Playoffs Week 2
Several upsets in Tier I brought the FM Home Loans IBL its own version of March Madness. Three of the Final Four teams are set, with the final one to be determined early this week. Rap City clinches a berth in the Tier II Championship.
Sharsheret Shaalvim 44, Team Piaceczna’s 43
In a Tier I matchup, Team Piaceczna’s got off to a hot start, leading 23-14 at the halftime buzzer. Sharsheret Shaalvim couldn’t throw a grape in the ocean in the first half, but started heating up right out of the gate in the second. Piaceczna’s hung onto a one-point lead in the final seconds, as Shaalvim called timeout to advance to ball to halfcourt. Big man Stevie Paul caught the inbound pass and was fouled while shooting. Paul had ice in his veins, making both free throws to give Sharsheret Shaalvim the ultimate lead. A last-ditch effort from Team Piaceczna’s was halted, and Shaalvim was able to finish the comeback and avoid the upset. They will take on top-seeded TC in the final quarterfinal matchup. Noah Schiff led Team Piaceczna’s with 14 points in a losing effort.
Cross River Mooseheads 51, Gold Seals 41
The rematch from the regular season again went to the Cross River Mooseheads, albeit slightly less comfortably than the last meeting. Cross River Mooseheads used poised ball control and aggressiveness from Shragi Peretz to build a 29-22 halftime lead. The Gold Seals gave it their best shot but ultimately ran out of gas and couldn’t pull off a comeback. Gold Seals’ great season ends in the quarterfinals as the Mooseheads head to the quarters.
A. Rafi & Tommy’s 56, Sy Savages 42
This rematch went the other way, as A. Rafi & Tommy’s was able to avenge their loss to Sy Savages in the regular season and pull off the upset. The #6 seed in Tier I, AR&T got off to a surprising start against 3rd-seeded Savages, scoring the first 12 points of the game. Savages was able to get within five at halftime due to 16 first-half fouls from A. Rafi & Tommy’s and converting their free throws. But A. Rafi & Tommy’s was able to blow it open in the second half with more sound defense and smart offense. The young men from Midrash Shmuel will take on Cross River Mooseheads in a Tier I semifinal.
Lobos 58, Shraga 49
In another quarterfinal upset, the 5th-seeded Lobos carried momentum from last week’s blowout and got off to a very hot start against 4th-seeded Shraga, who earned a 1st round bye. Lobos built a double-digit first half lead, but Shraga was able to shake off the rust and tie the game at 28 headed to halftime. Lobos came out of the break aggressive, working shorthanded Shraga into foul trouble and taking advantage at the line to pull away. Max Leibowitz led Shraga with 20 points. Lobos will take on the winner of TC/Sharsheret Shaalvim in the other Tier I semifinal.
Rap City 28, Aliya Glory 26
In the first Tier II semi, top-seeded Rap City secured its spot in the championship game. It was a fierce defensive battle in which leads were constantly traded. In the final minute, Rap City was able to steal the lead and make crucial free throws to fend off a pesky Aliya Glory team. Roy Tal led Rap City with 12 of their 28 points to go with six rebounds. Rap City will face the winner of Ashreinu Holy Bagels/Falafel Ballers in the Tier II Championship.