The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 21, Issue 6




Catherine Casas of the Rookie Spartans dribbles towards the basket.

Only three weeks in and already there are only 7 of 30 teams with unblemished records at the Santa Monica YMCA Fall youth basketball league.

The Rookies, after waiting patiently since opening day a few weeks back, finally got to run again with their second games.

— The Ballers stayed perfect, opening up a 10-0, first-quarter lead and coasting home over the Bruins 19-11.

Arsha Farkhondeh scored 6 of his game leading 10 points in that opening frame, and grabbed 8 rebounds throughout the contest. Vaughn Elliot played his best game to date and was tabbed by the official scorer as Player of the Game.

Benny Arroyo tried to will his team to come back almost single-handedly, grabbing 12 steals (a top-ten all-time Rookie League mark for sure) and scoring 4 points, but the Bruins, overall, were unlucky in their shooting. Penelope Hunt played well for the Bruins.

The Spartans’ Aiden Lin is cut off from further progress by the Wildcats Dominic Drew in Rookie League play last weekend.

— The Wildcats pulled away late to defeat the Spartans, 15-11. Seven different players scored at least one basket, which is a real accomplishment for a Rookie League team, including the first ever baskets for Hudson Schumacher, Brendan Still, and Michael Mikhail. Henry Brown had two of ‘em, one (along with Schumacher) in the decisive fourth period. Luca Anderson, Jacopo Stabilini and Dominic Drew played well in victory.

Monika Diaz led team Sparty with 6 points and Aiden Lin played a solid game from start to finish. Samantha Suarez scored her first career basket.

— Division player of the week Annika Cook scored 14 points in outscoring the Shark’s opponents by herself in a lopsided 26-9 win over the Warriors. Brother James added 6 more, had 10 rebounds and 9 steals, and Misha Lakhani played a good game, too.

Felix Idell (4 points) and Aysu Aghayeva (10 rebounds) led the Warriors.


The Bantam League played a full series of games on Saturday, then watched as 4 of the teams came right back and went at it again on Sunday.

— The Bulls took a tight win over the Megaladons 20-18 in regulation time, winning the contest on post-game free throws — 3 out of 4 of them — from Leo Sikora, who ended up with a nice 10 point, 7 rebound, 6 steal effort. Brother Guy wasn’t far behind with 4 baskets and Ben Van Bilderbeek grabbed 8 rebounds.

The Bulls trailed big at halftime, 12-5 but rallied to take the victory. Jonathan Shu and Justin Tun each scored 6 for the Megs.

— The Bulls made it a very productive weekend in winning both of their games, as they carried away a 17-16 win over the Beasts on day 2. Asher Zaczepinski came through with four points to join the Sikora boys, who split 7, and Van Bilderbeek earned Player of the Game honors with 9 boards and a bucket. For Zaczepinksi, they were his first Bantam League baskets, as was the one for River Zelenovic.

The Bulls led just about the entire time, and won the regulation bout by 5 with post game free throws making it look closer. Darien Jones led the Beasts as five players scored baskets. Cooper Kun had 12 rebounds.

— It was, therefore, a tough weekend on the Beasts, as they had already dropped a 31-24 decision to the Lakers the day before. The Lake Show led throughout, paced by TWO players scoring in double figures with ten each — Eric Papazian and Russell Ma. Papazian had a double-double with a dozen rebounds, and got 6 steals to go with it. Youssef Chabbouh had ten boards in the win.

Aayan Lakhani had a big game for the Beasts with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals, and got 5 points worth of help from Jones, but the following day, Lakhani was held to a season low 2 points by the Bulls, and that may have been a big reason why they, and not the Beasts, were winners in that one.

It was the Lakers’ only game of the weekend.

— The Panthers and Thunder battled to our first seasonal tie in any division, an 11-11 draw on Saturday.

The Thunder trailed after the regulation horn but had a whopping ten free throws to shoot from being fouled in various hooting situations. They took advantage of just enough of those (three) to equalize things. Rich Cortez led the Panthers with 4 points/12 rebounds and Ryan Chamber hit a three point shot.

Roberto Sierra (4 points) and Parker Cappiccille (3) were high scorer in this low scoring affair.

— The Clippers scored an easy win over the Wildcats, 19-13. After trailing 1-0 after one quarter, they built a 6-1 lead by half time and rolled from there. Rowan Booher continues to play well, scoring 6 and Kalen Anderson did the same for the winners with 7 and 5 steals. T.J. Turner had a nice stat line before fouling out in the second half.

Sophia Levi led the Cats with 5 but no one else could score as much as a single basket.

— In Saturday’s night game, the Warriors cruised to a 17-12 win over the Giants, building a 7-1 half time lead and coasting to the finish line. Kayra Sanar scored 7 to lead the winners, and was aided by a four point evening from Alex Brick. Zoe Debenning added 9 rebounds; Brandyn Schrobilgen 4 steals, and Ali Grant scored his first career Samo Y basket.

