The first full day of Hausdorff activities got underway early – probably too early, if you ask the various players – on Friday morning (12/1) as the members of the 3 visiting teams from Memphis, Detroit and Philadelphia joined their Brooklyn hosts for Shacharit tefilot followed by breakfast in the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School building. Shortly thereafter, the first game of the day’s tournament action got underway, with host Flatbush taking on the Cooper Macs of Memphis, Tennessee.
Flatbush jumped out to the early lead, and Cooper was just not able to ever catch up. To their credit, the Macs looked much more comfortable as a team, now having at least one game under their belts. Under the direction of Head Coach Jason Redd, Cooper’s players worked hard to run their offense, even in the face of intense backcourt pressure that is the trademark of the Flatbush Falcons. Eventually, the Macs got some shots to drop. But, as was the case the night before, they could not keep pace with their opponents. Flatbush Coaches Gus Kennedy and Michael Gurock made sure that everyone on the roster got quality minutes, with a focus on working to properly execute at both ends of the court, and the Falcons were successful in scoring the ball. The final score was not nearly indicative of the effort put forth by both teams, as in the end Flatbush prevailed by the score of 52-12, but both teams gained much needed game experience for all of their players. Kal Abed led all Flatbush scorers and Reuben Stein was the top scorer for Cooper.
As is the routine on Hausdorff Friday, the day’s games were separated by a nice break. That time was taken up by two significant activities; a shiur in which the players all spent time learning together and lunch on Avenue J (see if you can guess which was met with slightly more anticipation?!). After a more intimate welcoming of the participants by Rabbi Besser, with a focus on embracing everything that is part of the full Flatbush community Shabbat experience, the players all learned a little Torah with Flatbush High School Principal Rabbi Joseph Beyda. Rabbi Beyda also welcomed all the Hausdorff participants from far and wide, noting with appreciation how the hosts really enjoy having them because we generally eat better and get great swag (thank you, Hausdorff Tournament Committee!), but more significantly “it is more than just basketball; it is about the fun of the event and the opportunity to get to meet other Jewish guys with similar interests, sharing our similarities as well as those things that make each of us unique.” He then went on to share some insights on the week’s parasha -Va’yishlach. He pointed out that in the parasha, Ya’akov is in a highly emotional state. Primarily, he is scared of his brother Esav, and what he might do after all that Ya’akov had taken from him. Ya’akov is nervous, and so he prays, he doesn’t sleep well, he wrestles with angels; he does all this out of fear. Yet, what happens when he finally comes face to face with his brother? Much to his surprise, he finds he is embraced by Esav. The message here is about fear. “We build things up about what is ahead, we worry so much, about grades, about getting into college, about relationships with our classmates and friends,” Rabbi Beyda pointed out. “We have much stress in our lives, but the lesson here is that if we put our best foot forward, embrace what comes, we often find out we need not be so stressed.” He tied this back to the theme of athletic competition, noting “we worry about what will happen on the court, but all you need to do is look at the sports pages; underdogs do win, sometimes the difficult shots do fall in.” He concluded by reminding the boys, “if you are prepared and Hashem is with you, things work out in the end.” Chazak U’baruch, Rabbi Beyda!
After lunch, the games returned to the forefront, with a match up between Detroit area’s Farber Fire and suburban Philadelphia’s Kohelet Kings. It was a defensive battle early on, highlighted by a three ball from each team for the first scores. By halftime, the team were entrenched in a low scoring affair, with Kohelet holding on to a slim 17-15 advantage. That all changed in the pivotal third quarter. Amidst numerous turnovers and clock stoppages, the Fire took control of the game, turning a two point deficit into an 11-point advantage! The teams played a fairly even final period, but that was not of much help to the Philadelphians who could not close the gap. Farber took the 4th game of the tournament by a final score of 49-37. For the second game in a row, Jeremiah Wolfe was Farber’s top offensive performer in the game.
It was now time to prepare for the “meat and potatoes” (and chicken, and cholent, and mazza, etc.) of the weekend – Hausdorff Shabbat, and all that goes with it. Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat Dinner and the main event – Oneg Shabbat at the Sasson Family home (whose son, Ricky, is a Sophomore member of the host Falcon JV squad), with z’mirot and cookies and divrei torah and, of course, more mazza!
Shabbat Shalom to all!