Thebleachers of the iconic Yeshivah of Flatbush gymnasium were overflowing with boisterous fans. Frenetically waving gold rally towels, chanting and cheering at the top of their lungs, the Falcon’s Nest was pulsating with energy after witnessing their Flatbush Falcons complete their playoff comeback from an 11-point deficit with only a minute-and-a-half left to play.

In what had been a low-scoring game, with Magen David’s defense keeping Flatbush’s normally accurate shooters ice-cold, the Falcons desperately needed a few defensive stops in order to get their offense going, as well an inside presence against a much larger MDY squad.

In checked Murray Mizrahi. Mizrahi, a senior at Flatbush, began the comeback with a hard-earned basket in the paint, where the MDY defense had dominated all game long. With chants of “Defense!” echoing throughout the gym, Flatbush’s defense, anchored by Mizrahi, clamped down, forcing turnovers and scoring transition baskets. Defense energized the potent Flatbush offense, as Captain Nathan Haddad, Buddy Setton and Joey Dayon all contributed much-needed three pointers, foul shots, and layups. Joey Dweck tied the game with 1:38 left with a three pointer, sending the crowd into pandemonium. After three quarters of muted anxiety at the prospect of losing in the first round of the playoffs to their crosstown rivals, the Falcon’s Nest quaked at the prospect of overtime.

In the extra period, Mizrahi again came through in the clutch, draining two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound, to put Flatbush up by four. Magen David scored only once in overtime until the game was already out of reach, as Mizrahi, the defensive bulwark down low, sealed off driving lanes for opposing guards and denied entry passes to forwards in the paint. Most impressive of all, Mizrahi, along with Michael Shalom, helped lead the defensive turnaround even though he had four fouls since the early fourth quarter. In the team effort that was Flatbush’s legendary comeback, Mizrahi proved to be invaluable.

“He has been perhaps the most consistent player all season,” said Eric Amkraut, Athletic Director at YOF. “But even more importantly, he has been a leader off the court for this team.” Besides for his strong presence, Mizrahi also displays special commitment to hazanut, doubling as the team’sba’al koreh on Monday, Thursday and Shabbat whenever the team travels for a tournament, and preparing divrei Torah as needed. He is also a regular at Torah classes, learning Mishnah and halachah three times a week for the past four years.

This off-the-court commitment has not been lost on his teammates.

“Murray always showed heart, a will to win, was a veteran presence, and was a trusted member of the team on and off the court,” said Captain Michael Shalom. “He was the spiritual leader of the team.”

Mizrahi demonstrated all the skills every coach loves, as he worked hard, inspired his teammates, and never gave up on his team. These qualities of determination and discipline are also present in his daily life, through his commitment to hazanut and halachah. Combined with a gracious and kind personality, it is only fitting that Murray Mizrahi is named this month’s Sportsman of the Month.

Written by Albert Mishaan