London Coleman and Mason Judkins split 6 points to lead the Giants.


In the Minor League, three teams managed to stay perfect with early Sunday wins.


— The Flash took care of the Hurricanes 31-26 in a good one that lasted until near the end.

Hunter Esposito-Doi gave the Hurricanes a 10-9 lead with 3 minutes to go in the first half, and from there on, it was a wild, back and forth affair.  

On the next trip down, Dash Hansford’s shot hung on the rim for a very long time before deciding to fall off, but with 20 seconds left in the half, Amiel Doustan’s flying off balance 12 footer gave the Canes a 13-10 halftime lead.

Jayden Dove got the Flash back to within a point a minute into the third quarter and Asser Tewodors gave them the lead with a left baseline swish two minutes later. Tavio Esposito-Portillo stole that advantage right back with a shot from just inside the arc. Then it was “Rhee for Three” as Christopher hit the second of his two long shots on the day and the Flash led by two after three quarters.

Esposito-Doi quickly tied it, and just as quickly, Jayden Dove (8 points/11 rebounds) untied it again in favor of the Flash. Then those same two players each scored again on successful and successive trips.

Tewodros had a heartbreaking in-and-out shot at the end of a Flashbreak to even things up from earlier on.

Dove scored again and despite a three-pointer from the “Canes Ariel Aframian, Noah Kratz sealed the deal with back-to-back baskets to put the game out of reach.

Aframian finished up with 10 points, while Kratz had 7.

— The Thunder rumbled in the second half, outscoring the Ducks 18-11 in that two-period span, on the way to a 28-19 victory on Sunday. Arjun Mcintosh had three assists in the fourth quarter to go with three baskets, accounting for all 12 of his winning team’s points in that period. Jaden Fishman scored on two of those and had 6 on the day while Linnea Harris and Max Langer added four each.

Lorenzo Stabilini found that his new aggressive driving to the basket works well, as he was fouled enough times to finish with 7 points, five from the free-throw line. Dom Kajota finished with an even ten rebounds.

Alex Wray scored his first Minor League basket, and it was the first basket of this game to give his team a lead they would never give up.

— In the final Minor League game of the weekend, the Orange Crush used two shutout quarters — the first and last — to bookend a slim 26-25 win over the Demons (24-21 in regulation time) that ended with a bit of controversy.

Team OC won the opening and closing periods by 8-0 counts, being led in scoring by Conner Sullivan with 6, while Sophie Roth and the Kohli kids-Natasha and Armaan each had four. Bella Mussi-Nelson was busy on both ends of the floor with ball handling duties, had four steals and two fine assists in one of her better games at this level, to be sure.

Nathan Petros led the Demons with 8 points, followed by Kingston Luna with 7 to go with ten rebounds. For Luna, they were his first points at this level. Matthew Hanasab did the same with a basket for the Crush in the first quarter.

Scorekeeper, timer and coaching issues turned up at the end of the game to foul things up a bit, but in the end, the Crush hung on for the victory, their second without a loss.


The Major League teams finished things up with a three game, late Sunday set of games, for each, game number three of nine on the season. For various reasons, there was only one competitive contest amongst ‘em.

— The Streetdogs found out early in the week that arguably their best player, Dash Decker, had injured his wrist and arm (non-shooting left arm) and would be in a cast for at least two weeks and maybe as many as 6. Without him for any period of time will make it tough on this squad, and that certainly proved to be the case as they dropped a 44-16 decision to the Lakers.

Rama Karimi was very active throughout the game in the loss, and while others put forth some effort, none matched Karimi’s tenacity in this one for the Dogs.

On the other side, everyone got in on the act. Nasir Luna, coming back after a nasty spill the week prior, scored 12 to go with 11 boards for a nice double-double. Griffinn Pine scored 7 and three players — Will Sheehy, who garnered player of the game honors for playing his best game at this level, newcomers Theone Green and Nick Arjomand all scored a half dozen. The Lakers outrebounded the Dogs 46-18.

— The only reasonably close game of the three was not particularly well played, but it was closer. If you want to upset the league-leading Vipers, you have to play really tough defense on them AND score enough points to win the game (always important in most sporting events!)

The Ballerz did the first pretty well, but not nearly good enough in phase two and dropped a tough 22-15 decision to the unbeaten Vipers (3-0). Keeping an eye on Zion Qurtman, rumored to be in his last YMCA season before heading off to travel ball until high school starts next fall, is a very good idea. While he did not dominate in the scoring department (8), he did manage to pull down a gargantuan 21 rebounds to go with 5 steals. Charlie Donwey was next with 4 for the winners, who welcomed back Luca Marchis into active duty after missing the first few weeks with an injured leg.

