February 25, 2016

Boys Basketball Rebounds Post-Slobodien Boo-Boo

Matt Nadel ‘17
The Golda Och Academy Roadrunners boys’ basketball team was right in the thick of things in the Super Essex Conference’s Freedom Division, when disaster struck.
In a crucial win over inter-conference rival Nutley, senior Harrison Slobodien punctured his lip, requiring 30 stitches and a place on the sidelines for at least three weeks. The team had to change its strategy completely heading into a game against Bard.
“We had to really step up on defense,” said senior Noah Susskind when asked about Slobodien’s absence. “We lost a lot of speed and we had to make it up with our aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball.”
With that mindset, the Roadrunners soared right out of the gate en route to a 55-40 victory against Bard. They tallied 15 points in the first quarter, while Bard only put seven on the board. Susskind scored 13 of those 15 points – 33 of the team’s 55 total – and also managed to grab seven boards.
As the game progressed, GOA continued to capitalize on Bard’s mistakes, which ranged from numerous traveling calls to steals and blocks to fouling on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
“Every man knew where they needed to be,” explained sophomore Elijah Taitel. “Once [Bard] made a mistake we could pass to guys down the court for layups.”
After the first quarter of play, each team had committed zero fouls. However, the penalties started in the second and didn’t stop flowing. Combined, the teams totaled 24 fouls in the final three quarters and seven total players committed at least two fouls.
Despite the seemingly constant stoppage of time, the Roadrunners never let Bard take advantage of the few mistakes they made. GOA never trailed in the game and increased the difference between the two schools’ point totals every quarter.
Some other key contributors to the Roadrunners’ win included senior Matt Blum, who scored 11 points, and sophomore Alex Moskowitz added seven. Moskowitz and junior Ari Esrig led the team with three assists apiece and Esrig also led the team in rebounds with seven.
Unfortunately, the Roadrunners were unable to rally around their injured comrade for the remainder of the season, as GOA won four of its final 11 games, including a four-game skid between January 26 and February 2.
Slobodien, however, was on the court for his final game as a Roadrunner, adding five points in a 26-35 loss at conference leader Christ the King (9-2, 12-10). The Roadrunners kept things close for much of the game and went into the fourth quarter tied 19-19, but were outscored 7-16 in the final quarter. Slobodien’s fellow senior, Blum, scored a team-high 10 points in the loss, which dropped GOA to a record of 7-5 in conference play, 9-10 overall on the season.

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