By Alex Pacinda
For the Mitzpeh
Saturday’s individual events for the National Hillel Basketball Tournament began with a three-point shootout at the Reckord Armory. Competitors from all over the country were assigned to various courts for the two rounds of shootouts.
After a brief warm-up, competitors had ten three-point shots during the first round of play – then the two with the most out of the ten attempts advanced to the final round. For the final round at Ritchie Coliseum, the best shooters had three shots from each position on the court, meaning 15 shots to determine the winner.
Fans gathered around the sides of the Armory courts, cheering for friends as they made their three-point attempts. Simone Amar said traveling from New York City for the weekend’s events was an exciting reunion for her and her friends.
“I transferred from Maryland last year so I have always loved it here, but coming back for this is the best,” Amar said. “This year my boyfriend Daniel is playing, so it’s the best to be able to watch with my Maryland friends.”
Hannah Shams, Public Relations writer for the tournament, said that the stress of planning such a large-scale event has paid off.
“It’s definitely a different experience watching everything come together, especially with my first year of planning it,” Shams said. “It’s really nice to see everyone here enjoying themselves and I’m happy with how successful it’s been.”
Hannah Kark, who works on events and attractions for NHBT, quieted the packed house at Ritchie before the final round of the shootout – crowd members would cheer with every shot made, and observers could hear an audible “aw” with every missed three-pointer. After a tiebreaker, the winner for the men’s tournament was Jack Gindi from the University of Pennsylvania. Ariel Stein of Indiana University won for the women’s competition.
The dunk competition started shortly after the shootout finals at Ritchie. Only a few competitors were up to the challenge as the bleachers full of fans started cheers for their favored dunk champions. A panel of three judges – Joseph Tuchman, chairman of the 2016 NHBT, Alyssa Silva, program and operations associate for Maryland Hillel, and former basketball star Archie Talley were chosen to pick the best dunker, scoring each competitor on their attempts.
Most had trouble making their dunks as fans yelled after every missed shot, but for the few who had successful attempts, Ritchie would erupt in screaming and applause.
Ariella Golish, a freshman communications major at this university, was attending her first tournament.
“It’s pretty crazy being here and watching all the excitement,” Golish said. “I don’t know much about basketball but it’s pretty funny watching the guys attempt to dunk.”
By the end, standout Sam Gordon from Johns Hopkins took home the title after a string of perfect dunks with which the crowd was quite impressed.
“I can’t believe he can do that,” Golish said. “Honestly I’m just surprised that they can make the shots with everyone watching them up there.”