By Brian Bateman
When two Dallas basketball teams gazed down to the Maccabi award clanging around their necks, the colors clearly clashed.
Silver jerseys, gold medals.
But to the 14-and-under and 16-and-under Dallas Silver squads, it didn’t matter one bit.
This year’s golden boys had scaled the top of their division with both squads taking home the top prize in the Blue divisions.
While other teams battled in the tournament bracket, these consolation champions weren’t too upset with the victory.
“The coolest thing about our team was: In our first practice we had nine guys on the team and none of the guys knew each other. By the end of Thursday, it was a team of nine brothers,” 16-and-under coach Chad Albert said. “They were best friends, so close. When you have a team like that, it breeds success.”
The Silver squads were the only Dallas teams to win gold; however, at least 36 teams and individuals (12 gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze) took home a medal from the Games. Complete results were not available at press deadline.
The 14-and-under squad became the first such Dallas team to strut gold, but it didn’t come easily in a 53-52 win over Cleveland.
Silver controlled the scoreboard for most of the game, but Silver struggled to corral Cleveland’s top players.
“They had two players that we just couldn’t guard,” Pollack said. “We ran the triangle-and-two (and other formations), and they seemed confused for most of the game, but their big guy started to figure it out at the end.”
Cleveland cut the lead to 1 with 1:30 to go, and after a few missed c
hances on both sides of the ball, Silver had a one-and-one chance at the free-throw line with 15 seconds left.
The shot missed on the front end, and Cleveland grabbed the rebound.
During the ensuing timeout, the Silver coaches called for the three-quarter press, which slowed Cleveland enough to limit them to one final shot.
“Their best player got a shot off, but we got a fingertip on it,” Pollack said.
The result: The attempt falling just short of the basket.
The Silver squad almost had to do it without their point guard Elan Weider, who was supposed to fly to Vancouver on Thursday morning. After Silver advanced in the tournament, Weider’s father frantically searched for a new flight, and found one less than three hours after the championship game ended.
Weider was an important part of the run. He played nearly the entire tourna
“We asked him to do a lot,” Pollack said. “We ran two squads of four, and he stayed on the floor since we had an odd number.”
During the run, Philipp Prostok hit a buzzer-beater off the glass, while Alex Witheiler had a big game in the championship. Post Ryan Zlotky also came up big in the title game with two key blocks.
In the 16-and-under game, Dallas Silver had no trouble with the squad from Down Under, winning easily, 61-39.
Silver had met the Australian delegation in the early round and shot the Aussies out of their zone defense with 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
In the rematch, Australia went with a man-to-man defense. That didn’t work much better.
Sam Schultz scored 26 points, partly during a 14-2 second-quarter run, and Silver turned the 26-all game into a 20-point affair for most of the second half.
“They didn’t have anyone who could stop (Schultz),” coach Chad Albert said.
It was the second straight blowout of the day after defeating fellow Dallas squad White, 62-37.
Volleyball settles for silver
Early Thursday, it appeared as if the Dallas Blue volleyball tea
m was rolling toward a gold medal. The squad’s only round-robin loss came in a tight, 25-22, 25-23 match against Los Angeles Westside.
In bracket play, Blue swarmed past Dallas White and a combined sq
uad from Boston, San Antonio and Houston — shutting out the latter in the last semifinal game.
But Westside learned from its close victory in the round-robin, and won the three-set championship, 25-17, 25-13, 25-15.
A dozen medals in the pool
In the pool, Richard Nichol shined with two golds. He claimed first in the 50-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley.
Zoe Evangelist also took home gold in the 100 breaststroke.
Sweep on the greens
On the greens, sibling duo Bryce and Jaxie Pidgeon commanded a sweep of the boys’ and girls’ 16-and-under divisions. Ross Chazanow claimed second in the boys’ 14U division.
Next year’s Maccabi Games sites will be in St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; and Stamford, Connecticut. The St. Louis Games — the most likely destination for Dallas delegations — will run from July 31 to Aug. 5, 2016.