July 9, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Phoenix Mercury Tops Minnesota Lynx in the First-Ever CMEK Women’s Championship

The Phoenix Mercury defeated the Minnesota Lynx 55-48 to capture the first ever CMEK Women’s League Championship. After Minnesota took a 44-30 lead with just about 12 minutes to go in the game, Lynx Captain, Jen Sanders (Ma’ayanot Athletic Director), subbed out to take a much-needed breather. During that time, the momentum swung as Phoenix scored eight straight points to cut the lead to four. After a flurry of outside shots by ‘Sharpshooter’ Danielle Strauss (Moriah parent/Ramaz alum) who poured in 14 points, Kristen Kush (CMEK coach) and Sharon Bartel (BPY parent and Frisch alum) (14 points) scored in the paint to give Phoenix the lead that they would not relinquish. Sari Jacoby (Yavneh parent/Frisch alum) pulled down six rebounds. Shlomit Stein (BPY parent/Frisch Alum) iced the game at the foul line. Miriam Motechin (RYNJ parent) was the team’s vocal leader and played great defense. In defeat, Debbie Schwartz, (BPY staff) scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Kristen Kush of Phoenix, the league’s best player, totaled 24 points, totaling a league high of 115 for the season, to earn MVP honors. When asked about Kush, Strauss commented “Kristen Kush is a team player, great competitor, wicked jump shot and all around great person. She’s the type of person I would want to coach my kids.” That’s good news for all of the girls in the community as Kush will begin coaching the older CMEK girls this spring. Strauss added: I recently moved to New Jersey, and having played many years of competitive basketball in NYC, I was thrilled to learn CMEK was starting a league for women close to home. My favorite part of the league is not only getting to play in an organized game weekly, but playing with old friends (and rivals!) from high school days. It’s been great getting to know some new faces as well, and knowing that there are many other women around here who are as passionate about playing ball as I am.

Sharon Bartel, whose daughter Mia, in kindergarten, has already started basketball training with CMEK, is also a volunteer coach for her son Miles’ MGBL team. “Being part of the CMEK women’s league has been a rejuvenating experience for me. After nine years of only touching a basketball to play 1-1 against my son or show my daughter how to dribble, it was exciting to be back on my home court (Go Cougars!) playing basketball with old friends and new. After the first session on Nov 23 I came home and told my husband how proud I was of all the women who came out to play. No judgments. Self-consciousness suspended. It’s just women coming out after a busy day of work and childrearing to work hard on the court and get some healthy social exercise. Thanks for letting us all have a chance to relive the glory days and show our friends and family that “we still got it!”

Jen Sanders adds: “My favorite part of the league was having camaraderie with my peers in a sport I played all my life. I mean, if I wasn’t going to be in WNBA (I’m 5’4’’), how was I going to play competitively? For me, no exercise can replace the feelings we get from organized sports. I’m very glad to have been a part of this league, because the players continue to enjoy the intensity of the game with the intent of fair play.”

The league is run by Chad Mekles, founder and head coach of CMEK. “The level of play is very high and each game is extremely competitive. We have four teams based on the WNBA: New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Minnesota Lynx and LA Sparks. Our goal is to add two expansion teams (Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever) by the Spring Season. We play Monday nights at 8pm and 9pm at BPY. The league is for experienced players only with Season 2 beginning Monday, February 1.

When asked about starting a men’s league, Mekles said “As the old saying goes, ladies first. We do intend to start a men’s league sometime this year, so anyone who has game should contact us.” For more information about CMEK, visit www.CMEK.com, email [email protected] or call 201.927.3027.

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