By Judan Rhine
8th Annual Cooper Invitational, November 6
The Eighth Annual Cooper Yeshiva High School National Invitational Tournament, hosted by the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South in Memphis, TN, is slated to tip-off Thursday, November 6. In its eighth year, the Cooper Invitational has become one of the largest Jewish high school athletic events in North America. Featuring 16 of the top Jewish high school varsity basketball teams from across the country, the event, culminating in “Championship Sunday” on November 9, will crown a national champion and a Tier II champion from one of the most competitive invitational fields in the country.
Coming off their third Cooper Invitational championship in 2013 and a stellar season wherein they finished as the #1 ranked team in the nation, the Yeshiva University of Los Angeles Lions (YULA) have set their sights on repeating as Cooper champions. A repeat this year would mark the second time YULA accomplished this feat, having previously done so in 2010 and then again in 2011.
But it will certainly not be an easy task for YULA, as this year’s Invitational also boasts Jewish Hoops America National Top 25-ers North Shore Hebrew High School (JHA Rank 2), Chicagoland Jewish (5), TABC (6), Frisch (7), HAFTR (8), Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School of Rockville (9), New Community Jewish High School (11), and Gross Hebrew Academy of Miami (20), and nationally recognized programs from the Fasman Yeshiva High School (IL), Atlanta Jewish Academy (GA), Kohelet Yeshiva (PA), Denver Academy of Torah (CO), Hillel of Deal (NJ), Weinbaum Yeshiva (FL), and hometown favorite Cooper Yeshiva all vying for the coveted championship.
The event, which was founded in 2007 by Memphian Josh Kahane, serves as an opportunity for Jewish teams from across the country to not only compete in a high-level basketball event but also to provide a venue for the player athletes to meet, develop friendships with, and learn from their counterparts in schools across North America. For many schools, the event has become both the athletic and the extracurricular highlight of the academic year.
“We are so proud of this event’s growth, not only in size, but in prominence,” commented Mr. Kahane. “With 16 participating schools, nearly 400 out-of-town guests, 50,000 viewers of our live game broadcast, and over 60,000 hits on our website, we have created something truly remarkable and, in every sense, national. But what is most rewarding and what perhaps makes this event distinct is that we have accomplished all of this within the framework of a meaningful and inspiring Shabbaton, with programming that both excites and inspires every athlete.” He added that, to some degree, the excitement and camaraderie created throughout the event off the court match or even exceed the on-court play.
All 32 games of the 2014 Cooper Invitational are broadcast live, via a five-camera HD webcast. Play-by-play and color broadcasting are provided by experienced announcers. Nearly 50 hours of broadcast time will be aired during the 2014 Cooper Invitational and well over 50,000 viewers have historically tuned in.
Players, coaches, and chaperones stay as guests in the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. Shabbos provides the opportunity to take a break from competition and join the Memphis Jewish community for engaging programming, interesting learning activities, and camaraderie, and plenty of time for players to meet and develop friendships with one another. On Friday night, the student athletes are hosted for Shabbos dinner in the homes of community members and then rejoin for learning at the Invitational’s Friday-night Oneg. Shabbos day, student athletes from all of the participating teams lead the religious services and deliver divrei Torah.
The Cooper Invitational Web-HQ at www.cooperinvitational.com provides up-to-date scores, news feeds, and scheduling leading up to, and throughout, the event weekend.
Author’s note: I was privileged to bring my team to this tournament. Although our odyssey lasted unexpectedly longer due to Superstorm Sandy (as previously chronicled in the news), the tournament is first-class and all participants were treated with Southern hospitality from the moment we landed at the airport in Memphis, throughout the tournament games and special events, as well as during a most meaningful Shabbos.
Young Israel Basketball Season Opens
Attention, all coaches, youth directors, and athletic directors: Registration is now open for the 2014–15 National Council of Young Israel basketball season. The league is open to shuls and schools in the metropolitan area, with three divisions—junior (6–8), intermediate (9–10), and senior (11–12). For further information, please contact me by e‑mail or at 516-707-2638.
Shani Hava Is Skyline Tennis Rookie Of The Year
The 2014 Rookie of the Year is now a four-time Rookie of the Week award winner, as Yeshiva University women’s tennis player Shani Hava earned the final Skyline Conference women’s tennis weekly rookie award. She was named the conference Rookie of the Week for the week ending October 26.
