In Glouberman’s 4th year, Firehawk boys and SAR girls dominate
November 26, 2018
Shalhevet’s very own Firehawk boys brought the school its first-ever Glouberman Tournament boys championship title, though the Firehawk girls will have to try again next year after falling short of their of their second-ever championship and finishing in third place.
The annual Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament, now in its fourth year, honors the memory of Steve Glouberman z”l, father of Shalhevet alumni Leah ‘13 and twins Jeremy and Rachel ‘15. For many Shalhevet students — players and fans alike — it is the highlight of the school year. Right in their own gym, they get to experience five action-packed days of good-natured competition between the Firehawk basketball teams and 13 Jewish high schools from across the country.
Cheers were loud and excitement palpable as the Firehawk boys pulled off a stunning 64-23 championship victory against the SAR Sting from Riverdale, NY., on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 4. It was the culmination of their perfect 5-0 record in the tournament.
“We were more determined to win it this year,” said co-MVP Zack Muller, believing that to have been the decisive factor this year as opposed to last year when they were defeated by the Valley Torah Wolfpack in the semi-final round of the tournament.
But the Firehawk girls were defeated — by none other than the SAR Sting — 55-27, in the semi-final game the night before. The Sting girls’ team ended up winning it all, advancing to the championship game after their semifinal win against the Firehawks to face the Frisch Cougars of Paramus, N.J.
And in a similarly dominant fashion, the Sting beat the Cougars 57-39 in the championship game the next day. This year was the first time SAR had attended the tournament.
Another great perk for SAR was that their tournament victory came at the expense of Frisch — their rival school.
“Nothing is better than beating Frisch,” said SAR girls coach Tali Zelenetz. “It’s always a good feeling.”
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This year’s Glouberman Tournament featured 19 teams — 10 girls and nine boys — from 13 schools from across the country, compared to six girls teams and 12 boys teams last year.
To boost school spirit and energy heading into the Glouberman Tournament, Shalhevet’s administration decided to host a “tailgate”-style barbecue prior to the opening game on Oct. 31.
Around 100 Firehawk fans stayed for the party on the rooftop turf after school and enjoyed food, music and schoolwide unity.
“It’s not just about the basketball teams, but about bringing the school together,” said Dean of Students Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg, a chaperone for the event. “The tailgate is about pride, energy, and spirit.”
It was mission accomplished, based on the energy in the gym for Shalhevet vs Valley Torah game that followed at 6 p.m. Even with Sarachek MVP and future Glouberman co-MVP Zack Muller being unavailable for the game due to illness, the Firehawk boys beat the Wolfpack — last year’s winners of the boys Glouberman tournament — 55-41, led by 15 points from forward Asher Dauer.
The fiery atmosphere in the gym continued on into the next game at 7:30 p.m. as the Firehawk girls took on rival YULA Panthers.
Shalhevet guard Maital Hiller led her team with 11 points to beat the YULA Girls 44 -14.
The general consensus among Firehawk fans was that the tailgate party had helped.
“It got everyone in the mood to have fun,” said freshman Amanda Wannon.
Also building up ruach — spirit — for the tournament, in the week leading up to the games a group of students had made colorful posters, which plastered most of the walls of the gym. Some bore nicknames of Firehawk players, and others showed names and logos of visiting teams.
Sophomore Gila Marcus said the purpose of the posters was to show the school’s support for the entire tournament.
“We’re not just playing against [other teams],” Gila said. “But we’re actually coming together as a community to show our support for the Glouberman Tournament in how we honor the legacy of Steve Glouberman.”
Winners of the Steve Glouberman Tournament Mensch award were Frisch forward Allison Zimmerman from the girls’ tournament and TABC guard Akiva Hain from the boys’ tournament.
