Beren loses quadruple overtime thriller


Beren Academy, which made international headlines last year with its battle to avoid a forfeit in the Texas state boys' basketball tournament over a Sabbath scheduling conflict, lost a quadruple overtime game in the state semifinals.

Beren lost by one-point to Boerne Geneva after a last-second layup to win the game rimmed in and out. The Houston Jewish day school was down by three points in the closing seconds of the third overtime, but kept thier chances alive with a running three-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer.

The schools were playing a semi-final game in Fort Worth in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 2A tournament — for schools with enrollments of 55 to 120 students. Supporters say Beren would have been the first Jewish school to win a state championship.

Beren lost in the 2A title game last season after initially being forced to forfeit its semifinal because the game, scheduled for Friday night, conflicted with the Sabbath. The academy fought TAPPS to have the game rescheduled to Friday afternoon and eventually won the battle.

Following the controversy, TAPPS instituted a new policy, posted on the association’s website, stating that religious accommodation “shall be the standard as TAPPS prepares for state competitions that are accessible to all member schools and the students that they serve through team activities.” The new policy went into effect for the 2012-13 school year.

Meanwhile, Chicagoland Jewish High School is set to play Saturday night for a trip to the Class 1A state semifinals in Illinois.

TAPPS head: Beren Academy should never have been accepted to association


The Beren Academy Orthodox Jewish day school should never have been accepted to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, the association’s director told a Texas newspaper.

“We shouldn’t have accepted them in the first place,”  Edd Burleson, director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or TAPPS, told the The Dallas Morning News in an interview published on Sunday.

The Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston made international headlines early last month after requesting that a semifinal championship basketball game be rescheduled so that it did not conflict with the Jewish Sabbath.

The game was rescheduled after a group of parents of students sued the association in court. The team won the semifinal game, but went on to lose the final, also rescheduled to a later time on Saturday after the Sabbath was over.

Burleson told the newspaper that he believes that the association would have won the case if it had gone to court. “If we had fought it, we would have won,” Burleson told the newspaper. “But that would have taken weeks. We didn’t have the time.”

“What else would you want me to say?” Burleson said in the interview. “Want me to come up with some politically correct gobbledygook? I can’t. I’m telling you that’s how I feel.”

TAPPS had said in a statement posted on its website following its decision not to change the semifinal that when the Beren Academy first met with the association’s board in 2009 to discuss membership, it was told that tournament games are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, and that the school’s athletic director said he “understood” and “did not see a problem.”

The Texas Catholic Conference Education Department, representing 43 Texas Catholic high schools told the Houston Chronicle that Burleson’s comments came as a surprise, and that the group is committed to reforms that will make TAPPS more welcoming to a diverse membership.

The group said in a statement that if Burleson’s position remains the same that Catholic schools “will reconsider their future affiliation with TAPPS.” It also said that in a meeting last week with TAPPS member schools, Burleson committed to working to resolve diversity issues.

The association in 2010 rejected a Muslim school from Houston for membership.

Orthodox school falls short in Texas tournament


The Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston lost, 46-42, to Abilene Christian in the 2A private and parochial boys basketball state championship game.

Down by 11 points early in the fourth quarter, Beren closed the deficit to three with two minutes to play but could not cap the comeback effort.

Co-captain Isaac Mirwis and junior sensation Zach Yoshor each had 15 points to lead Beren. After a slow start, Yoshor hit a three-point shot to tie the game 19-19 at halftime.

Beren, which finished its season with a school record 25-6 mark, had grabbed national headlines with its push for a pre-Shabbat starting time for its semifinal game Friday. The Stars defeated Dallas Covenant, 58-46, to secure a spot in the title game on Saturday night after the Jewish Sabbath.

The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, known as TAPPS, originally ruled that the semifinal game would be played at its original 9 p.m. Friday start time—after the start of the Sabbath. Beren, a Modern Orthodox school, would have opted to forefit without a change in the schedule.

But TAPPS reversed itself just hours after the announcement that Beren’s team captain, along with teammates and parents, had enlisted the support of prominent Washington attorney Nathan Lewin and filed a lawsuit against the association; the lawsuit also named the Mansfield Independent School District, whose facilities are hosting the semifinals and finals of the 2A tournament. The 2A category includes schools with enrollments of 55 to 120.

The championship game was originally set for 2 p.m. Saturday, which also conflicts with the Sabbath.

“We feel this was a success,” said Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren’s head of school, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “We got to compete in a basketball game, but the whole experience for the school was really remarkable. It brought the community together. Sometimes you don’t have an event like this to do that. We’re not pioneers. We just thought it was right for us to play. It was good for basketball.”

TAPPS in a statement posted on its website Wednesday had said that when the Beren Academy met with the association’s board in 2009 to discuss membership, it was told that tournament games are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, and that the school’s athletic director said he “understood” and “did not see a problem.”

Beren’s plight made international headlines this week and garnered support from several public figures, including the mayor of Houston, the former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). The team had earned a spot in the state semifinals last week with a 27-point victory in the quarterfinals.

Orthodox ballers sue Texas school school district


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