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YULA Downs Flatbush to Secure Spot in Sarachek Championship

In the realm of high school basketball, expectations often paint a vivid picture of the future. For many, the anticipated Tier I Sarachek finals showdown between (1) MDY and (3) Flatbush seemed inevitable, with the Warriors dispatching (5)TABC, and (3) Flatbush poised to breeze past the (2)Panthers en route to another finals appearance. Yet that's how basketball goes, games aren't won on paper, and YULA had a different narrative to script on the court.

Flatbush loves to play aggressive defense, forcing turnovers and capitalizing on fast breaks. Yet it was YULA who matched Flatbush's intensity, going on an 18-0 tear, for an early 20-5 lead, leaving Flatbush scratching their heads. Part of the head scratcher was how good Yishai Rosenblatt was playing. He masterfully shut down Flatbush's star player, Beni Keda, and even hitting threes. Meanwhile, Flatbush looked rattled, chucking up long shots and struggling to find their rhythm. However, they made a 10-2 run in the second quarter, cutting the lead and drawing to within 39-32 lead.

The YULA Panthers defeated the Flatbush Falcons to advance to the Tier I Sarachek finals against Magen David on Monday. (Photo Credit: MacsLive)

Yet, YULA kept their cool, weathering Flatbush's push and staying ahead with smart plays and solid defense. In the second half, it was more of the same. Flatbush tried to mix things up with some press and zone defense, but YULA broke them at will. They stretched their lead with clutch buckets and stifling defense. Even when the Falcons defended well, it didn't matter. A deep Yoni Holender three made it 52-39 with 2:09 left. In the third. That proved to be the beginning of the end, as Rosenblatt took a charge on Keda. Then, Judah Robbin worked his way inside and blew past two Falcons, went under the hoop and scored, sending Panthers fans into a frenzy.

As they entered the 4th down 56-42, the notorious dynamic Flatbush offense went cold. There was bad shot selection and no precision in their aim, resulting in rushed possessions and missed opportunities. Despite their struggles, Flatbush managed to chip away at YULA's lead, with Solly Gadeh sinking a crucial three-pointer that narrowed the deficit to just nine points with 3:45 left. But that was as close as the Falcons got. Rosenblatt, responded with a defensive stop against Gadeh and denying him any further opportunities to close the gap.

As Flatbush's frustrations mount, their misfortunes grew. A golden opportunity presented itself as Albert Khaski found himself with a wide-open layup, but he failed to convert squandering a precious chance to gain ground.

Sensing the moment, the Panthers pounced to put the nail in the coffin. With quick transitions and unrelenting pressure, they caught Flatbush backtracking as Rosenblatt glided to the basket for a layup, pushing YULA's lead to 62-49 with 2:49 remaining.

Flatbush, now desperate to salvage things, succumbed to YULA's relentless defensive pressure. The California boys scored twice more, extending their lead to 68-52 with just 1:13 left on the clock, and putting a bow on the contest. YULA emerged victorious 68-57, setting up a date with MDY for the tier I championship on Monday at the Max Stern Athletic Center.

As for Flatbush, they had a tremendous season, but were overtaken and went 1-4 against their Brooklyn rivals Magen David, including an overtime loss in the Yeshiva League finals. Looking for vengeance, they dropped over 70 points both of their previous wins. Yet they wound up with 49 here. "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."

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