Defense Reigns – Girls Win and Lose in Miami Beach

Defense Reigns – Girls Win One, Lose One in Miami Beach Tourny
Posted on 03/01/2019
Defense Reigns – Girls Win One, Lose One in Miami Beach Tourny

Erev Shabbat (3/1) was filled with basketball, defensive basketball at least, for the Flatbush Girls Varsity as the Playoffs got underway at the RASG Girls Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton with the Falcons earning their first win of the event defeating the Atlanta Jewish Academy Jaguars (Atlanta, GA) in a preliminary round game. But, they were unable to turn that momentum into a second consecutive win as they fell to a very strong Shalhevet Firehawks (Los Angeles, CA) squad later in the early afternoon in the quarterfinal round at the Hebrew Academy Gym in Miami Beach, Florida.


With the second game of the morning schedule, it was actually the skills competitions in which the select Falcons engaged first. With their teammates on the bench cheering them on, Renee Kubie and Kayla Motovich stepped out on the court for their semifinal round opportunities in the 3-Point and Hot Shot contests respectively. Kubie turned in the second highest point total in the opening round, hitting 11 long range bombs. But, today was a different day, and Kubie just could not find the range. She finished with 5 made baskets, and that left her just on the outside of qualification for the Finals.

 Kubie for Three

Motovich was up next, and shooting directly in front of the team bench she proceeded to put on a Hot Shot show. Motovich did not miss at all from the free throw line, and when her one minute was up, she had amassed 25 points! That put her atop the qualifying list, advancing to the finals which will take place late Saturday night.

 Motovich Hot Shot Go Kayla!

It was then time for team basketball, and the Falcons preliminary round playoff contest with the AJA Jaguars. A win would mean a quarterfinal battle with the second seeded Shalhevet Firehawks a mere 2 hours later in the day, while a loss would mean relegation directly to the Saturday night consolation bracket.

 Tip Off

Flatbush opened the game flashing the defense they had shown the previous two games, getting stops culminating with Kayla Motovich pulling in multiple rebounds. Motovich also opened the scoring for Flatbush from the free throw line. Suspect officiating denied a deuce from Betty Greenberg off a great offensive board, a rough call considering it was already looking like points would be at a premium for the Falcons. With 5:18 on the clock, Atlanta wanted timeout trailing 1-0. Motovich rung up three more points for Flatbush from long range. However, it was all about shut down defending for Flatbush as for the third straight game, the Falcons defense was absolutely incredible. Sarah Gammal and Raquel Oved each picked the pocket of a Jaguar guard. But the offense still could not get a feel for the rim. At the end of one, Flatbush was up by the low score of 4-0.

 Motovich free throw

After a Renee Kubie steal came up short for Flatbush, Atlanta finally solved the Falcon defense getting a lay up for their first points of the game. Lorraine Levy entered and came up with a steal. Flatbush kept attacking, but just could not score. The defense was still intense, but with half the second quarter gone, the score was tied, 4-4. Atlanta took the lead in on a long lead pass off another Falcon missed shot. Flatbush kept at it, though, and the final minute of the half was very kind to Flatbush. The Falcons tied the game on a Sylvia Mizrahi put back. They then took back the lead on a Motovich drive to the hoop. Atlanta was looking for the final shot of the half, but Flatbush had other ideas. Gammal applied the pressure and stole the ball. She then finished the drive for two more Falcons points. At the half, Flatbush had the lead, 10-6.

 Levy Steals the ball

The second half saw the Flatbush defense picked up where they left off, with Mizrahi pulling in a rebound off a Jaguar miss. Flatbush continued to bring pressure. With over two minutes gone, Esther Habert hit a jumper to add to the Falcons total. She scored again minutes later on a pass from Joy Cattan putting Flatbush up 14-8. The Falcons piled up the steals, but not the points. Atlanta hit a long heave from three late in the quarter, and with one quarter to play, Flatbush held a slim 15-11 advantage.

