Cooper Invitational

Valley Torah WOLFPACK 2017 Cooper Yeshiva H.S. Invitational Champions!

The Tier I Championship of the 2017 Cooper Yeshiva H.S National Invitational Tournament featured the #1 and #2 seeded teams, both from L.A. California. The #1 Milken Wildcats vs. #2 Valley Torah Wolfpack.

Milken won the opening tip and quickly turned it over to Valley Torah who converted on the turnover by hitting a three pointer (Leal Saada).  Milken tied it up on a layup by Aaron Harouni and a free throw by Jonah Lubow.  Ryan Turell answered on the other end with a quick drive to the basket. Ethan Zimmerman was fouled on a three point shot and converted on two out of three free throws.  Valley Torah got into early foul trouble with some of their starters were forced to make early substitutions.  Milken converted on some of their free throws and a fast break off a turnover, which gave Milken the early lead 9-5 midway through the first quarter.  Milken pushed the ball up on every play and succeeded on several opportunities.  Ryan Turell hit a three bringing it a little closer, but Milken held a 15-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.  It was clear that the Wolfpack game plan was to rely heavily on Ryan Turell.

The second quarter opened Milken’s Doron Matian made his presence in the paint known by converting on his second hook shot down low.  The Ryan Turell show continued for Valley Torah as the superstar player knocked down shot after shot.  He single handedly brought The Wolfpack back within one point after a short run by the Wildcats, midway through the second quarter.   As the quarter was coming to end Milken began to pull away on missed shots and turnovers from Valley Torah.  Milken was able to keep a lead and dominate, without their star player Amitai Afenjar who had to sit on the bench in early foul trouble.   At the half the score was Milken 32 Valley Torah 24.  Milken’s tight defense and very fast offense frustrated the Wolfpack and led them to take quick shots and caused turnovers.

The third quarter began more balanced play from Valley Torah.  They seemed more settled and willing to wait for their shots.  Milken continued their strong play and with the return of Afenjar, made it more difficult for Valley Torah to defend them.  The scoring slowed down a bit as both teams played excellent defense. A late surge by Valley Torah in the late minutes of the quarter brought Valley Torah back to within five points.  Milken’s Afenjar once again was forced to go to the bench because of another foul.  Valley Torah began to push the ball down court and got baskets by Ryan Turell and Nada Altit.  Two freethrows from Leal Saada and a steal and conversion by Nada Altit brought Valley Torah to within one point of the lead.  Milken scored down at the other end putting the Wildcats back up by three.  Ryan Turell gave new life to the Wolfpack by hitting a three pointer at the buzzer and evened the score 42-42 at the end of the third quarter.

The gym was filled with excitement as these two powerhouses battled.  Within the first minute and thirty seconds, Milken’s star player Amitai Afenjar picked up his fifth foul and fouled out of the game.  Valley Torah star Ryan Turell caught the ball off a turnover and slammed it down with two hands to give the Wolfpack their first lead in the game, 46-44.  Milken’s Ethan Zimmerman knocked down a quick shot tying the game at 46.  Valley Torah pulled ahead again on a three pointer by Leal Saada and for the first time in the game the Milken Wildcats looked slightly rattled. But Milken would not allow the game to get away from them.  Milken’s Eli Elisha knocked down a three to tie the game back up at 49.  The lead changed back and forth and with 1:30 to go in the game Milken held a one point lead, 53-52.  Down the stretch Two freethrows by Aaron Harouni put Milken back up by three.  After two freethrows by Ryan Turell, the Wolfpack called timeout to set up for the last 49.6 remaining as they were down by one.  Milken inbounded the ball and Valley Torah wasted precious time to foul, taking the clock down to 33 seconds.  Jonah Lubow from Milken missed his first freethrow, but converted on the other putting Milken up by two, 56-54.  Valley Torah inbounded the ball with thirteen seconds and down by two…

Ryan Turell knocked down a clutch layup with six seconds to go tying the game.  Milken rushed the ball down the court but was unable to convert before time expired and the game was headed to the first overtime in Cooper Invitational Tier I history.

Overtime began with another tip off, which went to Valley Torah, however they could not convert, but a steal and conversion by Ryan Turell out Valley Torah up by two.. Aaron Harouni answered with a quick sprint down the floor and put a layup of his own.  Ryan Turell held the ball at the hash mark for the remaining 3 minutes on the clock while the crowd in the gym booed.  At 10 seconds left he made his move and took a fade away shot  and missed.  The game headed into double overtime.

Double overtime began with another tip off which went to Valley Torah.  The Wolfpack once again held the ball out at the hash to run down the clock, and the crowd booed again.  Once again the Wolfpack failed to convert and the game headed into triple overtime.

Triple overtime began with another tip off which went to Valley Torah.  The Wolfpack once again, wait for it…, held the ball out at the hash to run out the clock and hold for a final shot.  The crowd in the gym booed once again and actually broke out in song, singing Hatikvah.  Once again, the Wolfpack could not convert and the game headed into a fourth overtime.

The fourth overtime began with yet another tip off which went to Valley Torah and once again they held the ball out at the hash mark to run down the clock.  The crowd booed but that did nothing to stop the resolve of the Valley Torah coaching staff.  This time it was different.  With ten seconds remaining Valley Torah gave the ball to their superstar to take the final shot, but he didn’t shoot it.  He drove and then passed it out to Nada Altit who took the open shot from the corner and he sank it giving the Valley Torah Wolfpack the victory by three, 61-58.  With that the Valley Torah Wolfpack became the 2017 Cooper Yeshiva H.S. National Invitational Tier I Champions.

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