More than 150 players and at least as many guests, sponsors, volunteers, and other spectators showed up for the first-ever Shoot4Shalom Basketball Tournament, staged by Shalom Torah Academy, which has schools in Morganville and East Windsor.
The event, held Feb. 8 at the Monroe Sports Center, raised approximately $150,000 for the school, said chief organizer Rabbi Yisroel Merkin, director of community relations at East Windsor STA, which sponsored the tourney.
Three-player teams competed in four divisions, representing both corporate sponsors and individuals.
STA Morganville participated by fielding a team of students’ parents and by soliciting organizations to serve as team sponsors.
“This was a great success and will now become an annual event,” said Merkin. “I can’t wait until next year.”
While the competition was the main attraction, celebrity flare was added by Bill Cartwright, an NBA veteran who played for the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls, who kicked off Tournament Day with an hour-long clinic. As the Bulls’ starting center, he helped Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and coach Phil Jackson win three consecutive championships.
The corporate division included 16 teams representing regional businesses, each of which pledged a minimum of $2,500. One team, Rieder Communities, topped the $13,000 mark. There were also 17 standard teams, almost all of which pledged well over $1,000.
“The event grew so big we had to change the site of our awards banquet, which followed the games. Initially, we planned to have it at the school, but we moved it to a much larger room at the sports complex,” said Merkin.
The winning team, representing Manhattan-based fund manager Talpion, consisted of Zack Cooper, Seth Steinmetz, and Mike Swieca.
Merkin, a Washington Wizards fan, suggested that the children of STA were the day’s big winners. “With the recognition that young children are the future of klal Yisrael, Shalom provides a comprehensive dual-curriculum education beginning with children as young as age two,” he said.
“In communities all across central New Jersey, Shalom graduates and their parents maintain an ongoing, lifelong bond with Shalom, its faculty, and affiliate network,” he added. “Many credit this school with providing the foundation for their professional and personal success.”