 Mizrahi rebounds Habert scores

Oved continued to push the ball and got to the line, hitting one. Steals finally led to points, as a Habert poke-check led to a Kubie lay up and an 18-11 lead. Atlanta struck again on a long bomb to close to 4. Flatbush continued to turn over the Jaguars, but it was taking its toll on the energy level. Coaches went for wholesale substitutions at the 5 minute mark. It paid off as Gammal hit on a drive to push the lead back out to 6. But, Flatbush got sloppy on defense for the first time and gave up an easy in-bounds lay up. With 4 minutes to play, the Flatbush lead was down to 20-16. Greenberg responded with a corner jumper off a Motovich pass to get the lead back to 6.

 Kubie scores
Greenberg with the ball

Gammal and Habert combined on another steal, and the outlet pass to Mizrahi led to a Motovich lay up. With 1:40 to play,Flatbush had finally built some distance, pushing the lead out to 8 points. Fittingly, Flatbush looked to shut the door on the Jaguars with steals, and they did just that. Habert took it away, then drew a foul going to the hoop. The defense closed out the playoff win, 25-16, earning an afternoon quarterfinal match up with the number two seed Shalhevet Firehawks of Los Angeles, CA!

 Habert steals the ball

After a brief break for breakfast, the Flatbush girls were back at the Hebrew Academy’s Gym for their quarterfinal match up. But, the start was delayed as another quarterfinal contest was going into overtime. The gym was packed to the gills as the host Hebrew Academy Warriors were in a fierce battle with the Flatbush MYHSAL Rival Central Wildcats of Queens, NY. When the Warriors went up by 4 points, it looked to be over for the New Yorkers, but Flatbush had experience with these Wildcats. They knew that Central would keep coming, and with timely shooting and big rebounding, the Widcats came from behind to win and advance to the quarterfinals.

 Full house

The floor was soon cleared, and the gym summarily emptied (as the disappointed hometown fans all made a hasty exit). It was Flatbush’s turn to seek a second straight quarterfinal upset by an MYHSAL squad. Could they pull off a miracle?


Shalhevet looked to be off to the quick 2-0 lead, but the Flatbush defense forced a miss inside. Kayla Motovich hit a jumper, and that 2-0 lead belonged to Flatbush. The offense got sloppy though, and turnovers let the Firehawks score five straight baskets over the next three minutes to take a 10-2 lead. It did not get any better as Flatbush struggled just to advance the ball into the offensive zone. Late in the quarter, Renee Kubie drained a baseline runner and Lorraine Levy added a three-pointer which stopped the bleeding for a moment. But, the damage was done. By the end of the quarter, Shalhevet was in control, 24-7.

 Defense Motovich scores

The second quarter was more of the same. Flatbush had difficulty protecting the ball, and the Firehawks turned the errors into points. Flatbush got one point from Mizrahi when she drew a foul and hit one of two. But the toll of playing against a team with fresh legs after having battled hard earlier in the morning was proving to be too great a challenge. The Falcons came up with a defensive stop on the last possession, but at the half Shalhevet’s lead was 38-8.


The second half was more of the same. Flatbush played tough defense, but gave up more points in the transition game. However, true to form, the Falcons never stopped playing. Oved pushed things at both ends, hitting a sweet drive. Danielle Gani got in on the scoring with a corner swish. In the end, the Firehawks had too much for the Falcons. Final score, 50-13, Shalhevet. The Firehawks secured a spot in Saturday night’s semifinals, while Flatbush moved to the consolation bracket.

 Oved drives and scores
Danielle Gani Scores

It was now time to turn from the mundane to the special. Dressed in their Shabbat finest, the Falcons and their fellow tournament participants all gathered at the RASG Hebrew Academy HS, ready to put the “Shabbat” in 14th Annual Captain Hyman P. Galbut Shabbaton.

Shabbat Shalom 

Shabbat Shalom all!

NEST NOTES: The Falcons will play for 7th place, taking on the team from Goldie Margolin School for Girls (Memphis, TN) who defeated the Hillel Heat (Deal, NJ) in their preliminary round game before falling to the Katz Yeshiva HS Storm (Boca Raton, FL) in the quarterfinals by a mere two points. Game time is set for Saturday night, March 2, at 9:15 pm in the Miami Beach JCC Gym.

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