The unbeaten Minor League Orange Crush play a tight, tough zone “D”

Most teams have hit the halfway mark of their seasons, and league championships remain up for grabs in all four divisions, although one team, the Rookie Sharks, are threatening to make it a runaway in the Fall 2017 youth basketball league at the Santa Monica YMCA.

In the Major League, they played both of the final two rounds of the round-robin portion of the schedule on both Saturday morning and Sunday evening.

— The Lakers swept their weekend games to take over first place heading into post-season play. First, they K.O.’d the Mambas 53-30, building a big 19-8 first quarter lead and coasting home with double-digit scoring in three of four quarters. Nasir Luna had 15 to lead all scorers and Griffinn Pine added 13 to lead the winners. Dash Wasson continues his fine play this season for the M’s, scoring 10 with a ridiculous 25 rebounds.


Nifty Tewodros is guarded by Gabe Aframian in major League game

— On Sunday, the Lakers became the first team to best the previously undefeated Vipers, winning 37-35 when Pine dropped in 6 out of 6 post-game free throws to clinch the victory.

It started out calmly enough and in the fashion to which the Vipers had become accustomed, as they led 11-6 out of the gate. By halftime, that lead was trimmed to 2; by the end of three, it was tied.

Theone Green hit a runner to give the Lakers their first lead, 11-10 with 5:30 to go in quarter number two. Gian Luca Tosonotti’s follow shot put the Vipers right back on top on the next trip. To this point in the game, the Vipers had been doing a nice job of defending Luna, who did not score his first basket until there was only 1:05 left in the first half, but it made it 16-13 Lakers.

Will Sheehy’s three-pointer tied it moments later and half-time free throws gave the V’s the advantage heading into the second half.

Ervin Broughton, who had 13 rebounds and 15 points on the night, hit twice in a row inside to give the Vipers a 6 point cushion, but Luna’s shot tied it not long after.

Yowahnnes Mihret hit a mid range jumper to put the Vipers back on top.  It was that kind of game, and you already had the feeling it was going to come down to the very end.

Eli Levi drained a three to put the Lakers back up, but Hudson White made the scale tip the Vipers way again with 4:20 remaining in the game, 28-27.

Sheehy hit a crowd-wowing reverse and was fouled, making it 29-28 Lakers with 2 minutes to go.

Zion Qurtman went hard to the basket for a layup from the left wing and it was 30-28 Vipers when the final horn sounded… with lots of free throws to shoot for both teams. When it was over, Pine did his thing and Sheehy hit two of his four, to outdistance the Vipers who did manage to make 5 of 12, which was not enough by two.

Interestingly, the same two teams will meet in the feature game this Sunday night at 6:40 with the top seeding in the tournament on the line for the winner.

Levi finished with 10 points; Qurtman had 8.

— The Vipers were winners in their first game of the weekend, besting the Streetdogs on Saturday morning 41-35. Qurtman and Broughton split 24 points down the middle, and each had a double-double, with Qurtman grabbing 11 rebounds and Broughton a mighty 22. The Dogs were led by 11 from Xailoh Hermosillo in his best Major League game to date and 11 more from Dash Decker.

— The Streetdogs bounced back Sunday, defeating the Blaze 46-33. The Blaze had not played as well on Saturday but put up a decent effort in this one before failing in the end. This time, Decker was unstoppable, scoring 25 with 16 rebounds. Shiva McIntosh added a good looking 8 points.

Spencer Hotch was the top scorer for the Blaze with 14 and was aided by 8 from Fred Ekberg and 17 rebounds from Tommy Sorady.

— The Saturday Blaze affair was a 20 point setback to the Ballerz, who routed them 55-35. Estevan Rodriguez, Gabe Aframian and Gaspar Antal were the Ballerz’ mainstays, and good support was provided by Milyon Mitchell, Bruno Picazo, Josh Kaplan, Ian Villanueva and Ari Potamianos. Everyone chipped in with something good.

The Blaze were without Coach Jim and player Keegan Fleigner, who were back in New York to watch the elder run the yearly marathon there. And finish well, too! Congrats.

The Ballerz took advantage particularly inside, got double figures in rebounds from three players—Josh Kaplan (14), Estevan Rodriguez (13) and Gaspar Antal (12)—on the way to a 62-26 rebounding advantage. That turned into an awful lot of put back points. Rodriguez led the way with 10 points, including a couple of three point shots, followed by Antal and Potamianos with 8 and 6. Kaplan had 6 as well, and Mitchell added 7. Picazo scored 6 and dished out four assists. Aframian hit four baskets. The Ballerz were on fire and scored in double figures in each of the four quarters.

Michael Hanasab led the Blaze with 8, 6 of those on long three point shots in garbage time. Mason Mehring, Sam Rubin and Tommy Sorady played well.

— On Sunday, the Ballerz completed their perfect weekend with a 48-27 swamping of the Mambas. Wasson dropped in 11 with 13 boards, and Nifty Tewodros scored a luck 7 points, both for the losing cause. Aframian was aflame with 13, followed by Mitchell with 10 and Rodriguez with 8. Antal and Potamianos each had double figures on the glass for a team that won the rebound battle 61-32.


There was only one Rookie League game, and it decided which of the division’s six teams would be finishing last in the regular season. It turned out to be the Spartans, who dropped a tough 21-16 decision to the Bruins. The winners built a huge 12-2 half time lead before easing up and it was Joseph Zak who did nearly all the damage, scoring 12 of his team’s 16 regulation time points. Leilee Sariri scored her first ever basket in this one.

