June 15, 2024
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Record-Breaking Crowds at the 2023 Sarachek Basketball Invitational

Twenty four teams vie for top spot in North America’s premier Jewish high-school basketball tournament.

(YU Sports) From March 23-27, MTA High School hosted the 30th annual Red Sarachek Invitational Basketball Tournament in partnership with Yeshiva University. The tournament welcomed 24 yeshiva high-school basketball teams from across the United States and Canada to compete for the top spot in North America’s most prestigious Jewish high-school basketball competition. The games were held at the Max Stern Athletic Center on YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights, as well as in satellite gyms in New Jersey.

Established in 1992 by YU legendary Coach Jonathan Halpert, the tournament honors the legacy of former YU Maccabees coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, who left an indelible imprint on Yeshiva University students and the greater Jewish community by revolutionizing basketball strategy across collegiate and professional levels.

“This year marks the 30th annual Sarachek Invitational, which is an extension of the storied legacy of our university and YU basketball,” said Marc Zharnest, YU’s director of High School Recruitment and Admissions. “Each year, we cherish the opportunity to host high school students from across North America, and showcase all that Yeshiva University has to offer in terms of both athletics and excellence in education. The games bring out not only the strength of our community, but also critical aspects of sportsmanship, dedication to excellence and teamwork, which go hand in hand with YU’s core Torah values.”

This year’s tournament included a lively shabbaton and tours of the university’s campus for the visiting teams, to help the young all-stars gain an early appreciation for YU’s unique educational environment. At the shabbaton, Rabbi Jacob Bernstein and Daniel Tamir, a former Division I pro in Israel and Hungary, provided inspirational speeches about the intersection between basketball and Judaism.

The electrifying championship game between Valley Torah High School (Los Angeles, California) and SAR High School (Riverdale) drew a lively crowd of over 800 spectators and brought the Max Stern Gym to maximum capacity. An additional 200 fans participated in an outdoor viewing party in the heart of the Wilf campus, with the game streaming on a high-tech digital broadcast truck. The back-and-forth game resulted in an 56-48 victory for Valley Torah, earning them their second consecutive championship title.

“This year’s Sarachek tournament brought 24 teams from all over the country and beyond to a single, prestigious, incredible platform in Washington Heights,” said Motti Meisels, head basketball coach of YULA. “YU outdid themselves with this Sarachek! From the huge screen and outside seating in front of the Mac Center to the incredible achdus displayed at our collective davening in the Hilton, this tournament simply reached the highest of levels. The basketball piece was without a doubt so epic, and sellout crowds witnessed some very gifted players on amazing teams, but most notably the players engaged, laughed, cried, matured, reflected and appreciated everything YU offered with the greatest of humility and grace. The entire Jewish community should be so proud of the men responsible for our futures. Thank you YU for an unforgettable experience.”

All tournament games were broadcast in high-definition video by the student-run MacsLive sports network. According to MacsLive Executive Director Ezra Jacobs (Sy-Syms ‘23), the network produced some 42 hours of live on-air content for the tournament, with 60 staff members manning video feeds, A/V equipment, play-by-play commentary and game write-ups. “Over the course of Sarachek, tens of thousands of viewers tuned in to our broadcasts, which required a tremendous amount of prep work to deliver a high-quality production as we covered 28 games over the course of four days,” said Jacobs. “Sarachek is undoubtedly a busy and crazy blitz, but the MacsLive team, which is entirely student run, takes great pride in connecting the wider Jewish world through the medium of sports and entertainment.”

Who took part?

Shalhevet High School (Los Angeles, California); Valley Torah High School (Los Angeles, California); Northshore Hebrew Academy High School (Great Neck); The Frisch School (Paramus); SAR High School (Riverdale); YULA High School (Los Angeles, California); Ida Crown Jewish Academy (Skokie, Illinois); Magen David Yeshivah High School (Brooklyn); Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School (Cedarhurst); Katz Yeshiva High School (Boca Raton, Florida); Maimonides (Boston, Massachusetts); Yeshivat Mekor Chaim (Baltimore, Maryland); Berman Hebrew Academy (Rockville, Maryland); Fuchs Mizrachi School (Beachwood, Ohio); Torah Academy of Bergen County (Teaneck); Yeshiva University High School for Boys, MTA (New York); Hebrew Academy of Miami, RASG (Miami Beach, Florida); Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia (Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania); JEC High School (Elizabeth); Kohelet Yeshiva High School (Merion Station, Pennsylvania); Bnei Akiva Or Chaim (Toronto, Canada); Fasman Yeshiva High School (Chicago, Illinois); Farber Hebrew Day School (Southfield, Michigan); Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys (Memphis, Tennessee).

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