The 14-and-under boys’ basketball team captured a gold medal to highlight a strong overall performance by teams and individuals from Greater Cleveland at the JCC Maccabi Games July 25-28 in Columbus.
In boys’ age 15-16 swimming, Kyle Silver, 15, of Painesville won 18 gold medals and one silver medal in 19 events, and Ben Pearlstein, 15, of Chagrin Falls won three gold medals, eight silver medals and one bronze medal in 12 events.
Adam Marcus, 16, of Pepper Pike earned three gold medals in boys’ golf.
In the championship game of 14-and-under boys’ basketball July 28, Cleveland defeated a team from California’s Bay Area – including San Jose, Palo Alto and the San Francisco Peninsula – 62-57. The Bay Area team had beaten Cleveland, 68-51, July 26.
“The kids really bonded and played as a team,” Cleveland head coach Brad Herzog said. “They understood the idea of passing the ball and working together to be successful.
“The first time we played (the Bay Area team), we did not play that way. But the second time, we came out and played our game.”
Entering the final four-game round robin, Cleveland was the No. 3 seed and the Bay Area team was seeded No. 1.
“(The Bay Area team) had jerseys that were made in June and said ‘Larry O’Brien Trophy’ on them (in anticipation of the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship),” Herzog said. “We pulled an upset and beat them.”
Harrison Pyner of Orange led Cleveland with a game-high 44 points and was the leading scorer of the tournament. Jordan Levin of Beachwood sank two free throws with five seconds left to seal the victory.
Dov Ratner of Shaker Heights received the Midot Medal, awarded to a player who represents Jewish values on and off the court.
Other team members were Drew Dubin, Aidan Gross, David Israelstram, Spencer Kornspan, Tyler Moses, Zeke Ratner and Spencer Sharp.
Cleveland, which finished with a 6-1 record, had advanced to the gold-medal game with a 62-47 victory over San Francisco. Its other wins came over Israel, 85-43; Louisville, Ky., 88-42; and two over a mixed team from Columbus and Cincinnati, 61-37 and 62-56.
Silver, who will be a sophomore this fall at Riverside High School in Painesville, won gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 500 freestyle, 200 backstroke and 200 medley relay July 26; in the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 400 individual medley, 50 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay July 27; and in the 50 backstroke, 200 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, 100 freestyle, 400 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay July 28. His lone silver medal came in the 50 breaststroke July 27.
“I wasn’t expecting to win that many events,” Silver said. “I was pretty happy.”
Silver, who has been swimming competitively since age 5, said “eating well, sleeping well and training hard” were the keys to his success. He is the son of Noriko and Randy Silver.
Pearlstein, who will be a sophomore at Kenston High School in Bainbridge Township, was also a member of the winning 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay. He earned silver medals in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 50 butterfly, 100 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle relay and a bronze medal in the 50 breaststroke.
“I was pleased to medal in every event I swam,” said Pearlstein, the son of Lori Shafer and Dr. Richard Pearlstein and a member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike.
Marcus, who will be a junior at Orange High School in Pepper Pike, placed first out of 13 golfers July 25 and July 26, as he shot a 76 and a 74, respectively. On July 28, he teamed with Alexandra Waxman of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to win a scramble with a score of 73.
“It was a pretty cool experience,” he said. “My ball striking was really good that day; I hit a lot of fairways and greens.”
Marcus, who has been playing golf since age 6, is the son of Shelley and Greg Marcus. He is a member of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood.
A mixed 16-and-under baseball team, composed of players from Cleveland, Tucson, Ariz., San Francisco, San Jose and Louisville, Ky., took home a silver medal. In the finals July 28, the team coached by Dan Solomon gained an 11-6 victory over a mixed team from Columbus, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Winnipeg and Las Vegas, and then lost to Atlanta, 4-1.
Cleveland’s 14-and-under boys’ soccer team, coached by Dominic Ianiro, earned a bronze medal, as it edged a team from Mexico and Windsor, 3-2, for third place July 28.
Max Feinlieb, 14, of Shaker Heights won a silver medal in recreation-level boys’ age 13-14 tennis.
Jack Spiegle, 13, of Orange also took a silver medal in recreation-level boys’ age 13-14 boys’ table tennis.
More than 750 competitors ages 13-16 took part in the games, hosted by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. A contingent of 48 athletes represented the Mandel JCC in Beachwood.
“I’m so proud of Team Cleveland and all of the athletes’ accomplishments,” said Bria Heifetz, head delegate for Greater Cleveland and assistant director of children, youth and teen programs at the Mandel JCC. “The experience will be with them for their entire lives.”