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January 25 Update: Jags Basketball Embarks on Its First Busy Stretch of the Year

Matthew Minsk

After starting the season later than normal because of COVID-19 irregularities, the AJA Varsity basketball teams weren’t able to fit in a lot of game action before winter break. The boys team squeezed in two games amidst a number of cancellations, losing both contests. The girls team managed to play only one game. 

Athletic Director Rodney Zimmerman had said that he intended to backload the schedule, to allow more time for other schools to establish COVID-19 protocols. As school got back underway in January, the boys team stared down the gauntlet of a packed schedule. (The girls team had both of their games canceled in the first stretch after winter break.)

In the ten days starting on Thursday, January 14, the Jaguars competed in six games.

The Jaguars started off on the right foot in their first game back, picking up their first win of the season over Atlanta International School. AJA enjoyed a comfortable but not blow-out ten-point margin of victory.

Senior center Doni Chasen (23) looks to finish through contact against Atlanta Adventist Academy. The Jaguars would win the game by a wide margin. (Photo: Miriam Frances/Yearbook)

The following Saturday night, the Jaguars defeated the Atlanta Adventist Academy Aardvarks by a wide margin. Three days later, on Tuesday, January 19, AJA started off their back-to-back-to-back with another blow-out win, this time over the Fulton Science Academy Mustangs. The victory pushed their record to 3-2 on the year.

The very next afternoon, the Jaguars’ winning streak came to a close, falling to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School by twenty, but they re-entered the win column on Thursday, with junior forward Elliot Sokol leading the offensive barrage to handily defeat Atlanta International School again.

Senior point guard Simmy Wilson (3) goes for a layup in the first quarter of an eventual 71-68 loss against Excel Christian Academy. (Photo: Miriam Frances/Yearbook)

To end their five-games-in-eight-days stretch, the Jaguars faced off against Excel Christian Academy in the most evenly matched game of the season thus far. Junior guard Noah Kalnitz and the steady hand of senior point guard Simmy Wilson drove the team to a 12-point halftime lead, which AJA extended to 17 midway through the third quarter. From there, the advantage dropped precipitously, down to 10 at the end of the quarter. With a few minutes left in the game, Excel Christian took the lead for good and ended up on top, 71-68.

The Jaguars’ packed January isn’t over yet. With three games upcoming this week and four the following, the boys basketball team still has a ways to go. Make sure to tune in to the live stream, which can be found on the Atlanta Jewish Academy Facebook page’s Live channel. At the time of publication, fans are not allowed to attend in person.

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