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Senior Night Controversy Stirs Up a Storm

By: Bailey Spitz (10th Grade) and Alexa Szafranski (11th Grade)

For the second time this month, the heated rivalry between Hebrew Academy and Katz Yeshiva High School (KYHS) erupted in chaos at Senior Night last week when sophomores stormed the court after the Varsity boys team loss.

The stands were packed for Senior Night with a majority of the student body, as well as teachers and parents. In addition, a large number of KYHS fans packed into the gym. The rivalry between the two schools as well as the large crowd resulted in loud cheering and jeering from both sides. But it wasn’t until the end of the game when the Warriors lost by 14 points that the scenario turned sour. A group of students rushed onto the court and began shouting at one of the KYHS players. A teacher came to pull back students and the situation was diffused. 

Students at the game said the rivalry between the teams could be felt even before the jeering began in the stands.

“I don't know if the tension was because this game was against YHS specifically, but I know that at this game there was a lot of tension between both teams,” said Naomi Ohana (10th Grade).

The administration was extremely disturbed by the behavior of the students who stormed the court. The students, all tenth grade boys, are now banned from the gym indefinitely. They also did not receive any extra credit points or homework passes for attending the game. 

“The boys were pulled in and spoken to by me, Rabbi Gutenberg, Coach Bishop, Mr. Matla, and Rabbi Manne,” said Principal of General Studies Dr. Lieber. “What was said was that they should have taken the high road...The intention of the punishment was for the boys to learn that they need to act properly at games, and from what I was told about their reactions at the Saturday night boys game [at the JCC] they have already begun to do that.”

Some students involved in the incident reflected on their actions.

“We stormed the court and started taunting a YHS player and got in trouble,” said Herschel Karp (10th). “When we were spoken to by teachers we were told that the worst possible thing we could have done was to get aggravated by taunting from the other team’s players which is their intention. Especially on Senior Night which makes it one of the last things the seniors will remember.” 

Spectators at the game expressed frustration over not only the end result but the actions of onlookers in the stands leading up to the incident, with the cheering at times turning mean-spirited.

“It was back and forth action like there was going to be some sort of fighting breaking loose soon,” said Oren Abramov (11th).

Many students simply thought that the cheering was just part of the game, and meant no real harm to either school.

“In my opinion the cheering showed our support for our team, and it was not explicitly meant to taunt the other team,” said Hannah Folk (9th).

Some of the players admitted that the screams and cheers were not conducive to either team, and in fact distracted them. 

“I think it was unnecessary, and if anything it negatively impacted the game,” said Varsity Player Mark Levy (11th). “Especially for some of the seniors who had emotions running so high because it was senior night, it really was not helpful.”

Just three weeks prior, two parents in the stands at the KHYS vs. Hebrew Academy away game came close to a fist fight when they started a heated argument about the game. The tension from that game carried over to last week’s Senior Night game.

“The support is obviously so appreciated, but you have to know when to draw the line,” said Athletics Director Chad Bishop.  

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