The boys and girls varsity basketball teams of two Main Line day schools took their annual face-off to new heights on Monday, playing on professional courts at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
The Modern Orthodox Kohelet Yeshiva and the pluralistic Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy both bused their entire student bodies and invited family and friends to watch the teams compete on the Philadelphia 76ers home floor just before the pro team's game against Milwaukee later that evening. The crowd of almost 1,000 onlookers cheered, stomped, sang and applauded for three hours straight as Barrack's teams eventually prevailed.
The games were originally supposed to be part of the 76ers' Jewish Heritage Night. But that event was moved to mid-March, when the high school basketball season would already be over.
In the first match, Barrack's Lady Cougars took a sizeable lead into halftime. Kohelet surprised Barrack in the third quarter and got within a few points of tying the score before the Cougars made some late key plays to win 36-21. Sophia Shoulson led Barrack, as she has done all season long, with 14 points.
In the boys game, it was Kohelet that controlled the first half. At one stage during the third quarter, the Kings enjoyed a seemingly comfortable 13 point lead. However, Kohelet's dominance faded over the final 12 minutes as Barrack made a furious comeback. With the crowd worked into a frenzy, Barrack ran away with the game, 50-43. Cory Barnet was Barrack's top scorer with 20 points.
"It was a fantastic experience for our entire school community," said Justin Cooper, Barrack's athIetic director. "The school spirit shown by both institutions was exceptional. When there is healthy competition, it can bring out the best in our students."
“We were grateful for the incredible opportunity to play against Barrack in an event that truly celebrated both schools' athletic programs", said Rabbi Joshua Friedman, Kohelet's Athletic Director and Head Coach of their Boys team. "It was fun to see the friendly rivalry play out on the biggest stage in Philly. What a great way to end the season, and we're hoping for a repeat game there next year!"
The Feb. 24 games closed the season for both schools, even though Barrack had already competed in its league championship more than a week earlier.
Both the boys and girls teams from Barrack competed against Perkiomen for the Tri-County League Championship on Feb. 13. But Perkiomen proved to be stronger in both games. The Barrack girls lost by a score of 47-27; the boys 57-38. Overall, however, the Cougars ended the season with impressive records. Including the wins over Kohelet, the Barrack girls had 19 wins and only 3 losses; the boys had a respectable 10 wins and 7 losses.
Click on the multimedia icon to the right for a slideshow from the games.