While most of us are growing accustomed to the colder weather on the east coast, several yeshiva league teams went to participate in the annual Steve Glouberman Memorial Tournament last week in sunny Los Angeles, California. The yeshiva league was well represented with four teams from the western conference including: the Ramaz Rams, Tabc Storm, Frisch Cougars and SAR Sting. In past years, when the Glouberman Tournament has taken place, yeshiva league teams have always made their presence felt on the west coast winning the past three years, this year another strong push was made.
On Wednesday, November 2nd the tournament started off with the Storm taking on the tournament host the Shalhevet Firehawks. The Storm were playing without star big man Netanel Benloulu, who was sidelined for the tournament due to injury and they definitely missed his presence. Shalhevet was on fire throughout the entire game pushing the tempo to a level where the Storm struggled to compete and controlled the offensive glass leading to countless offensive opportunities. At the conclusion of the game the final score was 58-35 in favor of the Firehawks, but the tournament was far from over yet.
While the Storm were opening the tournament, Frisch Cougars faced off against the Berman Academy Cougars. Berman took an early fourteen point advantage to pull ahead of Frisch, but after a quick timeout and some minor adjustments Frsich looked like an entirely new team. The Cougars of New Jersey went on a quick 19-2 run before the half to give themselves a three point advantage going into the break. In the second half, Frisch continued their offensive takeover sparked by Alex Zakheim’s game high twenty-five points with a final score of 69-49. While this game took place, the Sar Sting beat the Maimonides M-cats without any struggle in a balanced scoring attack.
In the final yeshiva league appearance of the opening day, the Ramaz Rams defeated the YULA Panthers in a very entertaining matchup. The hometown Panthers took an early fifteen point advantage, but the Rams fought back to trim the lead to only two points at the halftime break. In the second half both teams traded buckets and runs, but the Rams took full control in the fourth quarter to pick up the victory. Junior Milan Kushner powered the comeback victory with twenty-eight points in their 59-52 victory.
On day two, the Frisch Cougars, Tabc Storm and Ramaz Rams all picked up losses, but the spotlight was on the Sar Sting as they picked up an important win against last year’s Sarachek Tournament champions’ the Valley Torah Wolfpack. In the high-scoring overtime affair, the Sting were led by Akiva Schanzer's twenty points while Andrew Helft added nineteen of his own, which were enough to surpass the best one-two punch in jewish high school basketball, Noam Mayouhas and Johnny Dan, who combined for sixty of their team’s sixty-eight points.
Day three featured the play-in games and quarter-final matchups which started off with a yeshiva league duel between the Ramaz Rams and Tabc Storm. Right off the opening jump this game promised to be exciting with each team trading baskets throughout the entire half with the Storm holding a one point lead at the midway mark. Tabc stormed out of the gates in the third quarter with an advantage as high as fourteen points, but with one quarter left in the game the Rams were not ready to give up yet. Eden Bracha and Milan Kushner were on fire for the Rams in the final period by limiting Tabc’s offensive opportunities and converting on countless offensive possessions of their own, eventually forcing overtime. Throughout overtime baskets were traded, but with seconds remaining Coach Ferguson of Ramaz drew up an outstanding play for Kushner’s eventual game winning basket to send the Rams to the quarter-finals.
The Sar Sting entered the quarter-finals round as the top seed in the bracket and easily defeated the Yula Panthers to advance to semi-finals. Shortly after this game, the Frisch Cougars defeated the Maimonides M-cats in an overtime contest, where the Cougars displayed lockdown defense in the extra period to advance to the next round. In their second game of the day, the Ramaz Rams showed their fatigue and unfortunately fell to the Shalhevet Firehawks.
After an inspirational Shabbos where players from teams throughout the country had the opportunity to bond off the court, the competition was back on for the final two rounds of the tournament. The first semi-final matchup was a rematch of the 2019 Glouberman championship game between the Frisch Cougars and Shalhevet Firehawks. The first three and half quarters of the game appeared nearly identical to their 2019 matchup, where Shalhevet took an early commanding lead and Frisch built a late comeback. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they were unable to fully complete the comeback, with the Firehawks running away with the game late in the fourth quarter.
Shortly after this game took place, the Sar Sting took on the Valley Torah Wolfpack in a rematch of their exciting matchup from earlier in the tournament. The Sting controlled the tempo of the entire first half and seemed to be in the driving seat, but an early third quarter run by the Wolfpack was transformed into an insurmountable lead. Despite strong offensive efforts from Andrew Helft and Itai Berkowitz, Valley Torah’s Mayouhas and Dan proved to be too much for the Sting.
Even though no yeshiva league teams partook in the championship game many came out to watch the battle of Los Angeles between the Shalhevet Firehawks and Valley Torah Wolfpack. The game proved to be one for the ages, as Valley Torah held a five point lead with under a minute in regulation, but Aiden Betran of the Firehawks channeled his inner Tracy Mcgrady and scored six points in the final thirty seconds to give the Firehawks a one point edge and the tournament championship.
The tournament culminated in an award ceremony where Shalhevet was crowned victors and senior Avi Halpert took home tournament MVP. The all-tournament team was then announced which included: Aiden Betran of Shalhevet, Noam Mayouhas and Natan Sellem of Valley Torah, Ben Farkas of The Hebrew Academy of Miami, and the yeshiva leagues very own Alex Zakheim of the Frisch Cougars.
Now that the Glouberman Tournament has come to a close, regular season yeshiva league basketball will have its opportunity to take center stage!