Memphis Yeshiva Invitational

11-8-2015 | AJA Jaguars Avoid Cooper Invitational Basement, beat Akiva Pioneers, 50-34

11-8-2015 | AJA Jaguars Avoid Cooper Invitational Basement, beat Akiva Pioneers, 50-34

By: Shmuel Perl

In a game which would determine who would end up in the basement of the 2015 Cooper Invitational, the #7 AJA Jaguars took on the #8 Akiva Pioneers. Both teams wanted to avoid last place and be the only team not to win a game, so both teams played to the best of their abilities. Atlanta, who could not buy a basket in their game last night against the Chicagoland Tigers, scored first when Nadav Yeglin connected on a three pointer. Yeglin used his trademark kick one leg forward and lofted it up to put Atlanta ahead right away. The other member of Atlanta’s Twin Towers, the powerful and skilled Jacob Adler, was not going to allow Yeglin to get all the attention, so he made a nice shot in the lane on the next possession. Atlanta, who only scored seven points in the entire first half on Saturday night, had equaled that total with only four minutes gone by in the first quarter when Dustin Dayani made a layup. Dayani continued to excel, draining a deep three pointer. But Akiva, who had been shut out until that point, finally got itself going on the next possession, when Josh Kornblum banked home a bucket. But Dayani, who showed up to play in this game, countered with an acrobatic layup to give AJA a ten point lead. With under a minute left in the quarter, Yeglin made a three and Dayani scored a bucket at the buzzer to give the Jaguars a commanding 17-2 lead after only one quarter of play.

A step back jumper from Anshel Roth started things off for AJA in the second quarter, and Aden Shmuel followed it up with a spinning layup. With about three minutes gone by in the second quarter, the Pioneers finally got on the board in the second when Sven Skinner scored. On the next possession for the Jaguars, Yeglin, who is traditionally an inside player, showed off his range once again with his third three of the game to give the Jaguars their first double digit lead. After Josh Bland made a three, Akiva found a little bit of a spark, making a free throw and capitalizing on an inside move by Josh Kornblum. But the mini hot streak soon ended when Atlanta’s 5’4 freshman guard, Jacob Zeigler, made a wide open layup. With time running out in the first half, Yoni Katz hit a three to finally put Akiva in double digits, but Jonathan Nooriel quickly responded with a three of his own for AJA as the buzzer sounded.

Akiva got the first points of the second half, when Shlomo Benezra drove to the basket and scored and Josh Kornblum followed it up with a baseline jumper to cut the lead back down to single digits. However, the great Jacob Adler reappeared on the next possession with a basket inside and Dauren Parker made a long two to put AJA back up 36-14. Once again, Akiva fought back when Jason Jubas got a friendly roll, but the Pioneers just could not get a defensive stop. AJA went on a nice 7-2 run in the next minute in which they shot well from outside, while Akiva didn’t with star point guard Asher Stein not even reaching the basket on his three point attempt. The lone positive for Akiva in this stretch was the play of Josh Kornblum, who scored once again for the Pioneers. After a few scoreless trips by both teams, Anshel Roth scored for the Jaguars to make it a 27 point game. Sven Skinner made a free throw at the end of the third, and the score was 45-19 in favor of the Jaguars.

The fourth quarter started off with some confusion as AJA got the ball and started going the wrong way. Luckily, they avoided disaster when Dustin Dayani missed his attempted layup on Akiva’s hoop. After everything was sorted out, Dayani made a layup on the right end of the court to extend the Atlanta lead to 28. But Akiva came back strong, when Stein drilled a three and Yoni Katz stole the ball and scored. Akiva continued to be hot, as Benezra hit a jumper and drove in for a layup to cut the Jaguars’ lead back down to 19. Atlanta then went on a nice run of their own, led by Dayani, but Akiva countered with three points by Benezra. Akiva continued to score, but it was too little too late as the Jaguars avoided the basement by beating the Pioneers 50-34. Atlanta was led by Dustin Dayani with 14 points, and the Pioneers were paced by Shlomo Benezra with 11 points in defeat.

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