Tuesday, May 30, 2023

From the moment the doors opened at 8:30 a.m. for player check in, until the end of the second evening gourmet banquet more than 14 hours later, it was a day of intense competition and family fun at Our Place’s second annual Yeshiva League Legends basketball tournament.

Held on Sunday June 10 at Basketball City on the Lower East Side’s Pier 36, the day featured 34 teams competing for high seeding in opening round-robin games and ultimately, culminating in three separate play-off brackets and championship games. The event included separate full court men’s and women’s tournaments and, all new this year, a half-court tournament for men ages 35 and up.

Schools from the tri-state area, and beyond, hit the hardwood in competitions that were fast and furious. In the full court men’s division, the Magen David Yeshiva Warriors triumphed over the JEC Thunder in a nail-biter championship game, winning 40-39. The Frisch Cougars won the tier II tournament championship, with teams from DRS, Fasman Skokie Yeshiva, Yeshiva of Flatbush, HAFTR, HANC, Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, MTA, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Ramaz, Rambam, SAR, TABC, Valley Torah High School and YULA also participating in heated match-ups throughout the day.

In a series of afternoon games, the 35 and up group took to the courts, with the MTA Lions taking home the trophy in a field that included teams from Seattle’s Northwest Yeshiva High School, Rambam, JEC and HAFTR. The women’s division had teams from Bruriah, Central, Yeshiva of Flatbush, Frisch, HAFTR, HANC, Hillel, Magen David Yeshiva, Ramaz, SAR, SKA and Shalhevet all engaging in an intense competition that started at 5:30 p.m. and lasted late into the night, with the Ramaz Rams beating the HANC Hurricanes in the championship game and the SKA Sonics winning the tier II consolation bracket.

Referees named five athletes to the all-tournament team including MVP Morris Dweck of Magen David Yeshiva (2013), Dennis Dweck of Yeshiva of Flatbush (2014), Gabriel Leifer of DRS (2016), Ariel Sokol of YULA (2014) and Shaje Weiss of JEC (2012). Also recognized for his performance was Dani Zoldan (1999), captain of the MTA Lions who won the MVP award in the 35 and up division. In the women’s division, the All-Tournament Team included MVP Tova Laufer of Ramaz (2005), Celia Cohen of Hillel (2017), Victoria Gindi of Yeshiva of Flatbush (2016), Stephanie Greenberg of HAFTR (2011) and Rachel Stahler of HANC (2006).

Billed as an opportunity to “relive old rivalries” and “create new memories,” the tournament also featured Yeshiva League Legends giveaways and a massive carnival. Several hundred fans came to cheer on the more than 230 athletes in their custom made legends jerseys throughout the day and the plentiful edibles included an afternoon pizza lunch from Bravo’s and a pair of gourmet post-championship banquets featuring an extensive barbeque with smoked meats, tantalizing beef jerky from Graze and a never ending sushi bar from Eden Wok.

The event was co-chaired by Rachelle Rosenberg and Elliot Steinmetz of Rosenberg and Steinmetz PC—the event’s Main Event Sponsor, with warm-up gear, pants and sweatshirts provided by Maurice Levy (Magen David player) of High Life LLC. The main banquet, as well as, the duffle bags and water bottles were sponsored by Josh Sasouness (Frisch player) of Dwight Capital. Other sponsors included The Orlo Fund, Arbor, GFI Realty Services, Inc., Ellkay Healthcare Data Plumbers, Gourmet Glatt, Eden Wok, Avid Fitness, Hercman Properties, Klipped, Alan and Judy Eisenman, Theryon, Hilltop Equities, MJ Property Group, the Five Towns Jewish Times and The Jewish Link of New Jersey.

More than just a highly anticipated event that drew participants from all over the greater New York City area and far beyond for a day of excitement and off the charts energy, the legends tournament raised much needed funds for Our Place which will be used to continue operating its judgment-free drop in centers for at risk Jewish youth who struggle with issues of addiction and abuse.

“In addition to providing hot meals, placing troubled young adults in therapy and rehab and helping many go back to school or find meaningful employment, Our Place provides 24/7 around the clock care, providing a lifeline to those who feel lost or hopeless,” explained Our Place Director Rabbi Aryeh Young. “Our staff is on the front lines every day of the year and have played a crucial role in helping so many find their way back onto the path to a healthy, productive and meaningful life.”

By Aryeh Young

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