In a rivalry contest to open the MJDSBL Boys 6th Grade Playoffs Tuesday night (2/27), The Flatbush Falcons turned up the defensive heat on the Magen David Warriors in the second half, and rode the third quarter cushion to victory and a berth in the Finals by a score of 33-25 at the YoF Elementary School Gym in Brooklyn, NY.
Flatbush jumped out quickly when Joey Hara turned over his MDY counterpart and streaked to the basket for the opening score of the game. Benny Keda followed with two more hoops for Flatbush and the Falcons had a 6-2 lead two and a half minutes in. A Darren Kassin jumper kept the lead at 4 a few minutes later. With strong defense carrying play the rest of the quarter, that was where things stood after one, 8-4 in favor of Flatbush.
Relying on strong defense, it took the Warriors two minutes to pull even at 8-8. Flatbush had grown cold, missing on a few good looks at the hoop. An errant Falcon pass then tipped the score towards MDY for the first time in the game when a breakaway lay up gave the visitors a 10-8 lead. It took five minutes for Flatbush to finally get a second quarter shot to drop. When Keda finally did, the score was 12-10 Magen. The bucket helped, though, as Ronnie Chaaya evened things with a jumper on the next Falcons possession. A jump ball with 5.7 seconds left gave Flatbush one more possession. Hara made it count, swishing a “J” at the buzzer to give Flatbush a 16-14 lead at the half.
The game was a close one, and the Falcons clearly had difficulty on the offensive end, at the half Head Coach Gus Kennedy his Assistant Coach Joey Dayon turned their focus to the team’s defense. They knew that was the key to winning this game. It took only a matter of seconds for Magen to pull even to tie game, but Hara answered right back for the Falcons. The Flatbush guards – heeding the directive of their coaches – then turned up the pressure, with Isaac Cooper and Joey Hara the beneficiaries. Half the period was now gone, and Flatbush had its largest lead of 6, 24-18. The defensive pressure was suffocating the Warriors, and Flatbush was now moving the ball on offense, finding the open man. With 1:20 left, the Falcons had extended the lead to 10 points. Flatbush held that lead heading into the final quarter of play, 28-18.
Flatbush continued to flash the defense, turning the Warriors over on their first three possessions of the quarter. But, Flatbush struggled to score, and with just over 4 minutes left Magen had closed to within 6 points. A beautiful pass from Khaski to Victor Ryba for an easy finish finally got Flatbush back on the board, pushing the lead back out to 8. With two minutes to play, the Falcons began to spread the floor, and Magen was forced to foul. The line was not a strong suit for the Falcons this game, having gone 1-9 to this point. But that changed when the Warriors sent Khaski to the line. He swished both, giving Flatbush an 11-point lead with 1:28 left on the clock. Magen would score a late basket, but the Falcons lead was too great. Flatbush closed out the semifinal win, 33-25, earning a spot in the MJDSBL finals!
NEST NOTES: Joey Hara led all scores with 12 points on the evening. Benny Keda and Isaac Cooper each had 6 points. Darren Kassin had three points, and also led the team in rebounding. Chaaya, Khaski and Ryba each scored 2 points in the game.
The Flatbush 6th Grade Boys now await the winner of the other semifinal game between HAFTR and North Shore (Flatbush and North Shore both finished the regular season with equal 9-1 records). The site, date and time of the Finals is yet to be determined.