The Ballerz certainly missed the dead-eye shooting of Gabe Aframian, who had to be god for at least a few points, right? Estevan Rodriguez and Milyon Mitchell each hit three pointers but only two other conventional baskets could be found all afternoon long. If they can correct that part of their game, they might have a shot if they come together again down the road.

— The Blaze defeated the depleted Mambas, 51-29 as three players scored in double figures including Mason Mehring, Sam Rubin and Keegan Fleigner, who led the way with a 15 point/20 rebound double-double. Every player in attendance had at least one basket.  Mason Mehring scored his first Samo Y league baskets — in fact he got two regular and two three-pointers.

Evan Daghighian led the M’s with 11 points and Nathan Bekele had 8 including a three pointer. Dash Wasson led with 12 rebounds.


This week’s highlights in games coming up Sunday:

The game of the day looks to be a battle of Minor League unbeaten when the Flash and Thunder battle at 5:30.

Both unbeaten Rookie teams take the court at 2 and 3:10 pm but not against each other.

At 11:40 am, the Bantam Thunder and Warriors each try to stay alive in the early championship race.


Go Dodgers!









— There is an information table with hard copies of this newsletter THE HOOP each week, along with other important information.

— Be sure to turn in your emergency packets. All new players have been given these at evaluations and parent’s night, but there are new forms if you lost yours located in my office or on the information table on game days. Believe it or not there are still four players who have yet to turn them in, and they are now ineligible to play in further games until they do so.

— Please yell encouragement and whisper criticism. Cheer for your team, and it’s actually okay to cheer for good plays by the other team, too!

— The playing time rules are simple. Your child MUST play at least half the game, unless they become injured or leave, or choose not to play. Players CAN play more, but that’s up to the coach. No one else. Especially not parents.

— Leave the referees alone.  Period.

— If you have any problems, please take them to your coach, and if you are not satisfied with your coaches reply, bring the issue to me.


— When your game is over, please help clean up the area where you sat and also the area where your team sat to make it ready for the next game. If yours is the final game, please help clean the gym and put away chairs and benches at the director’s request.


— Rookie ball is a youth ball (27.5) and they play on an 8-foot basket. There is no defense allowed outside the three-point line. If a team leads by 15, they must drop back into the key defensively and this may happen earlier at the director’s discretion. Two timeouts per game, one each half.

— Bantam League ball is intermediate (28.5) with baskets at 9 feet. Still no defense outside the three-point line. If a player hits a three-point shot, that player may be guarded (one-on-one only) for the remainder of the game outside the line. Three timeouts per game, no more than two in either half.

— Minor league plays defense out to half court, so if the lead goes to 15 they drop back to 3 point line, and if it grows to 20, they go into the key. Basket is at ten feet. Four timeouts per game, no more than two in either half.

— Major league is full court ball with a regulation size ball. When the lead goes to 15 the team ahead must not play defense past half court. Twenty is a drop back to the three-point line, 25 into the key. Four timeouts per game, no more than three in a half.

In all divisions, teams may come back out to play regular defense when the score goes back under the total that put them in there in the first place.

In all divisions, we play four, eight minute running time quarters. At the four minute mark, providing the offensive team at that moment is not directly threatening to score inside the three point line, the horn is sounded and the teams take a 20 second timeout to clear the bench of all substitutes. Teams must clear the bench again after each quarter ends. If, during a four minute segment in which a player is on the bench and they are called into the game to substitute for an injured player or one who cannot play further, the player going in may not be among those coming back to the bench at the next regular sub break.

— In all divisions, any shooting foul shots will be shot at half time and after the game. These count towards the final score of the game. It will then be presumed that the team that was fouled made their shots and it is the other team’s ball out of bounds, thus saving valuable seconds from clicking off of the clock. We’ll shoot them later.

At the end of the game (half-time in Major League games) players who have yet to score a single point will take part in a season long free throw shooting contest, shooting as many as six free throws (until they make one—or we give them the 6th one for free). These points do NOT count towards the final score unless they do not change the winner of the game. Then they do count.  

** If your child is injured, please resist the urge to rush onto the court to take care of them (unless it’s obvious that it is serious). Ninety-five percent of the time, if you give them 30-60 seconds, they are just fine, and continue in the game. Sometimes they have to go to the bench for a brief bit to recuperate. Let them work it out themselves as much as you can. The refs will handle it first, then the coaches, then you and me.

— If you or a member of your viewing party are not members of the Santa Monica Y, please be friendly with our front desk staff and sign the guest book each visit. It’s at the end of the counter. Children accompanying you may NOT roam freely through the YMCA, they must remain in the gym with you, and not go anywhere else. Thanks.

— We communicate generally through email. My contact information is, 310-393-2721 x 137

My assistant, Barry will be on hand many days while I may not be. He can answer your questions, and if not, you should ask me via email or phone call if I’m not there.  

— Check this newsletter every single week for important information. Feel free to forward this to anyone you’d like.

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