AJA Competes in David Tanzman Memorial Tournament
On Thursday, March 3, the AJA boys varsity basketball team traveled to Detroit, Michigan, for the David Tanzman Memorial Tournament. In their first time attending this tournament, AJA made a great first impression by taking home the second-place trophy.
After arriving in Detroit, the team walked around a mall to pass the time before their first game. That night, to start off their tournament, the Jaguars were scheduled to play against the school Mizrachi — “the biggest competition,” according to sophomore player Sam Kutner. Senior Josh Asherian explained, “We didn’t know what to expect, but we went out there and played our best.” Ultimately, Josh said, “we came up a little short,” and Mizrachi took the first victory. While the loss was a “rough way” to start the tournament, Josh noted, the team stayed optimistic and did not dwell on the result.
After finishing their first game, the team watched other schools compete. In between games, they participated in the tournament’s shooting competitions, suh as a three-point contest. To conclude the night, they went back to their hosts’ houses to eat and hang out together.
The next morning, after davening Shacharit, the Jaguars faced off against the team from Denver Academy of Torah. Josh recounted that the Jags “came out strong” and won by “around 50 points.” In senior player Yered Wittenberg’s words, “We whooped them.” Starting off the day with their first victory and a record of 1-1, the team went to go eat breakfast and then watch more teams compete.
That afternoon, the team went downtown to go ice skating before getting ready for Shabbat. In the evening, all the teams gathered for Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, and Maariv. Then, the teams all transitioned to dinner.
The tournament enforced a rule that someone can only sit with two members of their team at Friday night dinner — the rest of the table must be people from other schools. Sophomore Ezra Feen found that this rule was “great” because it led them to “hang out all [of] Friday night” with other teams. He noted that people from different teams even sat together at lunch the next day, even though it was no longer required. “All the teams were super kind; everyone was so welcoming,” Josh said, “It was really easy to make friends and get to know everyone.”
When the team went back to their hosts’ houses Friday night, Yered said that around 20 to 30 guys went to keep socializing at the house of his host, Jonny Kornblum. “Dude’s the nicest guy, so he’s always hosting people,” Yered said. They spent a while “chilling, eating snacks,” until eventually calling it a night to get some rest.
Shabbat day predominantly involved davening and eating, with menucha breaking up the day in the middle. After concluding Shabbat with Havdalah, the focus of the tournament returned back to basketball. AJA played against the home team, Farber Hebrew Day School. Many students from their school came to watch, so, in front of a big crowd, AJA claimed their second victory and their spot in the championship game.
Sunday morning, AJA faced off against Mizrachi for the second time. Sam explained, “In the championship, we were winning for a long time and it was going great.” However, he continued, “towards the end many things stopped going our way, and we came up a little bit short.” Mizrachi beat AJA once again, and took the championship title. To end the tournament, all the teams gathered for a trophy ceremony.
Reflecting on the tournament, Josh said, “It was the first year we went to the tournament, so it was a new experience, but I think everyone loved it.” In addition to coming home from the tournament with lots of great memories and new friends, the team returned proudly with a second-place trophy.