Matzo ballers take the lead in March Madness mania

The “matzah ball”

By Dani Gottlieb, Freshman, Parkway Central

Editor’s note: This month’s teen page stories are intended solely as parody in the spirit of a Purim spiel and should not be taken as fact.

Who would have thought that the youngest college basketball team, just created at the beginning of 5776, would be able to accomplish what Chai University’s Matzo-Ballers have done? Game after game, the Matzo-Ballers, a St. Louis-based basketball team, has been victorious in March Madness. Last Tuesday, the local team defeated the Emanuel University Jewbaccas, sending the Matzo-Ballers to Las Vegas to compete against the Shaballers for the coveted Kiddush Cup.

The journey for the Matzo-Ballers has not been an easy one.  At the beginning of their season, Ballers members got along as well as cats and dogs. 

“I remember our first practice as a team,” coach Eliezer Greenberg said. “We couldn’t even get a single play done correctly. The team just couldn’t find the rhythm that they needed in order to be successful. I knew that if there was going to be any chance for the team to go somewhere this season, we all needed to go on a retreat.”

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A few weeks later, the Matzo-Ballers boarded a plane at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and headed off to Israel, where they would begin their bonding experience. Getting onto the plane, the team did not know that the next week would change their lives completely. 

“As soon as we got off the plane, coach Greenberg sent us to the bathrooms at the airport to change into our swimsuits,” power forward Ed Kovitz said. “We were all confused. I thought that we were here for a basketball retreat, not swimming. Before I knew it, I was on a hike to the Dead Sea to go deep sea diving.”

In the following six days, the Ballers went head-to-head on team-building activities. And all at once, the team knew that it finally clicked.

“The 

Thursday

that we were in Israel was an incredibly hot day and, of course, that was the day we were doing community service outside,” small forward Lorenzo Gurivitz said.  “Around noon, the Western Wall was about half-way painted. We were dripping in sweat and just exhausted. I remember about half of the team was laying on the ground, trying to find shade to cool off in.  We all exchanged a few glances, we just wanted to give up.  

“But then, (Matzo Baller point guard Abraham) Bloomrosen stood up, grabbed a brush and started painting once again.  And one by one, the rest of the boys got up and started to paint. We knew then that we were all in this together.”

But before they knew it, the team was boarding the plane back to St. Louis.  After a week of cooking kosher meals, creating sand castles in the Negev and rewriting “Hatikvah,” it was time to compete.

“If it weren’t for our trip to Israel, the team would have simply fallen apart,” Bloomrosen said. “That was the week where everybody on the team found their proper spot.  Now, we work just as a puzzle. If one person is in the wrong position, we would be incomplete.”

After the trip, the team returned to Chai University for their opening game against College Emanuel’s Challah Back Boys, in which the Ballers dominated 200-9.

“After seeing the way that we performed during our first game, we all knew that we had some magic within us,” Matzo Baller center Benjamin Schwartz said. “No one doubted that we were going to go far this season, we knew that we were going to be one of the teams on top.”  

Later that week, they played against the Rabbinical University  Orange Jews and won, 123-78.  Game after game, the Matzo-Ballers came out on top, becoming one out of the two undefeated basketball teams in the JCAA (Jewish Collegiate Athletic Association).

Their winning streak has put them in the Kiddush Cup championship this Wednesday in Las Vegas against the Shaballers. Tune in at 7 p.m. Mountain Time on the Jewish Sports Network to find out which team will be the 5776 Jewish collegiate basketball champion.