Every winter, one of the most anticipated high school sporting events in Greater Washington area Jewish community is the varsity basketball game between Berman Hebrew Academy and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS). Hundreds of people come out on a Saturday night to watch the Berman Cougars host the CESJDS Lions. The energy is intense, and emotions run high.
“The atmosphere at the JDS versus Hebrew Academy basketball games is awesome,” said Lions head coach David McCloud. “It is everything you want in a high school rivalry. My players look forward to it every year. We even practice harder to prepare for this game and prepare for the crazy atmosphere.”
For the past several years, the Lions’ boys squad dominated the rivalry, winning every matchup since 2012. The girls, on the other hand, have been a little more evenly matched, with the two teams splitting the regular season series last year before the Berman girls defeated CESJDS 39-31 in the playoffs. This year, however, both Berman teams hoped for a win in honor of Dr. Joshua Levisohn’s final year as headmaster. On Jan. 6, they made every effort to do just that.
First the girls’ teams squared off in an exciting matchup. Led by junior Mia Raskin and senior Jennie Mellman, Berman took a six-point lead into the final two minutes. Spearheaded by a great effort from CESJDS senior Brooke Cohen, the Lions stormed back and sent the game into overtime.
In an exhilarating extra period, the two teams battled back and forth before CESJDS moved ahead by two with eight seconds left. The Cougars had a chance to send it into a second overtime but missed a last-second shot; the Lions survived to win the game 62-60 and get revenge for last year’s playoff loss.
CESJDS junior Rayna Armon said that during the game she felt “hyped because all my friends come to watch and are super spirited.” She loves the community aspect of the basketball team. “We are super close, and playing with them really allows us to bond even more,” she said.
Next up came the Berman boys, looking to end their six-year drought. Led by senior Josh Levieddin, who finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, the Cougars stormed out to a 22-11 lead at the half and never looked back. Junior guard Raanan Glashofer’s seven second-half points and a strong defensive effort by the Cougars proved too much for the Lions. Despite valiant efforts from juniors Dani Offer (15 points) and Zev Katz (12 points), the Lions fell 48-36.
“The best thing for me is knowing what that win means for our school and all the Berman kids who aspire to play in the JDS game one day,” said Berman senior Tani Levisohn.
The next chapter of this rivalry will unfold when the two teams face off again later this month on the Lions’ home court.
By Roey Herzfeld and Ezra Troy
Roey Herzfeld and Ezra Troy are juniors at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland. Roey plays on the Berman varsity baseball team and enjoys writing about sports. Ezra enjoys Model UN and serving on student council, as well as photography and writing, and is an avid sports fan.