Trio of students from East shows enterprising spirit

One-day hoops tournament held to benefit Cherry Hill Food Pantry.

On May 16, three juniors from Cherry Hill High School East put together a basketball fundraiser for Cherry Hill Food Pantry. From left, Josh Janove, Steven Brown and Alex Levine. (Photo credit: Debra Janove/Special to the Sun)

Three hoops-mad juniors from Cherry Hill East High School — Alex Levine, Josh Janove and Steven Brown — didn’t just while away a lazy Sunday on May 16. They organized and held a 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraiser to support the Cherry Hill Food Pantry. 

Although the trio lost in a blowout in the finals, the bitter sting of defeat was smoothed over by the fact they raised more than $500 for the single-day event on the courts at Wallworth Park.

“We wanted to help the community, and we wanted to do a fun event to get all our friends and neighbors involved. It was the easiest way to do it,” Levine explained. 

Janove added that a starting point was finding a way to tie in the group’s customary pickup games. A revolving cast of anywhere from six to 10 of their friends played most days after school, either at their homes, Katz JCC or another court somewhere in the township. 

It was a natural choice to hold the event on the newer courts stationed just across the way from Crows Woods.

Called May Madness, because the fundraiser was held in a manner similar to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the day began with 13 teams participating in a double-elimination competition. The squads were composed of students from all four grade levels at East, as well as one team from West and one group from Eastern High School in Voorhees. 

In the first rounds, games were 12 minutes long or complete with the first team to reach 11 points. By the semifinals, when time constraints were less of an issue, games lasted until one team hit 15 points.

Representing East, the Avengers won the crown with a 12-4 drubbing in the finals of the event organizers, who called themselves The Kool-Aid Jammers.  Tournament games were all close up until the final tilt, which all three admitted was due to fatigue from the “ironman” nature of the tourney.

“We knew we wanted to give back to the community and thought the food bank would be a good option,” Janove stated. “I’ve personally donated to it in the past,  and we all have at one point, and thought it would be good to give back to them.”

Flush with sizable proceeds, the three juniors plan to visit a local grocery store and buy as much food as possible. The pantry provided the boys with a list of foods they need at the moment, and they’ll work from that list. 

Brown added the three were expected to make the grocery run on May 23, a Sunday, because their respective schedules are “crazy during the week.” 

The trio have plans to do something similar for the pantry later this year.

For more information about, or to learn how to donate or volunteer with Cherry Hill Food Pantry, visit: https://cherryhillfoodpantry.org/.