With a raucous crowd of Falcon fans on hand Thursday night (2/8), the Flatbush Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball teams took on different Wildcat opponents on Senior Night – the final home game of the regular season for both Varsity squads, and both teams entertained their fans with back-to-back exciting games of basketball as the Girls took the opener from the Central Wildcats while the Boys lost the late game to a DRS Wildcats squad that shot lights out in the final quarter of regular season basketball for the 2017-18 season at the Falcons Nest in Brooklyn, NY.
The evenings festivities kicked off with player introductions followed by the singing of the national anthems of both the United States and the State of Israel, performed with melodic magnificence by Flatbush Falcon Senior Co-Captain Marlene Levy. Next up was the first contest of the night; Girls Varsity basketball between the host Falcons and the visiting Wildcats of Central, the Yeshiva University’s High School for Girls.
Flatbush’s Marlene Levy opened the scoring in early, but fouls slowed things down very quickly, as fellow Senior Frieda Abettan was sent to the bench after picking up two quick ones. Levy provided the offensive force for Flatbush early on, scoring the team’s first seven points. At the end of the first-quarter, Flatbush held the lead, 9–5.
The lead did not last long, as missed opportunities early in the next quarter left the door open, and Central walked right through, pulling even at 10-10 just two minutes in. Flatbush’s reserve guard Renee Kubie answered with a big three ball, and all the while Senior Center Jacqueline Mizrachi was tough on the defensive block. Flatbush’s offense was sloppy though, and soon Central once again evened the score 14-14. The Falcons put it together towards the end of the half, behind another strong offensive push from Levy, who scored the final four points of the half. At the midpoint of the contest, the score stood 18 to 14, in favor of Flatbush.
This being Senior Night, it was not a normal halftime. Head Coach Rozan Mizrahi-Laudon and Assistant Coach Jon Gabriel recognized each of the four Senior members of the team. Coach Gabriel shared select memories of each player and Coach Mizrahi-Laudon presented each player with a special varsity jacket, personalized for each individual player.
It was then time to get back to the action. Flatbush opened half number two with good looks at the basket, but the Falcons shooting was just ice cold. Midway through the quarter, Central flipped the score and took a 21-18 lead. Flatbush soon found some touch with a Sarah Gammal jumper, and an Esther Habert finish off a Levy pass, which pulled the Falcons even at 23. Another Kubie 3 gave the lead back to Flatbush, and it was a 28-27 game after three periods of play.
The fourth quarter opened with a flourish, as Gammal stole the opening possession, but whiffed on the finish. Again, Central took the lead, but a strong drive to the basket by Senior Carolyn Kassin – followed by a serenade of the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” from the Flatbush faithful – put Flatbush back up by 2, 31-29, with 5:46 to play. No sooner had Flatbush taken the lead, Central tied it right back up. Fouls then sent Central to the line where they took a three point lead. With 1:22 to play, and with 4 fouls, Levy took a rebound and drove the length of the court, finishing to give Flatbush back a 37-36 lead, and prompting a Wildcats timeout. Flatbush inserted reserve guard Raquel Oved, who came up with a surprise steal, but her teammates could not convert the possession into points. At the other end, a pair of Central free throws gave the Wildcats back the lead. But, Oved was not done. She drew a foul on the Central defense, then calmly swished both shots to take the lead back 39-38!
With 35 seconds left to play, Gammal came up with the defensive play of the game, stealing the ensuing in bounds and feeding it to Kassin under the basket. Kassin drew the foul, and converted both of her free throws as well. Flatbush continued to play smothering defense, and Gammal corralled the rebound off the errant Wildcat shot. Central then sent Levy to the line, who iced the game with two more free throws. A last second 3 from Central at the buzzer was good, but it was not enough. Flatbush recorded the win on Senior night, 43-41!
With the energy in the building already stoked to a high pitch, the Boys Varsity took center stage for the nightcap, a battle with the second place DRS Wildcats. As before, the starters for both squads were introduced, and again Marlene Levy performed the two national anthems, once again leaving the even larger supporting crowd in awe, and ready for some exciting basketball.
The stands were now fully packed with Flatbush senior class members, many clad in Falcons gear, on hand to provide heavy vocal support to their fellow senior Flatbush Falcons.
Defense was on display early on, keyed for Flatbush as it has been all season long by Senior Center Jack Mishaan. It took to minutes for the first field goal to go down, and it was a Wildcat three. Flatbush answered on the next possession with a floater from Senior Guard Sonny Cayre to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Mishaan, meanwhile, worked the boards hard at both ends. Three minutes later, reserve guard Eddie Lincer brought the crowd out of their seats with a swished three ball on his first touch of the game to make it an 8-5 game in favor of DRS. A floater in the lane from Senior Guard Maurice Mosseri cut the deficit to 1. By the end of the opening quarter, the intensity was up, and the lead belonged to DRS, but it was a slim one at 12-11.
