By Nina Glesby and Shira Shans
For the first time since 2009, the Heschel Heat Boys Basketball Team played in the largest Yeshiva basketball tournament in the country – the Cooper Yeshiva High School National Invitational Basketball Tournament. The tournament, hosted by the Cooper Yeshiva High School, brought fifteen other teams from thirteen different states to Memphis, Tennessee.
“All the best teams want to go to this tournament… Schools came from everywhere to be there,” said Larry Rispoli, Director of Athletics and Head of Physical Education, highlighting the honor of being invited to the Cooper Invitational. “This year no one expected it,” he continued,” but the kids rose to the occasion. They believed, they got into the program, they committed. They came together as a team and they did it.”
Senior Jeremy Spiera said that all of the games were pretty close, pointing out the game against Yeshiva Waterbury Connecticut in which the Heschel Heat won with a three pointer on the buzzer.
In addition to being a tournament, the trip was also a shabbaton. The students had Shabbat dinner at a host family’s home and prayed with students from other Jewish schools participating in the tournament. It was a very meaningful Shabbat for the students.
The members of the basketball team were accompanied by college advisor David Steinberg, Assistant Coach Eric Harris, and Head Coach Evan Pickman. When asked about Coach Pickman, Spiera commented, “He’s very energetic which inspires us to play harder. He doesn’t ever settle for good enough.”
That mindset, according to Spiera, was what led the team from the ninth seed to victory.