West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy focused on finishing strong

By: Zachary Manning | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 1, 2019

 West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy senior Ryan Otis tries to get by a Chesterfield Austin Catholic defender Jan. 21. The Jaguars won 61-29.

West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy senior Ryan Otis tries to get by a Chesterfield Austin Catholic defender Jan. 21. The Jaguars won 61-29.

Photo by Brian Sevald

 West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy senior Jacob Klein goes up for a layup in a game against Chesterfield Austin Catholic Jan. 21. At press time, the Jaguars were 10-6 overall and 6-4 in the CHSL Intersectional 2.

West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy senior Jacob Klein goes up for a layup in a game against Chesterfield Austin Catholic Jan. 21. At press time, the Jaguars were 10-6 overall and 6-4 in the CHSL Intersectional 2.

Photo by Brian Sevald

WEST BLOOMFIELD –– West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy boys basketball coach Mike Marek has been telling his team to keep its foot on the pedal. 

The Jaguars wanted to win the Catholic High School League Intersectional 2 this season, but ultimately finished second behind Riverview Gabriel Richard. However, Marek knows there is still a lot his team can accomplish. 

At press time, the Jaguars were 10-6 overall and 6-4 in league play, and Marek was very excited that his team was able to beat all five league opponents at least once this season. 

“Keep our eye on the prize. Let’s win out,” Marek said. “If we win out, 14-6 is a helluva record, and these kids can look back and say we had one of the best records ever in Frankel history. Also, going 8-0 at home, that’s very important to us. We do have a home-court advantage, and it’s kind of cool because, in the years past, there hasn’t
really been a big fan base that would come out here and support us.”

In his second year as the Jaguars coach, Marek has been able to turn the program into a league contender. When he took over the program in 2017-18, the Jaguars were coming off of a 4-16 season. They went 10-10 last season and have a chance to surpass that win total next game. 

He credits the turnaround to the team buying into what he’s preaching and the help he’s gotten from assistant coach Angelo Lanava. Marek and Lanava have been preaching hard work and leaving everything out on the court. 

Marek was extremely appreciative of Lanava and what he’s done to help the program. Last season, Marek was coaching by himself, but noted that having an assistant coach has been a huge help this year. 

“He’s really helped. He’s helped the team chemistry, bringing everyone together. It’s nice to have a guy on the bench I can look to that I trust,” Marek said of Lanava. “He’s a great help, the kids love him and he really helps bring the team together.”

The Jaguars have 12 players on the roster, but Marek said the rotation consists of around six or seven guys depending on fatigue and foul trouble. 

A few players the Jaguars have counted on this year are seniors Ryan Otis, Noah Schlussel, Zack Seiferheld and Jacob Klein, along with junior Ethan Mostyn. 

Marek said Otis and Schlussel are the team’s go-to scorers, while also noting that Seiferheld is a great defender; Klein is an undersized power forward that battles with the opponents’ big men; and Mostyn is a good shot blocker that can create on offense. 

“Obviously, we want to win the rest of our games. … I guess my main goal is to keep our defense solid, because that’s what it’s been like. If we keep it like that, we’ll win our games,” Otis said. 

As the season continues to wind down, the Jaguars are excited to finish out the season strong and head into district play on a high note. 

However, the Jaguars will not be competing in the Catholic League tournament. In Judaism, there is a weekly 25-hour observance called Shabbat or the Sabbath. This occurs from just before sundown each Friday through the completion of nightfall on Saturday.

The Catholic League tournament quarterfinals are on Saturday, Feb. 9 and the finals are on Saturday, Feb. 16. With the Jaguars unable to play games on Friday or Saturday, they aren’t able to participate in the tournament. 

With the Jaguars beating each league opponent at least once and their second-place finish in the conference, they were hoping for a chance to play a third game against some teams. The team is hopeful that it will be playing in the tournament next year. 

“I’m pretty sure we will. And I hope they can accommodate us. I’m hoping this season maybe opens some doors for Frankel going forward,” Marek said. “Our goal next year would be to make the Catholic League tournament and give it our best shot. Hopefully we win it, but just getting in the tournament would be a huge step, so I hope this season opens some doors for that.” 

Up next, Frankel will be on the court at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Whitmore Lake.