By Rick Kushner
Where else can a 16-year-old player Tomahawk dunk a rebound over a 50-year-old veteran? Only in the Fire Island Basketball Tournament!
I founded the basketball tournaments in 1989 with four teams, now we have 76 players (ages 15-62) on nine teams. I remain commissioner, with eight assistant commissioners to help with all the work that needs to be done: Michael Bobson, Matt Covrigaru, Dina Mandelbaum, Barry Broner, Mike Barbarino, Jordan Levine, Chris Brahe and Paul Schnell.
The three-weekend tournament started on Aug. 16; each team played eight games during the first two weekends. The top six will go on to the playoffs on Labor Day, beginning on Friday at 4 p.m. for the quarter finals; Saturday 10 a.m. for the semi finals; and Sunday 4 p.m. for the finals. The final draws a very large crowd and is the event of the summer for many of us. All games are held at the Woodhull School, and we suggest you arrive early.
The top two teams this year were Gold and Green. Gold is led by Ethan Lubowitz, a 6-foot, 4-inch power forward, along with his dad, Mike (we have had 23 fathers and sons play together over the years). Their record is 7-1, which puts them in first place.
We take pride in the fact that our tournament is inclusive – any Fire Islander that wishes to play can sign up and play. We have pick-up games all summer behind the school on weekends, to judge the talent for the upcoming draft. Referees are hired from the Babylon Recreation System, headed by John Dooley, who sends us local high school and college caliber referees for each game. We also have a Hall of Fame with selected players from years past who have been recognized for their outstanding play.
Our tournament is extremely competitive – it has been described as “a rec league on steroids.” It is also a tournament of friends and respect. Players that were not friends before, soon become friends. We have a mentorship program headed by Sheri Lapidus and Randy Silver, listing all the players’ professions so that a young person seeking to go into a business or any specific job can find someone in that field to network with.
We are a community tournament. We want everyone to play and would never turn away anyone, but we do not accept ringers from off the island. So if you like basketball, drop by behind the school to see a playoff game. You might enjoy it.
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