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Mooseheart forward Makur Puou finishes a first-half dunk for 2 of his game-high 30 points in the Ramblers 70-67 sectional semifinal loss to Chicagoland Jewish.
Mooseheart's Wale Sanni holds the ball in the first half of the Ramblers loss to Chicagoland Jewish in the IHSA Class 1A Mooseheart Sectional semifinals.
Mooseheart's Peter Kurowski pulls down a rebound against Chicagoland Jewish. Kurowski scored 8 points in the Ramblers' season-ending defeat.
MOOSEHEART, Feb. 27 – Up 10 points midway through the fourth quarter on its home court in a sectional semifinal and you might have thought Mooseheart boys basketball coach had a good feeling his team was going to defeat Chicagoland Jewish and move to a sectional title matchup with Newark.
But that's not the way this contest ended. Chicagoland Jewish used a ferocious finish in the final three minutes to erase a 64-54 deficit and eliminate the Ramblers from Class 1A competition with a 70-67 victory.
"You know what, I never ever once thought that," Ahrens said when asked if he felt victory was imminent. "I was kind of happy because we were hitting free throws and that was a good sign for us. But I never once felt we were out of the woods."
Chicagoland Jewish (21-3) advances to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. sectional title game against Newark, which defeated Chicago Hope Academy 61-51 in Wednesday's other semifinal.
"This is the worst," Ahrens said. "We didn't want to lose at home. We get to the sectionals and we get to play at home and we didn't even get to the finals. It's extremely disappointing."
The keys for the Tigers were senior Jake Newlander and his sophomore brother Josh Newlander who combined for 46 of their team's points. Jake Newlander hit five three-pointers and led Chicagoland Jewish with 25 points. He scored 11 in the fourth quarter including 6-for-6 free throw shooting.
Josh Newlander kept the Tigers close in the third quarter where he scored 14 of his 21 points and hit four of his five three-pointers. For the game, Chicagoland Jewish hit those 10 Newlander three-pointers while Mooseheart did not score anything but two-point baskets.
The key run came inside the final three minutes. Jake Newlander hit a pair of free throws and then a basket; Avidan Halivni scored; Josh Newlander hit a three-pointer; Daniel Fishbaum scored inside and Jake Newlander hit a three-pointer – and the Tigers led 66-64 with 25 seconds to play.
While Mooseheart (24-6) closed to 66-65 on a Makur Puou free throw with 17 seconds left, the Tigers were able to hold on for the famous victory.
"I just knew how well they shot the three that 10 wasn't enough," Ahrens said.
Chicagoland Jewish finished the game outscoring Mooseheart 24-17 in the fourth quarter and 46-34 in the second half.
"We were dribbling too much against their press," Ahrens said. "We didn't pass the ball very well against their press. I don't know how many turnovers we had – we probably had 25. That's a tough way to end the season."
While the Newlanders provided a one-two scoring punch for Chicagoland Jewish, Puou put on an offensive show in the first half and finished as the game's top scorer with 30 points. In the first half, he scored 21 points and added 14 rebounds.
"When you give him the ball, he's going to score," Ahrens said. "Then we all of a sudden stopped giving him the ball."
Puou's production allowed the Ramblers to recover from an 18-10 deficit early in the second quarter and lead 33-24 at halftime.
"At halftime, I thought we were sitting OK," Ahrens said. "I thought we could hold and whoever got to 50 was going to win this game. And golly, they ended up with 70. We haven't given up 50 since Dec. 8."
Chicagoland Jewish 70, Mooseheart 67
Chicagoland Jewish: Schwartz 0 1-3 1, Josh Newlander 8 0-5 21, Silverman 1 0-0 2, Moses 1 2-2 4, Jake Newlander 7 6-6 25, Halivni 1 0-0 2, Sigler 1 0-0 2, Goodman 1 1-2 3, Fishbaum 4 2-4 10. Totals 24 11-22 70.
Mooseheart: Odunewu 1 5-6 7, Hart 0 0-1 0, Kurowski 4 0-1 8, Deng 5 3-4 13, Gbadebo 0 0-0 0, Puou 12 6-11 30, Sanni 2 1-2 5, Nyang 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 15-25 67.
Chicagoland Jewish 16 8 22 24 - 70
Mooseheart 10 23 17 17 - 67
Chicagoland Jewish: Josh Newlander 5, Jake Newlander 5.
Fouled out: None.