By Rafi Josselson ’25
What happens when lions and bees play basketball? On Monday Night, TLS’s Lions and Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School (SAR)’s Stings will face off in a highly anticipated and contentious game between both school’s boys varsity basketball teams.
Junior and Team Captain Russman Wechsler is one of those excited. Since this is one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, he can’t wait for the competition. He specifically recalled last year’s defeat in his feelings.
“I think we have something to prove against SAR because they killed us last year,” Wechsler said. “And we are a team that plays in the public school [league] and they play in the Yeshiva League or [against] other Jewish day schools. The public schools are supposed to be more difficult. [So we want to] kind of prove to SAR what we are. I think it’s as simple as that. We want to win.”
Senior Will Hirsch is also a captain of the team. As captain, one of his responsibilities is building a team culture and he thinks it can be a very valuable asset to the team.
“We like to go out for brunch after practice on Sunday and we’re going to plan a dinner as a team,” Hirsch said. “A lot of team bonding stuff [is important] because at the end of the day, it’s about being a community. And on the court, I’ve noticed throughout my career that you play better when you know your teammates.”
As part of the student government’s athletics committee, Hirsch tried to boost fan engagement by providing food at games, setting up a halftime show, and an activity during Yom Iyun in which students crafted signs for the game. Wechsler agrees with Hirsch and believes that fans will enjoy their time at the game.
“There will be a lot of fans and a lot of students, and it’ll be a fun environment to play in and also for the fans to be in,” Wechsler said. “I think students will definitely come to the game.”
In the end, however, no matter who wins or loses, Hirsch expects the team to still have fond memories of the game. He cites the experience of a strong community as the strength of this year’s team.
“Our team works very hard,” Hirsch said. “I think our team, this team that I’m on as a senior, is one of the best basketball teams I’ve been a part of, not necessarily skill-wise, but because of the community we are and how connected the players are to each other. Go Lions!”