The Memphis Maccabi Games ended last night, and the Birmingham and New Orleans teams are bringing home some hardware, and some medals are also going to Jackson.
Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center received its first-ever team gold medal yesterday, in boys’ 16-under basketball. The squad was seeded 12th after the preliminary competition, fourth out of six teams in the “Blue” bracket.
Birmingham defeated Peninsula, 63-38, in the first game on Wednesday. That afternoon, Birmingham took down Memphis1, 61-38. In the gold medal game yesterday, Birmingham defeated Cleveland, 53-41. Memphis1 won the bronze medal game, over Memphis2.
In the White division for seeds 1 to 8, 7-seed Mid-Westchester edged top seed East Hills/Sid Jacobson for the gold, 48-47.
In the preliminary games, Birmingham went 1-3, losing to Kansas City, 44-42; beating Louisvile, 71-33; then losing to Ft. Lauderdale, 70-55 and Mid-Westchester, 47-38.
The boys’ team consists of Jordan Rich, Spencer Einhorn, Matthew Weisman, Alec Lewis, JJ Kaplan, Clark Thompson, and Eric Weintraub.
The New Orleans 14U boys baseball participants were in two teams — paired with Atlanta and St. Louis. The Atlanta/Nola team took a silver medal, losing the title game to Ft. Lauderdale, 10-0. The St. Louis/Nola team lost in the bronze medal game to Memphis, 6-0.
In the semifinal, third seed Atlanta/Nola beat St. Louis/Nola, 14-7.
During the first two days, both teams went 2-2. Atlanta/Nola lost to Ft. Lauderdale, 8-4, beat Memphis 8-4 and beat Chicago 9-0. St. Louis/Nola lost to Chicago, 9-5, beat Memphis, 5-4, and lost to Ft. Lauderdale, 10-3. The final preliminary for the teams was against each other, and St. Louis/Nola beat Atlanta/Nola, 11-10.
In girls 16U basketball, Sarah Averbuch of Huntsville competed as Birmingham’s entrant on the St. Louis/Birmingham team. They placed fourth, losing to Israel in the bronze medal game, 47-31. Seeded third, they beat Philadelphia, 54-25, in the first round, before losing to eventual champion Boca Raton, 64-45.
They went 3-1 in the preliminaries, opening with a loss to Boca, 63-24, then beating Los Angeles-Milken, 52-30; Memphis1, 56-27; and Memphis2, 34-11.
The New Orleans 14U flag football team, paired with Memphis2, went 1-3 in preliminary play but wound up with a bronze medal in the four-team tournament, defeating Memphis1, 27-24. In the first rounds, they beat Memphis1, 31-14; then lost to St. Louis/Atlanta, 41-8 and 38-14; and to Miami, 45-6.
The New Orleans/Phoenix/Chicago 16U boys soccer team lost the bronze medal game to Greater Washington/Ann Arbor, 8-4. They had lost to champion Philadelphia, 6-1, after defeating Dallas, 2-0.
Seeded 6th, the team was 2-2 in the first rounds, beating Edmonton, 5-2; and Memphis, 4-3; but losing to Dallas, 5-4; and LA-Milken, 5-0.
A joint St. Louis/Atlanta/Birmingham 14U boys soccer team lost its first tournament game, 5-1 to eventual bronze medalist Memphis. The team, which included Gabe Ivker, was seeded last after going winless in the preliminaries, losing to LA-Milken, 7-0; Boca 7-1 and Mexico 6-4, and tying Memphis, 4-4. They did win the gold in the consolation kickball tournament.
The New Orleans/Greater Washington team lost to Peninsula, 5-0, in the 16U girls soccer tournament, but in a consolation kickball tournament, they won the gold medal. Seeded sixth, the team beat Memphis2, 9-0, but lost to Ft. Lauderdale1, 8-0, and Ft. Lauderdale2/Orlando, 3-2.
Birmingham’s Seth Cohen won gold in table tennis, going 10-0 in the preliminaries; and bronze in doubles table tennis after going 5-1.
New Orleans’ Emma Barron was on the bronze-winning Mixed 15-16 400-Yard free relay team with swimmers from Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale, and competed in the 50-yard freestyle, U14 girls.
Jackson’s Benjamin Hearon competed for Memphis’ team in track and field, and brings home a slew of medals. He won gold in the boys 13-14 3000-meter run with a time of 11:41.48, gold in the boys mixed sprint medley relay, gold in the coed mixed 4x100 relay, silver in the 100-meter dash at 13.93, silver in the mixed 15-16 4x400 relay, silver in the long jump with 4.67 meters, silver in the 200-meter finals at 28.81 and silver in the coed mixed 4x800 relay.
In the second-sport 5x100 relay and 4x400 relay, Raphi Walker of New Orleans was part of the gold medal teams.
In girls’ 16U tennis, Stephanie Saag of Birmingham lost her first round match to eventual bronze medalist Alison Clarke. Saag and Owen Averbuch of Huntsville competed for Birmingham in doubles tennis. Birmingham’s Grant Ginsburg placed 4th in tennis after starting 2-0.
The Birmingham team consisted of delegation head Dan Tourtellotte, coaches Abraham Amoyal and Richard Einhorn, and athletes Seth Cohen, Spencer Einhorn, Grant Ginsburg, Gabe Ivker, Jarrett Kaplan, Alec Lewis, Jordan Rich, Stephanie Saag, Clark Thompson, Eric Weintraub and Matthew Weissman, with Huntsville participants Owen Averbuch and Sarah Averbuch.
The New Orleans delegation was headed by Brian Soileau. Coaches were Rachel Hiller and Joshua Tolbert. Athletes were Alex Abramson, Emma Barron, Carin Entrekin, Mark Fertel, Sam Laufer, Max Michaels, Ezra Remer, Megan Rittenberg, Frances Sperling, Sydney Steiner and Raphael Walker, with Lafayette participant Matthew Bouchner, who was on the Atlanta/New Orleans baseball team.
Competing in the Houston Maccabi Games was Sarah Katz of Lake Charles, La. Competing in the girls 16U softball tournament with the Houston team, she was guaranteed a medal as there were only three teams competing.
The week got underway on Aug. 5 at the FedEx Forum with an Olympic-style march of each delegation. About 1100 competitors from 30 delegations took part in the week-long event.
As part of the ceremony, organizers of the very first JCCA Maccabi Games were recognized. The first competition took place in Memphis in 1982, with about 300 athletes. The games returned to Memphis in 2002 for a 20th anniversary, and this year for the 30th. In all, about 3500 teens participate in three venues — this year’s games were also held in Houston this past week, and in Rockland, N.Y. this coming week.
Among the speakers was Josh Pastner, head coach of the University of Memphis basketball team, who said he had a couple of needs for this season. In a bid for solidarity with a team that has a Jewish head coach, he got the delegates to shout “Go Tigers!”
Uri Sheffer, head of Israel Sports and one of the 1982 Maccabi organizers, spoke after coming directly from the London Olympics, where he admitted that the Israeli squad wasn’t doing as well as hoped.
David Wottle, who won the 800-meter run at the 1972 Munich Olympics in a stunning finish against a Soviet sprinter, spoke of his experiences at the Games. He also introduced Oshrat Romano Kandell, daughter of Yosef Romano, one of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Games. Kandell said she was six years old when that happened, and spoke of the efforts to get the International Olympic Committee to recognize the attack.
She and her family lit the torch starting the Games. Members of fellow slain Olympian David Berger’s family were also in attendance. Berger was a graduate of Tulane University.
More photos here.