The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 21, Issue 11





Congratulations to the Rookie League Sharks, proud early winners of the Rookie League championship, the first team to clinch one of the four titles to be handed out this Fall 2017 season of youth basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA.

The Sharks, led by coach Tom Zelenovic, feature a deep lineup with, especially for a rookie team, a lot of scorers from which they can draw in any given game. They currently boast a perfect 8-0 record with the tournament championship game still to be contested by a Bruins team that would love to ruin their unblemished season. If the Sharks can run the table, as tradition would have it, they would then face a team full of the best players from the other five teams in the division in a post-season challenge match.

The Sharks won two more games this past weekend, a non-tournament tilt and a tourney semifinal on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

— In the first of the two, they took care of the last place Spartans, 17-12 (16-4 in regulation time) getting two baskets each from James and Annika Cook, Luke Steelman and Kyoko Bernet-Millan. The Cooks combined for 11 steals as well.  

— On Sunday, it was a 17-11 win over the Ballers, in a game where the defeated only scored 3 points in regulation time, all from Vaughn Elliot and all in the fourth quarter. The Cooks each had two more baskets and 12 steals totaled. Steelman scored another 3 for the winners and grabbed a career high 13 rebounds.

Other members of the champion Sharks team are Andie Ernst, Alex “Lady Bug” Zelenovic, Benjamin Saunders, Misha Lakhani and Axel Truxler.

— The other semifinal on Sunday went to the Bruins, who also went a perfect 2-0 on the weekend, as they disposed of the Warriors in a close affair, 14-12. Joseph Zak led the winners with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

Aysu Aghayeva led the Warriors, but no one could get more than one basket, leading to their downfall in the end.

Benny Arroyo was the hero with a steal and right wing 14 footer with 3:30 left in the third to give the Burins an 8-6 lead. Neither team would score again in regulation time from that point forward.

— Saturday’s Bruin victory was an easier 23-13 march over the Wilcats, with Zak the mastermind of the victory scoring a dozen points in this one. Hudson Schumacher was the only Cat to score more than 2.


The Minors played only two games, but with tournament time coming up in the 8-team division, teams taking the weekend off were watching the results carefully to see if they could sneak into the upper bracket of the post-season tournament.

— On Saturday, the Flash and Ducks battled to a flat-footed 19-19 draw, one that allowed the Flash to clinch a coveted “A” tournament berth. Chris Rhee went off for 11 points to lead all scorers in the contest, 7 of those in a fourth quarter that saw his Flash come back from down 12 points after three quarters to tie the game in a wild finish. Noah Kratz had 5 of his 7 in the final frame to account for the rest of the scoring therein.

Early on, it looked like a Duck runaway, with Lorenzo Stabilini, Dom Kajota and Jacob Burrows doing most of the damage to give the Ducks the big advantage that they ultimately could not hold on to. Kajota and Stabilini combined for 14 steals.

— The old sports adage “the team that needs to win the most usually does” held true on Sunday morning, as the Reign stayed very much alive for an “A” tournament spot, beating the suddenly struggling Orange Crush, 32-26.

The Reign built a 17-12 lead in the early third quarter, but Conner Sullivan hit back to back layups before the sub break and Jared Oliver gave the Crush their first lead of the game coming out of the break with a lay-in of his own.

With two minutes to go in the third quarter, the Reign took the ball out of bounds underneath their own basket and Jayson Badua found Miles Aguilar with a good pass to put the Reign back on top 19-18.

Keaton Templeman’s steal and layup upped the lead to three after three. Then Bauda hit a beauty of an up-and-under from 7 feet out on the right side to make it 23-18.

Down 25-18, Sullivan hit two late baskets to bring the Crush to within three by the final horn, leading into free throws. The Reign expertly hit 5 of their 8, the Crush only 1 of 4, and the Reign stayed alive.

Keaton Templeman led the winners with 8, followed by Yowhannes Dagnew with 6 and 10 rebounds. Taylor Chen had an important 5 points as did Aggie, and Bauda finished with 4. Sullivan was the big man for both teams scoring-wise with 13 but did not get enough help in that department. The Crush were without center Cecilia Casas.

If the Reign defeat the winless and bottom-dwelling Demons on December 2, they will get the fourth and final spot in the “A” bracket.  The Rebels will get in if the Reign are upset, but they can only sit and watch.


The ten-team Bantam league does not have a post-season tournament. And so it comes down to this: If the Lakers win out, they are champs, if not, it’ll probably be the Bulls. What we DO know is that it can’t be anyone else.

The Bulls kept their hopes alive by topping the Wildcats on Saturday morning in fine fashion, 29-9. Leo Sikora knocked down a dozen points and Ben Van Bilderbeek added 8 in the rout. Grey Broderick and Sophia Levi were best for the Cats.


— The Bulls pulled the double on Sunday, making it a 2-0 weekend with a nail-biting 13-12 win over the Warriors.  

The Warriors led 10-8 at the third quarter sub break after Zayd Al-Shawe’s 8 foot shot from inside the free throw line dropped in.

The Bulls took timeout to set up a play with 11 seconds left in the third and it paid off. Van Bilderbeek found Sikora who drilled a shot from 15 feet out from the left corner to tie the game 10-10.

