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SHALHEVET, MILKEN BATTLING FOR CALIFORNIA SECTIONAL TITLE
Updated: 2017-03-02 07:00:31
SHALHEVET, MILKEN BATTLING FOR CALIFORNIA SECTIONAL TITLE

History will be made Wednesday night when the Shalhevet Firehawks take on the Milken Wildcats in the final of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.

It marks the first time that two Jewish high schools will compete for a California sectional championship. The winner will be the second Jewish sectional champ. Valley Torah took the Division 5A title in 2011.

The game will be played at Crespi High School at 7 pm Pacific time. You can watch live at NFHSNETWORK.COM.

By reaching the final, both teams qualify for the Southern California Regionals. But Shalhevet will not be eligible according to CIF rules because they are playing in the Sarachek Tournament in New York this weekend.

The Firehawks (28-9) are ranked #3 in the Jewish Hoops America National Top 25 and Milken (24-7) is #5.

Students from both schools have already spent time together this week, participating with De Toledo and YULA students in a march and group learning to counter a protest outside Shalhevet by members of the Westboro Baptist Church. And the comes against

"In a week that brought us face to face with the most virulent anti-semitism imaginable, there is something particularly beautiful about an all-Jewish sectional final," said Rabbi Ari Segal, Shalhevet's head of school. "It will be intense and hard-fought but I have no doubt the sense of unity everyone feels will transcend the result of the game and leave everyone a winner."

In the sectionals, both teams got byes into the Round of 16, where Shalhevet rallied late to beat Lancaster in overtime and Milken topped Salesian.

In the quarterfinals Shalhevet defeated Poly-Pasadena and Milken turned back Santa Ynez.

Shalhevet beat Mary Star of the Sea in the semifinals. Milken reached the final by upsetting the top-seed Notre Dame/Riverside.

The Wildcats, coached by Mike Whiting, are led on the court by juniors Amitai Afenjar and Aaron Harouni. Ryan Coleman's Firehawks rely on scoring from seniors Eitan Halpert and Edan Sokol and sophomore Zach Muller and the defense of Sammy Ellenhorn.

Shalhevet and Milken had expected to face each other early in the season in the title game of the Milken Classic. But the Wildcats fell in pool play to Mary Star of the Sea, who Shalhevet beat in the title game.

Milken then lost to Valley Torah in the 3rd Place game. Shalhevet had defeated Valley Torah in pool play.

Other common opponents were YULA, Oakwood and St. Genevieve. Milken went 4-0 against YULA and Oakwood while Shalhevet went 2-0 against them. Milken beat St. Genevieve by 11 early in the season. Shalhevet fell to St. Genevieve by 10 a month later.

Shalhevet reached the sectional final one other time, in 2013, when they lost to Rolling Hills Prep. That year they also opted to play at Sarachek instead of going on to the regionals.

In addition to Shalhevet's 2013 appearance and Valley Torah's championship in 2011, the only other Jewish school to reach a sectional final was Tarbut vTorah. The Lions lost the Division 6 championship games in 2009 and 2010.



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