Orthodox Jewish school wins reset playoff game

March 2, 2012 8:39:55 PM PST
The boys basketball team from an Orthodox Jewish school in Texas won a playoff game that was rescheduled under threat of a lawsuit to Friday afternoon so it wouldn't conflict with the Sabbath.

Beren Academy beat Dallas Covenant 58-46, a little more than 24 hours after finding out they would play. A crowd of about 100 relatives and friends of the Houston team, who scrambled to make travel arrangements Thursday afternoon, stood and cheered in the final seconds.

"It's great -- absolutely hard to describe," team co-captain Isaac Buchine said after the game. "To find out (before the rescheduling) that other people would be playing in our spot didn't sit well ... but we focused on the basketball aspect of it."

The game was originally set for Friday night after the sunset that opens the Sabbath. Beren students say their faith prohibits participation between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or TAPPS, had initially rejected Beren Academy's requests to reschedule the game. The league relented after several parents filed a federal lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order requiring TAPPS to move the game time.

Buchine said word quickly spread among the players at school on Thursday as they shouted, gave each other high-fives and started sending text messages to their teammates and other friends. Then the players had to go home and pack for the unexpected 250-mile van ride to Fort Worth.

The school will play in the championship game on Saturday night. The team will have about an hour to get ready and warm up beforehand.

"We're ready," Buchine said. "When you've been through adversity, it pays off."

Mark Mirwis, who was among a handful of parents who filed the suit, said it was unpopular but that he discussed it with his son, the team's co-captain and point guard Isaac Mirwis, before making the decision.

"It wasn't about the game per se ... but asking, `What does God want us to do?"' Mark Mirwis said.

Rick Guttman, Beren's school board vice president, said the league's other teams were accommodating throughout the season in rescheduling Saturday games at Beren's request. Only when Beren reached the semifinals and league officials got involved did a problem arise, but he hopes that won't happen in the future, he said.

"I think the teams want to compete at the highest level," said Guttman, whose son plays on the team.

Dallas Covenant's coach, Chris Shelton, said that his school had no problem with the game being rescheduled and that his team was "happy to be playing today, to still be playing in March."