BP Photo by Alyssa Wallack

PAUSE: Firehawk boys basketball team members paused on the court before the first game as Rabbi Block led 11 seconds of silence in honor of victims of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Star guard Zack Muller, second from right in blue, did not play, but the Firehawks won anyway.

Glouberman opens with more teams, more fans and two victories for the Firehawks

Zack Muller misses opener for health reasons; girls teams outnumber boys at tournament for the first time

October 31, 2018

The fourth annual Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament began tonight with a Firehawk boys victory over the Valley Torah Wolfpack and a girls victory over the YULA Panthers, both in front of capacity crowds in the gym and overflow fans watching on TVs in the foyer and cafeteria.

The girls, who played second, demolished the Panthers 44 – 14, while the boys, playing without Sarachek MVP Zack Muller, won decisively, 51-43, over the team they’d defeated in a nail-biting final last year in New York.  Zack had been ill earlier in the day.

“He’s like a son to me, and there’s no way that I was going to allow him to go out there if there is something wrong with him without getting checked out,” said Coach Ryan Coleman, who made the call against Zack’s wishes. “I just couldn’t take that chance. This is a full-play game, it’s a really long season, so I made the call.”

Asked whether he expected Zack to play tomorrow, he said, “Absolutely.”

Tonight’s games were for seeding and didn’t count toward the championship, but the victories were still sweet for both Firehawk contingents.  Star junior Kiku Shaw said it was great for the girls to play a whole game together for the first time this season.

“I think it was really good for our first game,” said Kiku after the girls victory. “We didn’t really ever play a full game before that, and I think we were really able to work out some kinks. And I’m really excited for the rest of the tournament because now we know what we’re working with and what we need to do in our next steps.”

Coach Coleman praised his team’s strong comeback in the second half, after having been down by one point at the end of the first. He also had words of praise for Valley Torah coach Lior Schwartzberg.

“Lior Schwartzberg is awesome — he knows all of our stuff, so it makes it really hard to play against him,” Coach Coleman said. “It’s super early in the year… our effort overall in the second half was good. We were able to get out on fast breaks and get some easy buckets.”

This year’s Glouberman meet, which runs through Sunday, is the largest yet with new teams, more teams, and for the first time, more girls teams than boys teams.

There are 10 girls teams this year — four more than last year — and nine boys teams, two fewer than last year.

Tipoff between the Shalhevet Firehawks and the Valley Torah Wolfpack boys teams was set for 6 p.m. to be followed by the first girls game between Shalhevet and YULA scheduled for 7:30.

But delays started early, among them a tribute by Judaic Studies principal Rabbi David Block to victims of Saturday’s synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Saying that the tragedy was weighing on all Jews’ hearts, he said the basketball meet presented an opportunity to showcase Jewish pride.

He then led the packed gym in 11 seconds of silence, one for each victim of the attack.  He did the same at the girls game, which started at 8:02.

Earlier in the day, Shalhevet held a first-ever “tailgate” party on the third-floor rooftop turf, where a barbecue more reminiscent of football games whipped up school spirit and fed everyone after school.

The whole school was invited to the tailgate, but not everyone could watch the games in the gym.  Fire regulations meant that organizers had to set a strict cap of 260 people in the gym at a time.

Student Activities Director Ilana Wilner, who has been in charge of logistics for the meet, said the 260 spots were divided this way: 95 for Shalhevet students, 15 for prospective students, eight for faculty members, 42 for Firehawk players’ families, and 100 for Valley Torah supporters. The remaining 10 tickets went to VIP donors and the Glouberman family.

Tickets were free but had to be reserved. A Schoology announcement Monday, Oct. 29, warned students to act fast.

“There are limited number of seats for Shalhevet students to attend,” Coach Coleman wrote in Student Activities on Monday at 2:22 p.m. “There will be a sign up tonight at 8 p.m. It will be first come, first serve. You need to sign up for each game!

“If you’re taking a spot, you better cheer like crazy!!!” he added.

Not everyone saw the announcement, and students were still scrambling for tickets Wednesday afternoon. Sharing so that one person could see the first game and one the second was not allowed, officials said.

Dean of Students Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg explained the worry about capacity tonight was because all local teams were playing.

Because we are playing local teams (Valley Torah & YULA), we need to give them tickets as well, which limits the availability for some of our students,” Rabbi Schwarzberg wrote on Schoology Monday evening.

“Everyone can watch on Thursday during school,” he added. “This is just for Wednesday.”

Anyone not admitted to the gym can watch live broadcasts of all games, including those at the JCC, on Youtube through a link on this website. Boiling Point announcers have been calling all games in the Shalhevet gym, with play-by-play and color commentary.

Meanwhile, fans aren’t the only ones who don’t all fit in the gym.  Once again this year, the tournament will use the Westside Jewish Community Center on Olympic Boulevard, this time for 18 of Glouberman’s 43 games.

Girls teams this year are the Hawks of Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) of Cedarhurst, N.Y.; the Cobras of Kushner Yeshiva High School of Livingston, N.J.; the Lions of Northwest Yeshiva High School of Seattle; the Rams of Ramaz of New York City; and the Sting of SAR (Salanter Akiva Riverdale) of Riverdale, N.Y.

They join returning girls teams from Frisch in New Jersey, the Cougars; Katz Yeshiva High School of Boca Raton, Fla., the Storm; and RASG (Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Academy) of Miami, the Warriors; along with the Shalhevet Firehawks and YULA Panthers of Los Angeles.

Northwest, Kushner, YULA and KYHS are only sending their girls teams.

In the boys’ lineup, only the Ramaz Rams and HAFTR Hawks are new this year. Returning boys teams are RASG, Shalhevet, Frisch and SAR, along with the Lions of MTA (Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy) of Washington Heights, N.Y., the Storm of TABC (Torah Academy of Bergen County) in Teaneck, N.J.; and the Wolfpack of Valley Torah High School, North Hollywood.

 Chief Video Editor Sabrina Jahan contributed to this story.



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