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Three-peat! DJDS Tigers varsity boys are district champs

For the third straight year in a row, the Denver Jewish Day School varsity boys basketball team are district champions. For the third straight year, the Tigers defeated Belleview Christian in the district championship game.

Front row, l-r: Matan Halzel (head coach), Solly Bieslky (sophomore), Ty Marshall (senior), Keenan Winnerman (senior), Lev Friedman (Senior), Ronen Trujillo (sophomore), Levi Eng- bar (senior), Evan Kornbluth (sophomore), Jackson Brooks (sophomore). Back: Josh Lake (athletic director), Sam Rotbart (assistant coach), Emmanuel Sezanayev (sophomore), David Romershteyn (senior), Todd Tyrrell (assistant coach), Aaron Daniel (senior), Isaac Nieder (sophomore).

The game on the night of Feb. 24 was a thriller, in which DJDS secured a 43-40 victory in overtime, off of a three-pointer from senior David Romershteyn with 4.2 seconds left in the game — one of the most clutch shots in DJDS history.

Romershteyn is one of six seniors on this year’s team, composed of Keenan Winnerman, Lev Friedman, Ty Marshall, Aaron Daniel and Levi Engbar.

Coming off of last year’s state championship, the Tigers graduated five seniors, and most fans wrote them off this season for that reason alone. But these seniors and the rest of the team are defying the odds.

After an undefeated regular season in league play, the Tigers have formed a new identity led by Winnerman (17 points per game), sophomore Solly Bielsky (15 PPG), and Friedman (13 PPG), and have clinched the #3 seed in this year’s Colorado Class 1A 32-team regional tournament.

The Tigers lead all teams in Class 1A in Colorado averaging 17.2 assists per game as a team.

“We play as a team on both ends and that’s our bread and butter,” said Friedman. “We love moving the basketball around and we trust each other.”

Friedman has taken the role of the team’s point guard by storm, averaging nearly five assists per game.

The Tigers’ new coach is also quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. In his first year as head coach, Matan Halzel (Class of 2012) was voted 5280 League coach of the year and secured a district championship. He becomes the first-ever rookie head coach to win this award in 5280 League history.

“I’ve always believed in this group of young men from day 1,” said Halzel. “When a whole team believes in themselves and what they’re capable of, it can lead to something special.”

Now the Tigers have yet another goal in sight — returning to this year’s state tournament (Great 8). That journey was slated to begin Feb. 29 as the Tigers took on the #30 seed South Baca.

If the Tigers won their next game, they would advance to the Sweet 16 on Friday, March 1 at 2:45 p.m., at DJDS.

“Some people are just starting to find out how fun of a team we are to watch,” said Romershteyn. “We’re brothers, we’re a mishpacha, and we’re ready to go on a run.”

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