defeating Hillel Academy by a score of 57-36.
Eric Levine led the scoring for the JCC with 13 points, followed by Stephen Canton with 12. Yossie Edleman and Michael Rafkin shared top honors for Hillel with 12 points each.
“Edleman and Rafkin are really good players, and they can penetrate really well,” said JCC Head Coach Andy Pakler. “So we had to put Eric Levine on Rafkin most of the time. Levine’s a good player; he plays great defense. We had to make sure that we locked those two kids down, and they were making plays.”
The JCC jumped out to an early 16-1 lead midway through the first quarter, forcing many Hillel turnovers.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble getting out of the gate,” said Hillel Head Coach Lenny Plotkin. “Our guys are very young and are a little bit intimidated by the whole aura of playing basketball. Often-times, we get off to these poor starts, and we jump back into it like we did, but sometimes you spend so much energy trying to come back, that at that point, we had nothing left and that’s what makes it easy for the other team.”
Arron Critchfield was an integral part of the JCC’s run, scoring eight of the 16 points.
“It’s very hard to guard Arron Critchfield — he can take you off the dribble, he can dribble once or pull up for a jump shot and he can play defense,” said Pakler. “He’s a very intense player and we’re lucky to get him this year. I don’t know if anyone in the league can guard him if he truly wants to play.”
Despite the supposed momentum, JCC committed early fouls placing Hillel on the free-throw line and starting a
possible Hillel comeback.
“I think we were all very excited about the game. I guess we kind of wanted to make a statement and I think with the excitement, we always went for the steal every time,” JCC’s Levine said. “After we got a bunch of fouls, we realized that we had to be a little more patient on defense, and we could force them to a bad shot and that was just as good as going for the steal.”
The second quarter allowed the JCC to fortify their lead. The team outscored Hillel 11-3 in the quarter and led 32-13 at the half.
In the third quarter, the most competitive of the game, Hillel outscored the JCC 14-13. JCC managed to stay in the quarter due in large part to Levine and his rebounding ability.
In the final quarter, the JCC outscored its opponent 12-9 and went on to win. In the half, Rafkin scored 9 points in ultimately his final game of the season.
“Michael is playing his last game this year, because he’s about to have knee surgery and it’s a huge loss for us, since he’s been our best player,” said Plotkin.
The JCC will face off against Auberle, their next opponent. The game is on Thursday, January 15, at 8:30 p.m. at the JCC.
(Zachary Weiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)