Hava closed out a marvelous first season for the Maccabees by going 3–0 overall, including 2–0 in doubles play and 1–0 in singles matches.
The Petach Tikva (Israel) native teamed with Jannah Eichenbaum for a pair of wins in doubles as the duo earned an 8–1 win at No. 1 against the top pair from St. Joseph’s–Brooklyn. Then, in Yeshiva’s first Skyline Conference playoff appearance in over a decade, Hava earned a 6–1, 6–2 win over the No. 1 singles player on St. Joseph’s–Long Island after earning an 8–4 victory with Eichenbaum at No. 1 doubles.
The Yeshiva women’s tennis team finished the fall with a 7–4 overall record and a 4–2 third-place showing in the Skyline Conference.
Yeshiva League Roundup
Heschel 73, JEC 60. The Heschel Heat, a young team with only one player back from last year’s team with any playing experience, opened their 14–15 season falling behind by 11 in the first quarter but fought back to take a 1-point lead at the half, 23–22. They opened up a 14-point lead after three quarters, playing excellent defense and getting great production from senior Jonathan Granowitz. They saw their lead dwindle to 6 points with two-and-a-half minutes to go in the game due to great pressure and long-distance threes from JEC. The Heat were able to hold on mainly due to shooting 23 for 26 from the foul line. The Heat had four players in double figures, led by Granowitz’s 19, senior Mor Shindler’s 14, sophomore point guard Michael Gatan’s 12, and junior Sam Schwartzben’s 11. Senior Sam Lippman, who did not play, is hoping to be back after his ankle was injured three weeks ago in practice.
DRS opens season with win over Derech HaTorah. All DRS players got in the scoring column, with Gabriel Leifer leading the way with 22 points and Yehuda Schein adding 13.
TABC edges by MTA in double overtime. After finishing the preseason with two victories over Frisch and SAR, the TABC Storm went on the road and across the GW Bridge to take on their NY rivals, the MTA Lions, for their regular season opener. Playing without two key starters, the game settled down into a defensive struggle, with MTA taking a 6–5 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, TABC received a much-needed offensive infusion by Aaron Heideman and took a 15–12 lead going into halftime. After the break, TABC upped their lead to 7 points, only to have the Lions knot the score at 21 going into the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes to go in the game and the Storm down by six, TABC went into their “Helter” full-court press and scored 6 consecutive points (4 by Moshe Brum, game-high 13) to tie it up. TABC had a chance to win in regulation but a shot rimmed out at the buzzer to send the game into OT. In the first OT, after each team scored, TABC had another last-second shot fall short to send it to a second OT. Finally, in the second OT, behind Solo Shulman’s hot foul shooting (12 pts total), the Storm headed home with a hard-fought 39–33 victory. In addition to the scoring of Brum and Shulman, TABC’s defense was led Shua Naor (6 pts), Azi Fine, Gavi Smith, Aaron Heideman, Aryeh Berman, and big man Tzvi Rotblat. MTA was led by Willie Kluger with 12 points and Steinmetz with 11 points in addition to the great team defense they played.
DRS 46, Flatbush 36. DRS broke open a close game with a strong fourth-quarter run to defeat Flatbush, 46–36, in Brooklyn. Gabe Leifer and Matt Weissberger were high scorers with 11 points each, and along with Judah Levine dominated the boards on both ends.
Magen David defeats Derech HaTorah 66–55. MDY was led by Jack Chehaber with 26 and Victor Salem with 11. Derech HaTorah was led by Adam Motavich with 36 and Oriel Buzaglow with 11. At the end of the first half, Derech HaTorah was up by 2, but MDY pulled away in the third quarter and never looked back.
HAFTR 74, Derech HaTorah 38. Jon Greenberg led the way with 40 points.
HANC JV defeats Ezra Academy. In its opening game of the season, in convincing fashion HANC outscored Ezra 52–34. HANC was led by PG Jason Abraham, with 15 points and 5 assists, and PF Orel Gamliel, with 16 points 10 rebounds.
Flatbush over Rambam. It was a packed house in Rambam’s home court Thursday night, October 30, as the Ravens had visions of flying high against the visiting Flatbush Falcons. In the playoffs last year, the Falcons ended Rambam’s successful season with a first-round win at Flatbush. The Ravens were looking to ground the Falcons. This year’s edition of the Falcons, however, brought a new sense of determination and skill to the court. The Falcons’ defense grounded the Ravens, and by the time the first period was over the Flatbush “white” press and 13 defense helped Flatbush to a 16–5 first-quarter lead.
