June 20, 2024
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Hustle & Heart Sports FIDF Invitational Girls All-Star Game Roundup

(H&H Sports) History was made for high school girls basketball this past Saturday night. Jewish Hoops America (JHA) along with Hustle & Heart Sports hosted the first-ever FIDF Invitational National Jewish girls all-star basketball game. The top 16 female players from various yeshivot across the country were selected by a JHA athletics committee. Players were divided into two teams; players from the New York/New Jersey yeshiva high schools (yeshiva team) against players from Jewish high schools all over the U.S. outside of the New York/New Jersey area (national team).

Te Yeshiva League all stars included seniors Merle Kassab of Flatbush; Galil Neuer and Samantha Pruzansky of Yeshiva League champion Frisch; Ayelet Ostrin of Ma’ayanot; and Clara Rosen of SAR; and juniors Leila Sakhai of Ramaz, Shirel Kashimallak of NHSA, and Daphna Steinmetz of SKA. Playing for the National team were seniors Meira Falk of Berman Hebrew Academy; Arielle Grossman and Yalee Schwartz of JHA Nationally ranked #1 Shalhevet; Mia Meldung of Donna Klein Jewish Academy; Ilana Schwartz of Ida Crown; and Shani Schwartz of Jewish Day School; and juniors Kira Heumann of YULA and Lilly Yalovsky of Yavneh Dallas.

Players flew in on Thursday and everyone participated in team practices Friday afternoon at SAR Academy. Coach Ryan Coleman from Shalhevet High School coached the National team and Lee Joffe from SAR High School coached the Yeshiva League team. After their respective team practices, the girls spent an inspiring Shabbat together in Teaneck and headed out for their game Motzei Shabbat.

On Saturday evening, the Panzer Athletic Center at Montclair State University was filled with friends, family, fans and basketball scouts coming to watch the girls play. The night started off with the Frisch choir singing a stellar rendition of “Hatikvah” and the National Anthem. Spectators were treated to a performance from the Ramaz dance team, heard from an FIDF representative and a lone soldier, and had a chance to see a friendly sixth/seventh grade girls Hustle & Heart scrimmage at halftime.

At the start of the game, the National team took a quick lead with Ida Crown senior Ilana Schwartz making an early steal and assist to Akiba Yavneh junior Lilly Yalovsky for the first basket of the game. The national team went on a 5-0 run before Ramaz junior Leila Sakhai changed the momentum of the game hitting one of her multiple 3-pointers to bring the Yeshiva team back into the game. Yeshiva’s SKA junior Daphna Steinmetz proved to be reliable both outside and driving hard. Both teams showed off their talents and went basket for basket, ending the first quarter with a tight 22-21 lead by the national team.

In the second quarter, Shalhevet senior Yalee Schwartz and YULA junior Kira Heumann both showed strong defense, rebounding skills, as well as reliable shooting helping the national team widen their lead at the half to 51-42. In the third quarter Frisch senior Samantha Pruzansky continued to crash the boards and showcase her reliable free-throws. With further help on offense from SAR senior Clara Rosen, the yeshiva team ended the quarter down but closing the lead 72-66.

In the final quarter the national team did not slow down. Donna Klein Senior, Mia Meldung displayed stellar court vision and passing skills, as well as leading her team offensively, capping off the 4th quarter with 19 points. JDS senior Shani Schwartz and Shalhevet senior Arielle Grossman were major offensive contributors as well. The final score was 97-83 with the national team winning the game.

All players on both teams made offensive and defensive contributions to their teams. Yeshiva Team stats included: Daphna Steinmetz: 20 points, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. Samantha Pruzansky: 19 points, 4 blocks, 1 steal, 15 rebounds, 1 assist. Leila Sakhai: 15 points, 1 block, 1 steal, 6 rebounds, 4 assists. Clara Rosen: 12 points, 1 block, 1 steal, 4 rebounds. Ayelet Ostrin: 5 points, 1 steal, 4 rebounds. Shirel Kashimallak: 5 points, 1 block, 3 steals, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. Merle Kassab: 4 points, 2 steals, 1 rebound, 2 assists. Galil Neuer: 3 points, 1 steal, 4 rebounds, 5 assists. National Team stats included: Mia Meldung: 19 points, 2 steals, 7 rebounds, 2 assists. Yalee Schwartz: 16 points, 3 steals, 9 rebounds, 2 assists. Ilana Schwartz: 14 points, 3 steals, 6 rebounds, 7 assists. Shani Schwartz: 14 points, 1 steal, 3 assists. Arielle Grossman: 12 points, 1 steal, 2 rebounds, 3 assists. Kira Heumann: 8 points, 3 steals, 7 rebounds, 4 assists. Meira Falk: 7 points, 1 steal, 2 rebounds, 4 assists. Lilly Yalovsky: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists.

Tournament organizer and Hustle & Heart Sports owner Shana Steinmetz stated, “This event was more than anything I could have imagined. It was just incredible. The entire weekend we all felt how special it was. We created a sorority of players, the first National Yeshiva All Star class. The girls have this special bond that they will keep forever. And it culminated with a packed arena and a fun high level game of basketball. It is amazing how far yeshiva girls high school basketball has come and I am so grateful to be a part of it.”

Michal Pruzansky (Samantha’s mom) told the Jewish Link “I’m very grateful Shana put this together. I was in awe watching so many talented players share the court together. It was truly amazing and the girls will remember it forever”.

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