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Shalhevet Girls Basketball Makes History With Championship Win

The victory over the Marin County school was extra sweet after last year’s 38-27 loss to the same team in the championship showdown.
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March 10, 2023
Jubilant Shalhevet celebrates last Tuesday night, March 7, after winning the Southern California girls Division 5 basketball championship.

The Shalhevet High School girls’ basketball team made state history today, becoming the first Jewish school to win a CIF championship, defeating San Domenico of San Anselmo, 50-46, in Sacramento.

Arielle Grossman and Yalee Schwartz, both juniors, were the leading scorers for the Firehawks in the Division 4 game played in the Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

For Shalhevet, the victory over the Marin County school was extra sweet after last year’s 38-27 loss to the same team in the championship showdown. Both schools were Division 5 in 2022 before being elevated, and both were the top seeds in their districts.

The Firehawks qualified for the championship match by defeating Campbell Hall, 57-45, last Tuesday night in the Shalhevet gymnasium.

After today’s victory, Head of School Rabbi David Block sent the following message to the Shalhevet community:

“Hello from Sacramento, where our Girls Basketball Team just won the Division 4 California State Championship!

“I’m not sure that most realize the magnitude of the accomplishment. So, to put this in perspective: According to a CIF official, the probability of simply returning to play in the State Championship game twice in a row (as we have) is 0.15% – and that says nothing of winning it. The Southern Section of California has over 530 teams, making California the hardest place in which to win State.

“I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of — and happy for — these girls. They didn’t do it just for themselves. As Arielle Grossman said in the post-game press conference, the team sees itself as representatives of the whole Jewish community. This win belongs to Jews everywhere.

“For those who follow Firehawk Nation, you know that, thank God, our basketball program has had much success over the last number of years (and none higher than winning State). Playing in a State Championship twice in a row is remarkable on its own; I daresay that it’s unprecedented for a small Orthodox Jewish school playing in a sea of schools with enrollment 12 times ours. We owe so much to Coach Ryan Coleman (a coach, mentor, leader – but, most of all, a true teacher), to his whole coaching crew – and especially to our student athletes. They work incredibly hard and their championship win is well-earned.

“As I mentioned, in the upcoming days, we’ll share more about the season. But, the nachas we get from these girls is not just about their on-court prowess (as exceptional as it is). Principal Daniel Weslow called from the bus up to Sacramento yesterday and shared something that I thought was beautiful – and really captures who we are. Here’s Mr. Weslow:

Our journey up to Sacramento, I was expecting nothing but sleep and relaxation, as would be the case with most high school students. Instead, here’s what we got: At different points throughout the course of our 6.5 hour trek, the bus was filled with ruach, laughs, and the girls’ personal reflections from the season. But what was truly special was seeing our girls zooming into calculus classes, writing papers, and working with and supporting each other.

It reminded me that this is a team that is not only deeply committed to their athletic craft, but they take their academics and Torah learning seriously, too. With one of the strongest collective GPAs of any sports team, these girls are the true definition of student athletes who represent our school on and off the court. Beyond that, they have an amazing knack of creating a sense of togetherness and family – and it includes everyone, from our one-of-a-kind team manager to our team captains. They are well-rounded, hard-working, community-committed mensches.”

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