For the boys, new teams were the Ramaz Rams from New York City and the HAFTR Hawks of Cedarhurst, NY. Returning teams were the Frisch Cougars from Paramus, NJ.; the MTA Lions from Washington Heights, NY.; the RASG Warriors from Miami Beach, FL.; the SAR Sting from Riverdale, NY.; the TABC Storm from Teaneck, NJ.; the Valley Torah Wolfpack from North Hollywood, CA, and the Shalhevet Firehawks.
New additions to the girls’ tournament were the SAR Sting; the Ramaz Rams; the HAFTR Hawks; the Cobras of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School from Livingston, N.J; and the Lions of Northwest Yeshiva High School from Seattle, WA. They joined existing teams the Frisch Cougars; the Katz Yeshiva High School Storm from Boca Raton, FL; the RASG Warriors, the YULA Panthers, and the Shalhevet Firehawks.
The tournament may have reached its maximum length of five days and capacity of 19 teams.
With only two venues — Shalhevet and the nearby Westside Jewish Community Center — and 43 games, competition was held around the clock, starting as early as 8 a.m. and as late as midnight.
The tournament lasted from Wednesday to Sunday, yet only Thursday featured a full day’s worth of action. Beginning Wednesday at 6 p.m., games paused Friday afternoon and resumed on Saturday night, because of Shabbat. Sunday’s last game — the boys’ championship — was played at 12 noon so players could fly home to distant cities for school the coming week.
“We intentionally use home hospitality for cost reasons [for the visiting players], and because of the hachnasat orchim, or welcoming guests, aspect of it.
— Rabbi Ari Segal, Shalhevet Head of School
Regardless, Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal said that the tournament shouldn’t last for longer than it does, because it would mean too much missed school for the players–especially for those who already miss two days of school to travel to Los Angeles and back.
“It’s not fair to the schools and to the teachers in the schools — including Shalhevet — for students to be out for more than three days of school,” Rabbi Segal said.
For similar reasons, Rabbi Segal said that the tournament team limit should be capped at around 20 teams.
Moreover, it would be a logistical challenge to accommodate more teams, since Shalhevet houses players in Shalhevet homes and not at hotels.
“We intentionally use home hospitality for cost reasons [for the visiting players], and because of the hachnasat orchim, or welcoming guests, aspect of it,” Rabbi Segal said.
According to Rabbi Segal, except for the Red Sarachek Tournament in March, the Steve Glouberman Tournament is already the largest basketball tournament of Jewish schools in the country.
Rabbi Segal said having a third gym to host games at would have done little to alleviate the late hours, since the Shalhevet gym was the preferred venue of the four semi-final games on Saturday night anyways.
And for next year, Rabbi Segal said that the tournament size will probably stay the same.
“I think we’re at a good number,” he said.
Coming into the championship game, the undefeated SAR Sting had momentum from previous games, in which they had been nothing short of dominant.
But the Frisch Cougars had momentum, too. Their smallest margin of victory in four previous games was an astonishing 27 points against KYHS in the semi-final game.
As they had versus the Firehawks in the semi-finals, the Sting quickly jumped to a big lead to start the game. Frisch Coach Kristin Rainbolt said the early nine point deficit made it hard for the Cougars to fight back.
“We just couldn’t get it together to get back into the game,” Coach Kristin said.
She said the Cougars’ original game plan focussed on containing SAR forwards Samantha Horowitz and Sophia Reich, but the SAR team had talent all over the court.
“It’s hard when your focus is on two players and then you have other players that are capitalizing when needed,” she said.
Even though they lost, the Cougars have a chance for redemption in the regular season.
“Hopefully we’ll beat them when it counts, back home,” Coach Kristin said.
Frisch guard Daniella Rothschild said she took this loss against the team’s rival personally, but she hopes her team will get revenge against SAR soon.
“It’s motivation for the future — now we’re going to come back stronger,” Daniella said.
Firehawk guard and co-MVP Zack Muller dribbles the ball up the court in the Firehawk victory over the Frisch Cougars, 53-29, on Nov. 2.