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YULA Panthers Claim Ninth Sarachek Title, In Thrilling Overtime Triumph Over MDY

The Sarachek crown will reside in Los Angeles, California for a fifth straight year. This time it was the YULA Panthers who captured their record-setting ninth Sarachek title and first in a decade, snapping MDY's 24-game win streak with a thrilling 69-59 overtime victory in the Tier I Championship game.

Magen came out strong, forcing an early YULA foul, but Phillip Sherr, Yeshiva League finals MVP, quickly countered with the first points of the game. Magen's 2-3 zone dared YULA to shoot, while YULA opted for a man-man defense. Joshua Chabbott's clutch three-pointer gave Magen a slight lead, but YULA capitalized on turnovers, and Yoni Hollander tied the game with a deep three. Despite early foul trouble for Moses Smeke, Magen's offense stayed competitive, but YULA's aggressive defense limited their paint opportunities. At halftime, YULA led 26-24.

The YULA Panthers won their ninth Sarachek title, snapping Magen David's 24-game winning streak with a 69-59 overtime victory. (Photo Credit: MacsLive)

In the second half, Magen adjusted well, exploiting gaps in YULA's zone defense with buckets from Haber and Smeke. However, YULA's sharp three-point shooting kept them in the game. Offensively, the Warriors moved the ball inside to create motion and take the Panthers out of their structure. A Smeke bucket gave them a 39-38 lead after three.

With the score tight in the fourth quarter, both teams elevated their defensive intensity. A crucial Chabbott jumper gave Magen a 44-40 lead, but a Josh Barak three-pointer cut it to one. Smeke's eurostep and timely three-pointer pushed Magen ahead 49-45 with 3:00 left. Yet tournament MVP Alex Gabbay responded. Gabbay came down the other end with an and-one, slicing YULA’s deficit to one. A Chabbott backdoor play made it 51-48, but Rosenblatt got a putback to make it 51-50. With 1:36 left, MDY came out of timeout with a backdoor play for Smeke, but he was blocked from behind by Jaden Azeroul. Gabbay got fouled and hit two free throws to give the Panthers a 52-51 lead.

In the final minute of regulation. YULA switched up their defense to a 2-3 zone, throwing Magen off their game. Sherr took a risky three-pointer, but it didn't quite hit the mark. Then, Gabbay missed a layup, but he redeemed himself by swiping the ball from Chabbott, forcing Magen to foul with the shot clock turned off. Gabbay made one of his free throws, putting YULA up 53-51 with 26 seconds left. Magen had a chance to turn it around, but Chabbott's long three didn't go in. However, a fumble by Azeroul gave Magen one last shot. Smeke stepped up big time with a clutch jumper, tying the game and sending us into overtime! Gabbay almost won it with a full-court shot, but his heave clanged off the rim.

In overtime, YULA's Gabbay dominated with 10 straight points, earning "MVP" chants. Magen's attempts to regain momentum fell short as Smeke's overconfidence led to missed shots. YULA sealed the 69-59 overtime victory with free throws, clinching their ninth Sarachek title, ending Magen David's winning streak, and keeping the Sarachek trophy in California.

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