‘Nejdehs’ and ‘Sebouhs’ Rise Up as NAT Champions

WORCESTER, Mass.—The Worcester “Aram” AYF Chapter played host to the annual AYF National Athletic Tournament (NAT) held on March 7.  The chapter and its alumni did a fantastic job showing their guests a great time in a city that boasts the first ever Olympic champions.

The Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ Chapter men’s basketball team at the annual NAT in Worcester.
The Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ Chapter men’s basketball team at the annual NAT in Worcester.

More than 100 athletes represented chapters from throughout the Eastern Region, including places as far away as Chicago and Washington, D.C.  Held at the impressive Worcester Academy, the tournament witnessed an exhilarating showdown between two neighboring chapters that never seem to get away from facing each other in any AYF tournament. Participating chapters included the Chicago “Ararat” (women), Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” (men and women), Greater Boston “Nejdeh” (men and women), New Jersey “Arsen” (men), Philadelphia “Sebouh” (men and women), Providence “Varantian” (men and women), Washington D.C. “Ani” (women), and a mixed chapter featuring men from North Andover, Blackstone Valley, and Chicago.


Men’s Tournament

The men’s tournament began with the Greater Boston chapter facing off against the Detroit chapter in what was a very close game. The “Nejdehs” would later advance to play their neighboring rivals, the Providence “Varantians” in the semi-finals. The Philadelphia men’s team began their tournament playing against the combined North Andover/Blackstone Valley chapter, which resulted in a spot for Philadelphia in the semi-finals against the “Arsens” from New Jersey.

The Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ and Philadelphia ‘Sebouh’ men’s basketball teams shake hands following their final match.
The Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ and Philadelphia ‘Sebouh’ men’s basketball teams shake hands following their final match.

The men’s semi-finals were the highlight of the tournament, both showcasing showdowns between neighboring teams in their respective districts.  The Philadelphia and New Jersey men squared off in a back-and-forth game, with the “Sebouhs” advancing to the finals.  The following men’s game, between the “Nejdehs” and “Varantians,” was the highlight of the tournament.  With the “Varantians” taking a large lead at the half, hope was dwindling on the Greater Boston bench.  However, with excellent plays and key fouls, Greater Boston beat Providence with what was a buzzer-beater basket. In a fraternal finals game between Greater Boston and Philadelphia, leading scorers Raffi Yapoujian (Greater Boston) and Avi Keshgegian (Philadelphia) carried their teams, with Greater Boston taking home—for the first time—the men’s trophy. A job well done to all the teams!

Women’s Tournament

The women’s tournament commenced with the ladies from Greater Boston taking a commanding win over Chicago, earning them a spot in the semi-finals against the defending women’s champs, the Philadelphia “Sebouhs.”  For the first time in a while, the Washington D.C. “Ani” ladies represented their chapter while playing against the “Kopernik Tandourjian” women from Detroit.  Detroit would pull out a win for a place in the semi-finals against Providence. 

The “Nejdehs” and “Sebouhs” showed great effort in what was a commanding game for Philadelphia, earning them a spot in the finals.  The Detroit and Providence teams squared off in a close game, with the “Varantians” advancing to the finals.  For the second consecutive year, the Providence and Philadephia teams faced off in the finals.  Leading scorers Lorig Stepanian (Philadelphia) and Sarah Varadian (Providence) led their teams in what was a close game, ultimately awarding Philadelphia their second consecutive win (22-18).  Great job all-around to all the women’s teams!

The day’s activities concluded with an evening at a local Middle Eastern restaurant where the trophies were presented to the winners and music featured Worcester AYF alumnus, DJ Chris Habibian.
Congratulations to the winners and the Worcester “Aram” AYF community for hosting a great weekend.

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Tamar Kanarian

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