Kings of the Court

YULA Panthers Defeat SAR Sting in Rematch of 2011 Sarachek Finals; Win Record Seventh Championship

After five days of thrilling basketball and friendly competition, the YULA Panthers of Los Angeles, CA were crowned champions of Yeshiva University’s 21st Annual Red Sarachek Invitational Basketball Tournament. The Panthers defeated the SAR Sting of Riverdale, NY by the score of 45-35 before a packed crowd in YU’s Max Stern Athletic Center. The win avenges last year’s championship game loss to the Sting and gives YULA its record seventh Sarachek Championship.

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The tournament, named for legendary former YU Maccabees coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, featured 20 Jewish high school basketball teams in a dramatic tournament played before live crowds and broadcast to audiences in the thousands.

In addition to YULA and SAR, this year’s field includes schools from across the U.S. and Canada: Bnei Akiva Schools – Or Chaim (Toronto, ON); Columbus Torah Academy (Columbus, OH); Cooper Yeshiva (Memphis, TN); Frisch School (Paramus, NJ); Fuchs Mizrachi School (Beachwood, OH); Hebrew Academy High School (Montreal, QC); Houston Bnei Akiva (Houston, TX); Jewish Educational Center/RTMA (Elizabeth, NJ); Maimonides School (Brookline, MA); North Shore Hebrew Academy (Great Neck, NY); Samuel Scheck Hillel School (North Miami Beach, FL); Shalhevet High School (Los Angeles, CA); Torah Academy of Bergen County (Teaneck, NJ); Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (Boca Raton, FL); Yavneh Academy (Dallas, TX); Yeshiva Atlanta (Atlanta, GA); Yeshiva of Virginia (Richmond, VA); and Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (New York, NY).

The second tier title went to Cooper Yeshiva, third tier went to Maimonides and fourth tier went to Columbus. YULA forward Jack Gindi won tournament MVP honors.

Excitement permeated Yeshiva’s Washington Heights Campus upon the invasion of fans and athletes of the tournament. For the first time in its history, those who could not attend the tournament  in person could still keep up with the action via broadcast in high-definition video provided by MacsLive. The broadcast was made possible with the support of Yeshiva University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Center for the Jewish Future. Fans also kept up with latest tournament news in real-time via Twitter and Facebook updates.

But the tournament served a function beyond the court. For many of the participants and fans, the tournament offered an opportunity to be introduced or re-introduced to the culture of Yeshiva University. Throughout the weekend, tours were conducted all over the campus so the young all-stars could gain an early appreciation for the unique educational environment offered at YU.

“I love this tournament,” said Jacob Kestenbaum, a tournament rookie from the North Shore team.  “It’s a great experience and a great atmosphere and I look forward to returning next year.”

Jacques Kaswan, another first-timer from Hillel Miami described the whole weekend as “very cool,” he said. “Its amazing that YU puts this whole thing together every year.”

Friends, family and fellow students all crowded the bleachers to watch the games. Ira Shein, a grandparent of two Fuchs Mizrachi athletes who had no previous YU connection was impressed with the grand nature of the tournament. “This is a wonderful event,” he said. “I think YU is giving these kids a great opportunity to feel a part of the American sport scene within a Jewish environment.”

Aviva Schechter, an aunt of two Miamonides students shared these sentiments. “This is so much fun,” she said. “The boys are having such a great time.”

Cindy Ashwal drove the 8 hours from Cleveland to watch her son Eli, from the Fuchs Mizrachi team, play in the tournament. “I would not have missed this for anything,” she said. “This is fantastic for my son to meet up with Jewish boys from all over the country. I hope YU keeps it up every year.”

For complete coverage of the tournament, including scores, statistics, game summaries and awards visit MacsLive.

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