NCSY LI BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT DRAWS BIG NAMES FROM YESHIVA LEAGUE AS BROOKLYN TEAM WEARS THE CROWN
By Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Director, Long Island NCSY
“I have played in many tournaments and many leagues throughout my years playing ball. It’s very simple, The NCSY Tournament is hands down the best tournament I ever played in,” declared one competitor.
The combination of competition, packed gyms, free food, great organization, and activities for children made for a perfect afternoon for well over 500 people on Sunday, April 22. Long Island NCSY hosted its inaugural five-on-five basketball tournament in the “Five Towns” this past Sunday and drew some of the Yeshiva League’s biggest names from past years. Many players commented throughout the day that the organization and format of the tournament was “top-notch.”
The tournament kicked off in the morning at six different locations. Each location hosted four teams. The top two teams from each location, along with four lottery winners overall, advanced to the round of 16 at Lawrence Middle School. Following lunch for the 166 competitors, sponsored by Central Perk, the competition got stronger and fiercer. As eight teams emerged from 16, people started to file into the venue. With activities and entertainment for children, along with a free barbecue for the community donated by Supersol, friends and family poured into the gyms to catch the high-level ball. “It’s hard to get away from your family for a full day,” said one player, “but when you are told, ‘Hey, bring your family and we’ll make sure they have a good time as well,’ it makes it a pleasure to spend the day playing ball.”
By 3:30 the event was in full swing. Eight teams were playing for the right to compete in the Yeshiva University -- sponsored Final Four at the biggest Jewish tournament around. A hundred or so children were outside on a beautiful day watching a magic show. Another 400-500 people were going back and forth between the barbecue and the basketball gyms checking out the food and the games. One father said, “You could not ask for a better way to spend a Sunday with your family. There is something here for everyone in the family to do, and I get to watch some great basketball.”
By 4:45 only four teams remained. One would think after six-and-a-half hours and five games the teams would be tired and sluggish, but this was not the case. The competition moved to an even higher level in the semifinals as the top four teams faced off for a chance to play for the championship. The four teams remaining were determined to find a spot in the Final Two.
At 6:00 the championship game was set. The game would begin following a raffle for two tickets to Israel contributed by Israir Airlines and a quick and meaningful speech from an NCSY high school student. This game featured a team of young college players, three of whom currently play for Yeshiva University, led by outstanding shooter Itzy Ribald. Itzy finished third in the nation in Division III basketball this past year in three-point field goal percentage. Along with a couple of teammates this team powered through the morning and shot its way into the Final Four and championship game. In the finals it would face what would be its toughest match of the day and ultimately an opponent that would prove to be too skilled. A team of seasoned Brooklyn natives would end Ribald and his team’s chances of bringing home a trophy.
The champion’s roster consisted of, Alan Levy, a former yeshiva high school and Yeshiva University star; Morris Dweck, a Yeshiva of Flatbush legend and well-known for his court leadership skills; Ayal Hod, the second all-time leading scorer in Yeshiva University’s history; Jamie Dweck, a former Magen David superstar, who has taken his game to another level since high school; and Danny Levy, Jack Beyda, and Solly Kassab. This team had the perfect mix of talent, youth, brains, and a couple of veteran stars to provide leadership. Many of the players on this team have been playing together a long time and the chemistry showed throughout the tournament.
A great team won a great game to cap off a great event and a great day for NCSY and the Long Island Jewish community. The players and fans all left feeling proud to have participated in such a terrific event. Jamie Dweck’s comment on his way out: “Count us in for next year.”