By Ernest Stone
On Tuesday night at the Buchanan YMCA, Jewish Community High School of the Bay senior guard Ariel Gottlieb spent the majority of his much anticipated season debut on the bench in foul trouble.
Yet, a corps of returning players for the Wolves proved in their 45-31 non-league win over Liberty Baptist of San Jose that they have the ability and savvy to win independent of one player’s performance.
“We are capable of better,” said Wolves head coach Tim Kjar. “This first game, we see what we need to practice on, and we are fortunate today’s opponent wasn’t able to exploit some of our early weaknesses.”
One of Jewish Community’s weak spots was ball security, as the team turned the ball over 18 times, including four straight times to begin the second half.
“[In] the first half, a lot of us were overexcited, throwing up wild shots and playing faster than we had to,” said Wolves center Jonathan Gergen, who led the Wolves (1-0) with a game-high 13 points. “I made sure we slowed it down after that little second-half stretch, and I think we played more like the team we should be.”
Yet, the team that the Wolves should be remains a mystery after their first game. Despite productive numbers from Gottlieb (10 points in 22 minutes), and a distinct height advantage, the Wolves showed an inability to score in the paint.
Such an inability led to a large discrepancy at the free throw line, with the Eagles (0-1) attempting 21 shots to the Wolves six
The Eagles, however, were unable to take advantages of the breaks they were given. Liberty Baptist converted just seven of its 21 free throw attempts, while bailing out the Wolves’ lack of ball control with 21 turnovers of their own.
While the Eagles were poor at converting key opportunities, Jewish Community pounced on its chance to close out the game almost immediately.
Following a three-minute stretch in which neither team scored a point to begin the third quarter, the Wolves went on an 11-5 run to push the Eagle defecit to 13 points and put the game beyond reach.
For Jewish Community, tomorrow’s game against Conta Costra Christian will be another opportunity to assert itself as a contender.
“We need to get better, of course,” Kjar said. “But in the end, we beat a team that played hard all game and we showed that we have a bunch of returning players that know how to get things done.”
Jonathan Gergen – 13
Ariel Gottlieb – 10
Benny Sosnick – 8
Grant Fineman – 7
Michael Kostukovsky – 4
Karl Factora – 12
Owen Lagman – 9
Chris Dalag – 6
Zack Balazs – 2
John Askeniw – 2