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Varsity Falcons Shine at Miami Tourny Opener

Varsity Falcons Shine at Miami Beach Tournament Opener
Posted on 02/27/2019
Varsity Falcons Shine at Miami Beach Tournament Opener

The Flatbush Girls Varsity Basketball Team made the journey southward on Wednesday morning (2/27) making the school’s third appearance at the annual Girls Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton hosted by the Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy, and after settling in to the warm South Florida climate, the Falcons heated things up on the court, turning in one of their most complete performances of the season, just falling short in the end to a tough YULA Panthers (Los Angeles, CA) squad at the Miami Beach JCC in Miami Beach, Florida.

 Falcons at LaGuardia

It was an early morning for the Varsity Falcons as the team departed the High School at 7:00 am heading across the city to Queens and a 9:30 am Delta Airlines flight to Miami International Airport. After stuffing all the luggage into the team van, the squad headed east to settle into their guest homes and then join all the other participating teams in a welcome BBQ dinner at the Miami Beach JCC, situated just along the Miami Beach waterway.

 Hamburgers!

There were familiar faces, like fellow MYHSAL schools like Hillel and Central, former opponents (like Ida Crown and Rochelle Zell of Chicago, IL and host Hebrew Academy of Miami Beach, FL) and potential new friends (from schools like Atlanta Jewish Academy, Shalhevet and YULA of Los Angeles, CA and Goldie Margolin School for Girls of Memphis, TN).With all the pleasantries attended to, it was time to get the action underway.

Team Motovich sets the offense

It took the Falcons less than 10 seconds to record the first points of the tournament, with Kayla Motovich finding Esther Habert on the move to the basket for an easy lay in. The next possession saw Sarah Gammal hit a mid-range jumper for a 4-0 lead. 2 minutes later, though, the Panthers had pulled even. Motovich put the Falcons back in the lead, but turnovers gave YULA good looks and the Panthers soon had the lead back at 9-6. Gammal hit again, but the difference was still three points after one quarter of play with YULA up 11-8.

 Motovich to Habert Habert finishes
Sarah Gammal

The defense recorded a pair of blocks and a steal to open the quarter, and Motovich pulled the Falcons back to within one on a runner in the lane. A YULA three-ball made it a four point game. Flatbush looked down low to gain some control of the contest. Betty Greenberg and Sylvia Mizrahi responded by providing a strong presence in the rebounding game, and when Mizrahi put back a jumper in the lane the score was 14-12 Panthers with 3:13 left in the opening half. Two minutes later, after another Mizrahi rebound kept a possession alive, Motovich pulled Flatbush even with a swish. YULA’s shooters were tough, though, and with the Panthers connecting on a three in the final seconds, it was YULA leading at the intermission, 19-14.

Save by Cattan Block by Greenberg
Motovich drives

Gammal got the restart moving in the right direction with a nice hoop. Meanwhile, Greenberg and Mizrahi continued to dominate the glass. Motovich was in a groove, and when Falcon Sharpshooter Renee Kubie struck from downtown for a three, the score was all even at 22-22 with 3:45 on the clock. When Kubie hit again on an inbounds with 1:25 left in the third, Flatbush had the lead back at 25-22! YULA added a free throw, but the Falcons defended well in the final seconds. At the end of three quarters of play, it was Flatbush in the lead, 25-23.

 Renee Kubie

A Kubie floater pushed the lead to three, but YULA answered with a three of their own to tie, then hit a jumper on the next possession to regain the lead. Habert responded with a swish from the corner for three to put Flatbush up, 30-29. YULA slugged back with a jumper, then a steal for a lay in. With 4:42 to play, the Panthers reestablished control, leading 33-30. Turnovers were frustrating the Falcons, as the YULA lead moved out to 7 a little over a minute later. Kubie finally got Flatbush back on the board, but time was running out. The Greenberg/Mizrahi tandem kept hitting the boards. Motovich got Flatbush closer at 37-34, with a pair of free throws with 1:22 to play. IN need of the ball while not ceding any points, the Falcons got a huge stop, but paid dearly in elapsed time. Flatbush had the ball back, but there were only 16 seconds left to play. They did not get another shot, and YULA added two more points from the line. Final score: 39-34 YULA.

 Motovich free throw

It was a disappointing defeat, but there was a sense of accomplishment as well in that the team turned in perhaps its most complete performance of the season, with every player on the roster contributing to the solid effort. Coaches Sarah Horowitz and Rose Mishaan clearly were impressed. “This was the best I have seen the team play all season,” beamed a very proud Coach Horowitz. “It was frustrating, because I know – and so do the girls – that we were so close, and it was a very winnable game. But, I am really proud of the effort and the way everyone played tonight.”

 Team Picture

After their game ended, the Flacon girls turned their thoughts back home - and the Boys MYHSAL Quarterfinal playoff game with Heschel.  They viewed the game on their phones through the Flatbush website link, and joined in with their fellow Falcon supporters wildly when the boys jumped out to an early lead.

 Watch party Rally Towels!

After some time to clean up, the team headed out for dinner in North Miami Beach, then it was back to the host families and some rest. Tomorrow would be another day, and another chance to play basketball!

NEST NOTES:  The Varsity Girls are back in action tomorrow, February 28, with two Falcons each representing the team in the afternoon opening round of the 3-point shooting contest and Hot Shot contest.  Later in the evening, the team will play its second preliminary round game, taking on the Ida Crown Aces of Chicago, Illinois at 6:30 pm in the Hebrew Academy Gym.

The Flatbush varsity Girls want to extend a special "THANK YOU" to their lone fan in the stands lending support, former Flatbush teacher and coach Evelyn Shterenzer.  Coach Sterenzer is now living in Florida and provided much inspirational support to her Falcons!

Mrs. Shterenzer with Sarah Gammal

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