The Spartan’s Cam Pariser had five steals and a bucket, the first in what promises to be a long and illustrious career.

— In other Rookie League news, the Ballerz won a coin flip between the two teams tied for second place and chose to enter post-season play as the number three team in the league, a move seen as both cowardly and intelligent at the very same time, as they avoid playing the first place Sharks in the opening game. This reporter says “good call”.


The Orange Crush remained perfect in the Minor League at the half-way pole, beating down the challenge of the Thunder in Saturday action. Natasha Kohli led the winners with 8 points. Jaden Fishman had the same amount for the Thunder, who did not get as much help in a 23-18 loss.

— Earlier, the Rebels topped the Flash in a game that ended with some heated moments. It was, however, already over by halftime as the Rebs built a five-point lead and held it for the most part of the second half.

Harrison McGuire returned to form with 11 points and 7 rebounds to garner Player of the Game honors. Roderick Johnson scored 8 and Isley Williams had 11 rebounds to help the Rebels 40-20 rebounding win.

Joey Little played well overall. Noah Kratz led the Flash with 9; Asser Tewodros added 8.

— The Ducks continue their mid-season surge with a 30-24 triumph over the Hurricanes, who have not won since their opening day victory some five games ago. It was 14-4 after one quarter and smooth sailing for the Duckies from there on into the finish line.

Dom Kajota keeps making his argument for being moved to the big leagues with another strong performance: 11 points and 9 rebounds among other things he did throughout the game. Lorenzo Stabilini is enjoying his finest ever season, and scored 8.

For the ‘Canes, Hunter Esposito-Doi dropped in an even ten points.


Major League action Sunday at the Y

The rest of the weekend belonged to the Bantam league, and on Sunday from morning through late afternoon, all ten teams played another round of quality ball for the fans.

— In the very first game, the Lakers took over first place from the previously unbeaten Bulls, winning the head to head match up 19-16.

Early on, it was just a back and forth track meet with lots of steals and no baskets. Eric Papazian finally broke through and scored the game’s first three buckets in a 6-0 first quarter. The lead was upped to 9-0 by halftime before the Bulls finally broke through.

When they did, they made it a game quite quickly. Leo Sikora scored first, then again and found Ben Van Bilderbeek and brother Guy to trim the lead to three, at 11-8, early in the fourth period.

But Bryson Brown’s bank shot basket from the right baseline off of a nice inbounds pass from Papazian gave the Lakers a 13-10 lead, and shortly thereafter Papazian, who scored 9 on the day to go with 12 rebounds and 6 steals (not to mention 4 blocked shots), made a layup to put the game out of reach.

— The Thunder nipped the Megaladons 11-10 in game two play. Max Baracy’s baseline shot put the Thunder ahead 7-6 with 3 to go in the third quarter, but Kellen McDonough quickly turned that around for the Megs with a spinner from the left wing a minute later.

In the fourth and final period, Parker Cappiccille made a jumper from the right side on the Thunder’s first possession and it was 9-8 in their favor again.

Jonathan Shu scored 2 of his game high 6 for the Megaladons in the final frame but standout Evan Chang picked up his fifth foul and was forced to watch from the bench the rest of the way, which totaled the final 5:07.

Roberto Sierra put his team ahead to stay with 4:30 remaining, and no one could score even a single point for the rest of the game, making that the game winning shot in a one-point decision.

— Game three was a 17-13 Beast win over the Clippers that wasn’t really settled until time started to run out. Archer Aguilar’s fourth quarter basket put it away from the Beasts, while Darien Jones scored the only other second half basket for the winners. Kahlo Lemond scored basket number one over two seasons at the Y, this one for the Clips.

— The Giants had a peak at their first win of the season, but it slipped away in a frantic fourth quarter finish for the Panthers, who finally pulled it out, 24-20.

Unusually, both teams had all ten players for this game, meaning everyone played precisely half of it.

The size of the Panthers’ Gordon McLean and Richard Cortez, who each scored four points in the 8-2 fourth quarter run that propelled the Panthers to the win, told the tale in the long run. McLean was particular tough, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with his 10 point afternoon. Dagmawi Ayele and London Coleman led the Giants, who are threatening to win their first of the season before too much longer.

— Finally, the Warriors kept the Wildcats winless, with a 23-16 win. Zayd Al-Shawe was his usual tough self, scoring 11 in the win in a game that wasn’t that close. Toghrul Aghayev scored his first basket of the season, and only second of his career in four seasons in his best game this year for the Cats. Sophie Levi added 4.


This weekend sees the start of tournament play in one division and post-season action begins in another.

On Saturday, you can see the top two rookie teams go at it at 12:50 pm when the Sharks meet the Wildcats.

At 3:10, the 4-1 Bantam Bulls meet the 3-1-1 Panthers in a biggie.

On Sunday at 12:50, the Orange Crush put their perfect Minor League record on the line against the dangerous Rebels.

At 2:00 and 3:10 pm the Rookies have their tournament quarterfinal games, with pairings not yet set but will be known after the three early games on Saturday. Fourth place opens vs 5th place followed by the 3-6 matchup.

And as mentioned earlier, the major Lakers and Vipers have a rematch of a fabulous game from this past weekend as 1st meets 2nd in the nightcap of what promises to be another exciting weekend full of 16 games.


Thank you 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, 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 timeout 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 halftime 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.

Learn More