At the start of the second quarter, a freshly inserted Joe Kattan drained a deep trey from over five feet beyond the arc, drawing nothing but net, to give Flatbush its first lead of the game, 14-12. Jack Rosow followed soon after, going to the line on his first touch and scoring both free throws. The Wildcats answered right back, and at the 5:43 mark, things were all even at 18-18. Lincer responded with another three to give Flatbush back the lead. Flatbush then built a little momentum, with Rosow recording a huge block underneath and Lincer converting another three at the other end. The score stood 26-20 Flatbush with under 3 minutes left in the half. It didn’t last long, though, as DRS hit on their next three possessions. One minute later, it was again a one point game, with Flatbush clinging to a 26-25 lead. After another Falcon miss, the Wildcats scored again, and flipped the score. At the half, DRS held a 29-27 advantage.
After a few moments with the players to review the opening half, the Flatbush coaches took time to recognize the Senior Class members of their team, playing in their final home game of their careers. Assistant Coach Gus Kennedy called out each Senior individually, who was then presented with a varsity jacket at mid court by Head Coach Michael Gurock. With high fives and hugs abounding, the seven Seniors all gathered at midcourt to revel in the accomplishments made over their years as Falcons.
It was then time to get back to game action, and DRS did not wait to heat up, scoring a three on their first possession. The Wildcats soon opened a 6 point lead, but Flatbush’s Lincer answered with a pair of buckets to make the score 35-33 almost two and a half minutes in. It did not last long, though, as the lead was back out to 6 a minute later. DRS was heating up, and despite a Kattan three, another DRS bomb gave the Wildcats their first double digit lead, 52-41, with 1:52 left in the quarter. Two late baskets from Flatbush’s Rosow made it more respectable, but Flatbush still trailed 54-47 heading into the final quarter of play.
The quarter started with a Falcon miss, and then three straight Wildcats threes. In the blink of an eye, DRS had built a 16 point lead, and the game was all but over. True to form, Flatbush never stopped playing hard, battling the Wildcats to the finish. The game came to a close with a final score that was not indicative of how close the contest was for most of the night as DRS secured the win, 83-63.
At the end of the night, both head coaches reflected positively on the games as well as their respective Seniors.
Coach Mizrahi-Laudon was exceedingly proud of her girls’ performance in the spotlight. “When we asked the girls what they felt the difference in the game was, Marlene and Carolyn immediately answered ‘foul shots win games,’ followed by Jacqueline stating our defense was key. But most importantly, and something we had been struggling with all season, Frieda said with no hesitation ‘we played all 4 quarters tonight.’ As has been the case this season and their entire Flatbush careers, our seniors knew what it was going to take to win a game. These four athletes have been exceptional in demonstrating not only the skill and effort needed but how to do it with heart and respect. They are the model Flatbush Falcons.”
Coach Gurock was equally effusive in his praise. “We competed tonight from start to finish, and that is our goal every time we take the court. That attitude comes from our Seniors, and everyone has bought in to it. Maurice has been our leader all season long, and he set the tempo we strive to play with. Jack continued to be a dominant force on the boards, and anchored our defense tonight as he as done all season long. Richard has provided a burst of instant offense or pressure defense when needed all season long. Sonny, Sammy and Kenny gave us quality minutes and provided a spark to the offense. And, Murray was a great surprise, with this being his first season as a basketball Falcon, he improved every time he stepped on the court. His energy and athleticism became a key part of our game. But, what stands out most is not how the boys are on the court, but how they are off it. They truly care about each other, want to be with each other and win for each other. This is what being a team is really all about, and what has made coaching this group so rewarding!”
NEST NOTES: Both the Girls and Boys Varsity teams have qualified for the MYHSAL Playoffs. The Girls are awaiting the completion of the rest of the League’s games to see who and where they will play in the opening round.
The Boys opening round game is set, as they will travel to Lawrence, NY on Tuesday night, February 13, for a rematch with the Rambam Ravens. The previous time these teams met, Flatbush let a lead slip away, falling to the Ravens on Long Island. The Falcons will look to exact some revenge, and advance in the playoffs with a win. Any Flatbush students wishing to travel to the game should see Sammy Salzman to reserve a spot on the fan bus.
Game time on Tuesday, 2/13, is set for 8:00 pm.