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The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Season Showdown: winter sports come to a close

Abby Chesman
Members of the girls varsity basketball team cheer on their teamates during the championship game.

The 2023-24 winter sports season consisted of ten teams across middle school and high school. CESJDS athletics introduced the new girls JV basketball team, and positive team dynamics underscored the season. Although no championship titles were secured, many teams concluded their seasons with winning records. 

Girls Basketball: Following an 11-8 record, a second place ranking at the Israel Becker International Invitational Basketball Tournament (Becker Tournament) in Toronto, Canada and a strong start at the Feb. 15 championship game against Spencerville Adventist Academy Hornets, CESJDS girls varsity basketball ultimately lost 53-40. The team went into the game “facing adversity,” according to sophomore Ella Longman, with a sick player among other issues. And although the team was able to start the game with a lead, their opponents out-rebounded and out-scored them the remainder of the game. However, this loss did not define the team. Steadfast teammate connections were what truly shone through this season, Longman said.

“[After the game] we all just sat and talked for an hour, and everybody was just at peace with it,” Longman said. “And there were a lot of tears but everybody was just enjoying our last moments together. And then we all went out to dinner after this, showing how strong of a connection our team had.”

The team has a senior class of five players, including Shani Schwartz. Schwartz holds over 1,000 points (a milestone she reached last season) throughout her high school career. In the upcoming season, the team dynamic will undoubtedly shift as a result, according to Longman.

“We’re definitely gonna have big shoes to fill with Shani’s scoring, but I think it’s going to be pretty well dispersed between a bunch of players,” Longman said. “I’m excited to see how we all take on our new leadership roles on the team.”

Additionally, girls junior varsity basketball was added as a team for the first time this season. Concluding the season with a 4-5 record, the team has planted the seeds for the future of girls JV.

Boys Basketball: The boys varsity basketball fell short in the Feb. 13 semifinals against Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy. With eight players in the senior class, the departure of the Class of 2024 will make an impact on the team, sophomore Cyrus Blumenthal said. However, Blumenthal believes that a strong team dynamic will continue even after the seniors leave.

“We have great chemistry every game before the game. We’re always joking around and having fun even with our coaches,” Blumenthal said.

The team concluded the season with an 11-8 record after losing to Berman in the semifinals. After most of the regular season, they headed into the Becker Tournament. Despite going into the tournament finals with confidence, the team ultimately lost. 

“We were all very confident going into it [the tournament finals game]. But they just had our number and they outplayed us, and I think they were winning by 20 something at halftime,” Blumenthal said. “We were just exhausted, and that was just a huge letdown, but I think that’s important for every team to have adversity like that, to be able to fight through that. And I think we’ve come out stronger since then.”

Boys JV basketball concluded the season with a 12-4 record, sporting a second place ranking in the league. After a close regulation game with a buzzer-beating, game-tying three by sophomore Caden Mont, the Lions were unable to finish in overtime. However, having lost merely one in-conference game the entire season, the team maintained a winning record throughout the winter. 

Dance Team: The varsity dance team performed twice this season, showcasing their student-choreographed dances at Kab Shab and basketball senior night. The team is both a winter and spring sport, so newly elected captains are already anticipating their next moves for the upcoming season. New captain and junior Navah Gris noted the unavoidable shift in the dance team dynamic which will follow the departure of the squad’s five seniors. 

“I think a challenge with new people on the team is trying to get them engaged in the dance team, especially after losing so many people,” Gris said. “But, we’re hoping to keep the same fun vibes going.”

According to Gris, space was a difficulty for the team this year, as there were many more practice team dancers than in prior seasons. To remedy this, the team shifted one of their two practices each week from the school cafeteria to a real dance studio at the Bender JCC. 

Wrestling: Similarly, the wrestling team struggled with logistics early in the season. The limited space in the cafeteria was not optimal for practice, prompting the team to hold some practices at Pure Performance, a gym across the street.

Sophomore Adan Magnas is one of few experienced wrestlers with three years on the team. Other notable wrestlers include freshmen Zoya Wexler and Jonah Soffler. The remaining teammates’ experience varies, providing the group with a wide range of skill sets. To cater to these differing skills, training includes a variety of drills and exercises. The team does cardio, acrobatic drills, strength exercises and “live wrestling,” Magnas said.

According to Magnas, the team often had to forfeit matches, as their smaller team does not have wrestlers for each weight class. However, the team also hosted their first home meet since before COVID-19 on Feb. 22, marking their growth as a larger, more recognized team.

Winter Track: While winter track is not a competition season, students eager to maintain their running fitness for spring track continue to practice during the winter. With time trials and practices, runners have been preparing for the spring season.

Swimming: On Feb. 8, the swim team competed at University of Maryland at the Potomac Valley Conference finals. The team participated in multiple races, and the girls finished in third place overall. Read more about the swim team at 

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About the Contributors
Ruby Kotok
Ruby Kotok, Features Editor
Abby Chesman
Abby Chesman, Multimedia Editor
Abby is ecstatic to officially join the Lion’s Tale as Multimedia editor! She has been doing photography for the CESJDS publications for the past three years and is an Editor-in-Chief on the Bohr Franklin Science Journal, as well as a Student Admissions Representative. She is an aspiring cinematographer and her debut short The Window has won several filmmaking awards in the DC area. For fun, she enjoys listening to music, doing the NYT mini crossword, rock climbing, and the Oxford comma.

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