Orthodox Jewish Hoopsters Withdraw From Friday Night Semifinal

Robert M. Beren Academy, which recently won a regional Houston basketball championship, appeals decision to play game on a Friday night since all athletes observe Shabbat, but tournament's organizing committee refuses.

The Robert M. Beren Academy basketball team, which recently won a regional Houston championship, is set to miss its semifinal match this Friday night in the state tournament. The reason: The Texas-based academy is an Orthodox Jewish school, and all the athletes observe Shabbat.

The academy appealed the decision to play the game on a Friday night, but the tournament's organizing committee refused.

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"When they joined the tournament years ago, we warned them that a problem might arise if they reached the semifinal," one committee member said. "We have never changed schedules in order to accommodate teams. If we reschedule one game, we might cause problems for other schools. Solving one problem might cause others."

The school that lost to the Beren Academy in the regional finals was called to fill in, but Mark Bushein, whose 17-year-old son Isaac is on the team, has decided to fly to Dallas, where the final is to be held, hoping to engineer a last-minute solution that will enable the team to play.

"It's very disappointing, and the kids are also disappointed," he said, "but the team's ethics is just to continue on our way, even if we get bad calls."