The Chicagoland Jewish High School basketball team proved this week that it can rally late to come out victorious in a win-or-go-home game.
The Tigers found themselves in such a predicament again during Saturday’s Class 1A Mooseheart Sectional championship game against Newark, falling 67-64.
While the Tigers were able to turn around an 11-point deficit against Mooseheart in the sectional semifinals Wednesday, they were not able to fully recover from a 59-51 deficit against Newark falling three points short at the final buzzer.
“We knew we could come back and we did but not enough,” Tigers sophomore Josh Newlander, who led his team with 22 points and 13 rebounds, said. “But we kept fighting again even though we were down and had a chance at the end there.”
Newlander had a lot to do with the Tigers being able to get back into the game. He drained a pair of three-pointers and had a put back in the final 1:21 to turn a 62-53 deficit into a 66-64 game with 12 seconds left.
Newark’s Brett Anderson split a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining to make it a 67-64 contest. The Tigers had a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime but Newlander’s shot, a long and off-balance three-point attempt, fell short.
Anderson (28 points) and freshman Jack Clausel (20 points) gave the Tigers fits all night, using their size and strength to their advantage. They combined to make 20-of-22 free throws and collected 17 rebounds.
Chicagoland Jewish coach Marty Dello cited the abundance of fouls, as well as the fact that Newark is a very good team as being the two biggest differences between this game and the Mooseheart victory.
“We’ve played 26 games all year and we’ve never had a game called as tight as that,” Dello said. “The second thing was they’re a really good team. You don’t get to this point if you’re not this good.”
Cold three-point shooting also hurt the Tigers and this is a team that Dello considers the best shooting one he’s had in nearly 25 years of coaching. Though the team only made 6-of-19, they made three of their six in the final 1:21.
“They knocked down their shots and were able to set up their defense,” Dello said. “And we had our worst shooting performance."
Senior Jake Newlander contributed 10 points in his career finale while Jeremy Goodman came off the bench and added 9 points.
The Tigers finish their best season in school history with a 22-4 record.
The game was rescheduled from Friday to Saturday to let the Tiger players observe the Jewish Sabbath.