On the first possession of the fourth period, Leo hit again from the right wing about 5 feet away to give the Lakers a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Kayra Sanar capped the Warriors scoring, and Isabella Van Bilderbeek hit a free throw post game to win it for the Lakers, as all other shooters for both teams came up empty.

Van Bilderbeek had 13 rebounds, Sikora 7 points in the win. Al-Shawe led the Warriros with a half-dozen points. Zoe Debenning had a season high 11 rebounds and 4 points for SMW.

— The Lakers upheld their end of the bargain on Sunday, beating the Thunder 31-22 (28-17 in regulation play). Eric Papazian was unstoppable for the Lake Show, scoring 22 with 16 rebounds and 6 steals. Parker Cappiccille had a nice game with 10 and 8 rebounds, two fewer than Max Baracy for the Thunder, who got six points from Matt Scholze.

— Back on Saturday, the Panthers got a three pointer among 7 points from Max Lewis to help the Panthers hold off the Warriors, 20-16. Gordon McLean hit for 6 and 8 rebounds for the winners. Al-Shawe was high point man in this one as well with all 8 regulation points for his team, the Warriors.

— Break up the Giants!! After losing their first 6 games, the Giants broke through into the win column not once, but twice this weekend!! The first one has to be classified as a bit of an upset as they handed the Beasts an 18-17 setback. The Beasts built an 8-4 lead after one quarter but the Giants tied it by half time on baskets by Antonio Rodriguez (6 points) and London Coleman (4 and 12 rebounds).

The decisive quarter was the third, and it was A-Rod and Dagmawi Ayele with baskets to put the G’s on top to stay. Darien Jones had a nice game in defeat, scoring 10 with 7 boards for the Beasts.

— On Sunday, the Giants kept the Wildcats still looking for their first win, beating them 22-20.

They led all the way, 12-6 at half time, and coasted home. Ayele dominated inside with 11 boards and 10 points for a nice double-double and was named Samo YMCA player of the week. Nice job, Dag!

Coleman continues to crash the boards hard in every game, this time racking up 16 rebs to go with 5 steals and points. Roman Schumacher played well in both games and Noah McLaurin is starting to come into form that saw him terrorize the rookie league before being moved up this season.

Broderick scored 8 for the Cats; Sophia Levi 4.


There were four Major League games, with the first two coming in tournament play on Saturday evening.

— The Blaze came back to form and won a good game with the Ballerz 37-33. Sam Rubin went off for 16 points and Keegan Fleigner added 9 with 15 rebounds for the victory, propelling the Blaze into the semi finals where they’ll take on the number one seed and regular season champ Lakers.

Estevan Rodriguez continued his hot shooting for the Ballerz scoring 15 and Milyon Mitchell added 8.


— The Streetdogs will face the Vipers in the other final four matchup in December, after holding off the resurgent Mambas 47-45. Dash Decker did just about everything, in scoring 28 with 13 rebounds in the win. Jason Tun had a season high 10 in support.

Nifty Tewodros scored 8 and Luca Sone, filling in for the rest of the season for the M’s had 15.

— Without Sone on Sunday, the Mambas were no match for the Lakers, dropping a hard fought 50-35 decision to the league leaders, who got out to a 20-5 lead after one quarter on spectacular shooting from Nasir Luna (20 points) and Eli Levi (15 and 5 steals). It was just a matter of playing them even the rest of the way.

Dash Wasson continues his impressive season-long play for the Mambas, scoring another ten with 15 rebounds double-double. Tewodros added 9, Evan Daghighian 7.

— In the finale of the weekend, the Vipers picked up a come from behind 35-26 win over the Ballerz, in which they outscored their opponent 19-3 n the final period after falling behind by as many as 10 during the third.

Pretty much everyone got in on the finishing act for the Vipers, with 6 of their 9 players scoring at least one basket in the frame.

Ervin Broughton led the team overall with 9 and 14 rebounds, and Zion Qurtman, trying his hand at the point guard spot, had 4 assists and 12 rebounds, and seemed to spark the fourth quarter rally with aggressive play overall. Yowhannes Mirhet was good in a supporting role for the Vs.

The Ballerz got another dozen from the hot hand of Rodriguez, and Gapar Antal grabbed an impressive 16 rebounds. The Ballerz played tenacious defense and shot just well enough to hold the lead for a long while, but couldn’t hang on.


While there is no action over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we can look ahead to the following weekend’s worth of games.

Saturday, December 2nd is a short day with just 5 games but two of them do stand out. At 2 p.m. the Minor League Reign try to battle their way into a final four spot in the “A” tournament but to do so they have to get by the Demons, who are looking for their first win of the season with three games still to play.

At 4:20 p.m., see if the Lakers can get one stop closer to the Bantam League title with a game against the Megaladons.

On Sunday, December 3, the Rookie tournament final comes up at 11:40 am as the Sharks try to go a perfect 9-0 in the regular season taking on the upset-minded Bruins.

At 3:10 p.m. and 4:20 p.m., the Minor League “A” semifinals will come along, followed at 5:30 and 6:40 by the same in the Major League, with all 8 teams battling still to try and win the league championship.

It should be an exciting weekend for all.










— 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, being 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. Mine 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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