The second period was dominated by sophomore captain C Abie Rosow, who nailed 4 buckets on a variety of moves, and blocked 4 shots. Freshman C Jack Mishaan was powerful at the middle, snaring 5 rebounds in the period. At the half, Flatbush led 31–16.
In the third period, sophomore captain SG Kevin Haddad took over the game with a trey and 2 buckets. One was a reverse layup when it seemed impossible to score but the move and reverse “English” resulted in a bucket that had the Ravens’ crowd ooing and ahhing the shot. Flatbush led 45–25 at the end of the third period. In the fourth period, the Ravens finally found their breathing room and edged the score closer, for the 55–38 finale.
Rosow led the scoring for the Falcons with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks, for a career-first double double. Haddad finished with 12 points and 4 steals. Sophomore PG Louis Zarif directed the Falcons like a floor general, and posted 10 points, 8 steals, and 7 assists. Goldberg finished with 6 points and 9 rebounds. Arazi also had 6 points and snared 14 boards. Mishaan finished with 4 points. Freshman PG Maurice nailed a big trey in the fourth period. Sam Sicklick led Rambam with 22 of Rambam’s 38 points.
A great start to the Yeshiva League season, and the JV Falcons are now 1–0 in league play. Next on tap is the opening game in the Emunah Rubenstein JV Tournament on Sunday, November 9, against Ramaz.
Heschel over Frisch 54–48. Heschel had a 10-point lead most of the game until Frisch made a late-game push cutting the Heschel lead to 2. A couple of fast-break points and great defense down the stretch by Heschel sealed the deal. Ilan Orgel had 24 points for Heschel.
Heschel over Hillel 63–23. It was a full team effort and everyone scored from Heschel. Heschel led big the entire game.
Rubenstein/Emunah Memorial Tournaments
The Rabbi Jacob and Deborah Rubenstein Memorial Varsity Basketball Tournament is scheduled for November 16–23. Known as the Rubenstein/Emunah Varsity Tournament, the inaugural edition will consist of TABC, Frisch, DRS, Heschel, Flatbush, JEC, SAR, and Derech HaTorah. The eighth annual Rabbi Jacob and Deborah Rubenstein Memorial Junior Varsity Basketball Tournament is scheduled for November 9–16. The participating schools in this year’s JV tournament are TABC, Derech HaTorah, Frisch, SAR, Flatbush, Heschel, DRS, JEC, Ramaz, MTA, Shaare Torah, HAFTR, and HANC.
These tournaments provide a positive forum for yeshiva students to honor the memory of Rabbi Jacob and Deborah Rubenstein, who perished in a Friday-night fire. Another goal is to adopt a tzedakah project, which meant so much to the Rubensteins. Most importantly, the goal is for school athletes and leaders to take a leadership role in participating in a meaningful tzedakah project.
At the request of the Rubenstein children, the funds raised though this memorial tournament will be contributed to a unique program at Beit Elazraki, an Emunah children’s home in Netanya, Israel. This program provides each child with the individual services he or she needs for one year, be it tutorial, psychological counseling, animal therapy, shiatsu, or any of myriad other therapies. These special therapies have proven to make a tremendous difference to the 220 children at Beit Elazraki, expediting the healing process. The hope is that due to the efforts of the participants, no child will be left behind.
Each school team is required to contribute or raise $1,250 for participation in the tournament to cover expenses and establish these services for the children of Beit Elazraki.
Both tournaments promise to be a great opportunity to play in a competitive basketball tournament and also raise funds for tzedakah.
YU Soccer Player Receives HVIAC Honorable Mention
Capped by helping the team to a pair of wins last week, Yeshiva University women’s soccer player Jennifer Shamsian was named a Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) women’s soccer Honorable Mention for the week ending October 26.
Shamsian netted 4 goals last week. First she scored three for her first career hat trick during a 4–1 win over HVIAC foe Berkeley College last Monday to secure a spot into the 2014 HVIAC playoffs. Then she scored a goal in the Maccabees’ 6–0 win over York College last Friday.
On the season, the West Hempstead native has logged a team high 1,102 minutes and has scored a team-high 5 goals. v
Judah Rhine is co-director of MVP Boys Basketball Camp and has been coaching youth basketball for 30+ years. He can be reached at email@example.com.