of town.


AS: Berman. No question.


MA: The champions YULA. That chant is stuck in my head. My apologies for doubting their heroes. But it was great to see so many fans from around the country come out in droves to support their schools. That's what truly makes this tournament special. 


AP: I want to say Montreal or Fuchs, but it’s YULA. Duh.


OG: No question it’s YULA.



Team you are most looking forward to seeing next year:


YS: A few teams to look out for, but Shalhevet intrigues me the most. Bitran already made the All-Sarachek first team this year, and will come into the tournament with revenge on his mind. It also gives other key contributors like Jacobson and Leiberman time to continue to grow as a team.


AS: Very excited to see this Montreal team one year from now. This offense is a must watch for fans.


MA: It’s Montreal. They were snubbed of a Tier I spot and I think that when these JV boys grow up next year, they’ll make some noise. I’m also excited to see a Bitran redemption tour for Shalhevet next year.


AP: Montreal is gonna have a legit shot to win a  Tier I Qualifier next year—and they will be fun to watch too.


OG: Probably Shalhevet. I think Bitran as a senior will be the best player in the tournament next year. 



Sarachek 2025 Championship Prediction:


YS: MAY Eagles over Netzach Knights in the Battle of the Five Towns Volume 2. However, if those teams don’t make it to Sarachek, I would have to go with TABC over Shalhevet in another barnburner. 


AS: Shalhevet over Ida Crown.


MA: It’s tough because YULA could repeat, and you know Magen David is always lurking. But I like what Shalhevet brings to the table. It’s the same with TABC, who just went to the semifinals and are welcoming back most of their core. I’ll pick Shalhevet over TABC in another East-West final. 


AP: Shalhevet over TABC in a revenge game.


OG: Can’t predict due to conflict of interest.


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