Sophomore Gabriel Liefer led the Yeshiva University Maccabees over The Purchase College Panthers, 87-81.
The win not only secured the Maccabees first ever Skyline Conference Championship, but also advanced them to their first ever March Madness Tournament. The Maccabees will start off their tournament run by playing against York College in Pennsylvania this coming Friday.
Leading the Maccabees to their first ever tournament appearance was sophomore Gabriel Liefer. Liefer, who joined the team this past January after returning from studying in Israel, was a tremendous acquisition. The Maccabees were six and eight before Liefer showed up. After acquiring him, they proceeded to finish off the season with an eighteen and ten record (twelve and two with Liefer). Liefer, who is 6”5, adds size to a particularly small Maccabees team by bringing a presence downlow to intimidate opponents and to get rebounds, as he did on Sunday grabbing ten of them.
Jack Ganchrow, one of the head online broadcasters for YU Basketball noted “Gabe Liefer has added a whole new dynamic to the team when he came in January. The rebounding by the youngster has really changed the whole team’s dynamic.” Liefer’s ability to knock down 3-pointers also helped spread the floor and allow the Maccabees to attack the basket more easily.
The Maccabees were able to outplay The Panthers due to their significantly better three-point shooting by shooting an impressive sixteen for thirty from deep. Junior guard Justin Hod himself knocked down six in the first half. The Maccabees held a commanding lead throughout most of the game.
However, The Panthers did go on a run later in the game and eventually took the lead. The Maccabees fought hard and had smart shot selection and eventually took the lead back. Tyler Hod, a starting guard , gave some insight in what he was thinking during that time: “After the opposing team went on a run to take the lead late in the game, we could’ve gave into the pressure and lost the game. We chose otherwise.”
Josh Kaszovitz, a Senior in Yeshiva University, expressed: “It really is an exciting time for all of us here in YU. I’m proud to be a Maccabee” Cheering and singing were heard throughout Washington Heights on Sunday. I myself heard the cheering from my apartment, a couple blocks away, late Sunday night.
The winning of the championship not only brought joy to Yeshiva University students but also brought a sense of pride to Jews on a global level. Jews across the world went to social media to express the pride they felt in their fellow Jewish brethren. Jack Ganchrow added: “It is amazing how a bunch of 20-year old’s have made such an impact on not only the Yeshiva University campus but the city and really the entire Jewish people around the world.”
The current future for Yeshiva University Basketball looks bright as well. With a particularly young team, the team will only be expected to grow and become better. As Max Hoffman, a Senior in Yeshiva University, observed: “These are the some of the ‘Heights’ of Jewish basketball. The Macs are up and coming and primed to be a contender in the division for the next few years with the core of sophomores Aluf, Leifer, Halpert and incoming freshman Ryan Turrell of Valley Torah in California.”