Boys’ Triumph

Adam Drexler, Features Editor

 The CESJDS fan section was on its feet as senior Zach Gross sealed the game on a powerful drive to the bucket with a foul call. “MVP” chants were circling throughout the gym as Gross stood on the free-throw line. On Tuesday, the JDS boys varsity basketball team defeated the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Cougars 61-47 at home.

To kick off the game, the Lions jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, a result from a couple of strong finishes by junior Tyler Farkas. This forced the Cougars to call a timeout.

The Lions continued to lead the Cougars throughout the first half. A pair of jump shots from Gross in addition to finishes by junior Jake Rulnick kept JDS in the lead by double digits through the end of the first half.

  Early in the third quarter, junior Ariel Gershman blocked a Cougar’s jump shot, and JDS pushed the ball up the court in a transition that led to a strong finish at the rim by junior Yoav Even.  

The gym was physically shaking when Rulnick, who is over six feet tall, secured the ball in the paint and threw down a two-handed dunk right in front of the JDS fan section.  

Mid-way through the fourth quarter, head basketball coach Dave McCloud pulled out the entire line-up in the game, which consisted of 4 of the 5 starters for JDS, and put a whole new set of players into the game. The move showed McCloud’s complete confidence in his second unit to secure the approaching, but not certain, win.  

As the clock ran out in the fourth quarter, JDS fans stormed onto the court to celebrate with the team. After the Lions’ tough loss earlier this season to the Cougars, this victory was uplifting for the team. 

“There is so much to this rivalry, there’s so much more intensity and energy, so it is an all around harder fought game which makes it more fun to play in,” Gross said.

Gross finished the game with 17 points, and tied with Farkas, who also scored 17, including multiple crossovers and tough finishes at the rim.  

McCloud was satisfied with the teams’ “tough defense” after the win. He said that the energy was reflective of the players’ “Mamba mentality,” referring to former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, an NBA legend, passed away on Sunday, emotionally impacting fans across the world. Bryant’s nickname was the “Black Mamba,” and Bryant popularized his “Mamba mentality” throughout his time in the NBA. This mentality is all about outworking opponents and being prepared for clutch situations with countless hours of practice.  

“We talked about [the Mamba mentality] before the game started,” McCloud said. “These guys played hard, and they really wanted this game to prove to Berman that we are the way better team.”