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Yale Law Beats Harvard Law at Hoops; Raises $12K for Public Interest

The Yale Law School basketball team snapped a five-year losing streak and defeated Harvard Law School 74-56 to win the eighth annual YLS-HLS Court Classic. This year’s game—a joint fundraiser for Harvard and Yale’s public interest law programs—took place at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, home court of the Harvard varsity basketball team.

Zack Simmons ’12, YLS shooting guard, dropped 31 points to earn the Ropes & Gray MVP award.

“Every person contributed and made it possible for us to come away with the win,” said Simmons. “It was a high-energy atmosphere, and I think our practice and dedication over the past couple of months really showed up in the way we were able to overcome an early deficit to gain control of the game and then close it out with authority.”

The victory was particularly meaningful for the YLS third-year students, who had suffered two consecutive losses against Harvard coming into this year’s game November 19.

"I've had the great fortune to be a part of the Court Classic for three years, and it's been a terrific experience each time,” said team co-captain and center Arthur Plews ’11. “Having the chance to go out as only the second Yale team to beat Harvard in the history of this event made my final year all the sweeter.”

Plews’ co-captain, Kenneth Townsend ’11, starting point guard and second-leading scorer, plans to return next year—though in his third year on the team, his joint degree will keep him in New Haven for next year’s YLS home game.

"I think this year's team approached the Court Classic with the best attitude possible. We worked hard, prepared well, and were willing to do whatever the team needed—whether that meant playing the whole game or cheering on teammates from the sideline," said Townsend.

Indeed, as YLS brought twenty-two of their roster’s twenty-three players to Cambridge, inevitably a number of players spent a majority of the game on the bench. Yet enthusiasm clearly ran high, as bench players swamped the court on time-outs, shouted from the sidelines, and brought visible energy in their minutes in the game.

“We held practices three times a week. At practice, we worked on conditioning, game skills, and implementing plays,” said Townsend. The combination of depth and conditioning appeared to pay off; by the end of the game HLS players looked exhausted, according to Townsend, while YLS subbed in a platoon of fresh second-year students.

Beyond preparing for the game itself, the YLS team this year rededicated themselves to the public interest fundraising effort. Lead by third-year student and Fundraising Coordinator Nathan Hake ’11, the team raised more than $12,000, nearly three times the amount raised by recent Court Classics. Funds came from generous donations made by the bar exam prep company BARBRI and nine law firms. Each of these firms will employ one or more YLS summer associates in the coming year (a list of sponsors is provided below).

“Our team has accomplished a lot more than just winning a basketball game,” said Hake, who also subbed into the Classic at center and forward. “The money we raised will make it more affordable for students to choose summer public interest employment.”

In addition to the regular student competition, at halftime a team composed of YLS faculty and staff played their counterparts from HLS. Here as well, YLS emerged victorious, in a score of 21-16.

“Another year I survived without a heart attack,” said power forward Kevin Rose, 46, Supervisor of Building Services at the Yale Law School.

The Court Classic will take place in New Haven next year, exact date and location TBA, with primary responsibility for fundraising again rotating back to Harvard Law.

Simmons is already looking forward to the rematch in 2011. “It’s time to start preparing to defend our title next year," he said. Plews agreed, saying that the goal for the team going forward is “building a dynasty.”

Townsend, likely to return as captain in his fourth appearance on the team, struck a different chord in his closing remarks:

"I delayed my honeymoon for this year's Court Classic, so it's a good thing we won."

YLS Court Classic Team Roster:

Arthur Plews
Cameron Kistler
Carel Ale
Eddie LaCour
Eli Best
Eric Fish
Jesse Cross
Kenny Townsend
Nathan Hake
Rebecca Phillips
Seth Wayne
Stephen Gikow

Anthony Moffa
Chris Hollins
Forrest Dunbar
Jeremy Kaplan-Lyman
Kathryn Bradley
Miles Farmer
Patrick Maroney
Sava Berhane
Shebby Swett
Yoni Cohen
Zack Simmons

Halftime Faculty/Staff Team Roster:
Brad Hayes
Amy Kapczynski
Noah Messing
Kevin Rose
Jeff Selbin
Jim Silk
David Simon
Mike Wishnie

Court Classic Sponsors:

Appellate Court Sponsors
Sidley Austin LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

District Court Sponsors
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

MVP Awards Sponsor
Ropes & Gray LLP

Faculty Halftime Game Sponsor

Other Sponsors
Foley & Lardner LLP
Arnold & Porter LLP