The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 21, Issue 12





The Rookie tournament champion Bruins pose for a post-game photo. They finished second overall to the Sharks in league play.

In three of the four divisions of Fall League youth basketball for 2017 at the Santa Monica YMCA, the champions are yet to be determined and will come down to the final games of the season for each. In the other, the Sharks, who had already long ago clinched the top spot in the overall league, were upset in their bid for league perfection, oozing a tough game to the Bruins in the finale of the post-season division tournament.

We begin with the Rookies then, as their season is over and done with, save for the game against the parents and the various all-star games to come before the post-season awards are handed out on December 17.

This past Saturday, the Spartans edged out the Wildcats in the tournament consolation game, 12-11, using a 4-1 surge in the decisive third quarter to pull it off. Aiden Lin had all of his team’s points in that frame and led all scorers in the contest. Samantha Juarez and Monika Diaz added much needed baskets in the regulation time 8-5 win.

The Cats were led by Henry Brown, Jacopo Stabilini and Michael Mikhail. Theo Richards scored a basket.

Joseph Zak of the Rookie Bruins aims for the hoop[ under the pressure from the Sharks’ James Cook. Zak had a rare Rookie League triple-double in the game.
— On Sunday morning the Ballers took the third place game, 18-16 over the Warriors.  Felix Idell’s (8 points) driving lay in from the right side of the lane on the Warriors first possession after the final substitution break closed the gap to 12-10, but Arsha Farkhondeh (8 points/15 rebounds and 4 steals) hit from the top of the key just inside the three point line to put the game away with 2:40 remaining.

Vaughn Elliot added 4 for the winners.

— In the championship match, the game was tight throughout and came down like this:

Leilee Sariri opened the scoring for the Bruins, but Annika Cook scored on an assist from Axel Trussler to tie it up. Moments later, Joseph Zak gave the Bruins the lead, then followed his own miss with another basket at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter to make it 6-2, Bruins.

Forty seconds later, Kyoko Bernet-Millan got a nice pass inside from Annika to trim to the lead to 2 at the quarter.

Usually quiet Andie Ernst hit the first of her two baskets on the morning top open scoring in the second period and tie the game at 6’s a minute and a half in. After a mad scramble for a loose ball the Bruins called time out to set up a play, allowing Benny Arroyo to find Zak who hit from the right side of the lane to put the Bruins back on top.

Bernet-Millan knotted things up again with 2:17 until intermission. Then Zak nailed along jumper with 40 seconds left and hit a pair of half time free throws to give the Bruins their biggest lead, 12-8 at the break.

Misha Lakhani hit a swish shot on the Sharks’ first try of the second half to get them back to within 2, and Ernst tied the score at 12 just about a minute after that. There it stayed through the next 14 minutes and ten seconds of tension filled basketball right up to the final buzzer. The Sharks missed their only two post game free throws, and Benny Arroyo hit one of his two to give the Bruins a 13-12 regulation time victory.

Zak finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals, barely missing an unheard of Rookie league triple-double. Arroyo had 3 with 6 and 4. Annika Cook led the Sharks with 7 steals.

The Sharks win the league, but the Bruins can boast of playing the best ball at the end of the season in their runner-up roles.


The Minor League Reign have had their backs to the wall for the better part of the second half of the season. After coming out of the gate slowly, they faced elimination week after week. They faced a must win situation again on Saturday morning, having to get by the winless Demons (easier said than done) to advance to the 4th and final spot available in the Minor League “A”, or upper division tournament, and keep alive their hopes of an overall league championship.

Win that one they did, 35-24, opening up a 23-10 half time bulge before coasting home.

Keaton Templeman had a pair of late three pointers to lead his team with 12. Kingston Luna was magical in defeat, scoring 16 with 5 steals.


So it was on to the semi finals for the Reign. No rest for the weary, they had to open the following day with the top seeded Orange Crush, whom they had beaten just a week prior by the scantest of margins.

This one was one of those rare sporting events that was even better than the pre-advertised hype.

A scrappy first half ended with the Crush on top 8-7, but shooting foul free throws by Taylor Chen and Miles Aguilar flipped that around to the Reign’s side of the ledger.

To open the third quarter, Bella Mussi-Nelson found Ande Daly for her only basket of the afternoon, one that moved the seesaw the OC way. With 4:40 to go in the third, Yowhannes Dagnew (13 rebounds, best in the game) tossed in a short follow shot with a right wing bank-in to push the score to 11-10, Reign.  

Conner Sullivan, who played a fine overall game on both ends of the floor, hit a wild flying bank shot from the right wing under pressure and the Crush went back on top, 12-11 heading into the third quarter sub break.

It took nine more minutes of end-to-end action before the Crush could up that advantage to three points, 14-11 with just a minute to play in regulation time. After the final horn, the Crush missed their two free throws, but the Reign were clutch, as Aguilar dropped in two in a row, then Dagnew had his first go way down and come out before tying the game at 14 by sinking the final shot of the regulation game.

The National YMCA Association rules only allow for overtime to be played in tournament games where advancement is needed and all-star games (??). This one qualified, so the teams were allowed to select their top five players on this day according to the coaches for the three minute extra period.

In which no one scored.

Them it comes down to another jump ball, and the first team to score wins the game. In six years we have had two previous games like this. This one was the fastest ever to get a result.

The crush won the jump ball, but lost control of the ball almost immediately in the front court.  Dagnew dove to the floor and wrestled it away for the Reign, then hit Jayson Badua in the forecourt who drove the right wing and let loose with a ten footer from the right baseline under heavy defensive pressure. It went in, and the Reign bench and players on the court mobbed the diminutive point guard as the crowed roared and the Crush stood silent.

It does not win the league for the Reign, nor are the Crush eliminated, in fact, they remain in front of the Reign as the game for them officially goes down as a tie. As a result of all of this, the Thunder can win the league with a victory over the Reign in this Sunday’s tournament finale. If the Reign win, they are champs only if the Orange Crush are upset by the Flash in the third place game. If the Reign win and the Crush, win, then despite two wins over the Crush, the Reign would finish second and the OC would reign supreme.

It makes for some delicious agony as the clock ticks through the week for all three teams and their fans.

— The Thunder took care of their business with a “good enough” 20-15 win over the Flash, in a game in which they led almost the entire time.

Noah Houriani was a one man wrecking crew for the Thunder, scoring 6 to go with 4 rebs and 5 steals. Score four each for Arjun McIntosh and Coral Izen. The Flash had a ridiculous 46-19 advantage in rebounding but could not turn that into enough points. Chris Rhee and Shawn Sikder were best for the Flash, and Julian Bao grabbed 9 rebounds. Joe and Ben Farzam teamed up for 14 rebounds between ‘em.

— In the “B” tournament semi finals, pitting teams 5-8 against each other over two weekends, the Demons finally got on the winning side of the standings board, pulling off an 180-17 upset of the Rebels. Sasha Yansen hit two free throws after the game ended to draw the Rebs back into a tike, but Kate Beckerman made one of her two to win it for the Demons.  Luna was again unstoppable, scoring 9 in the win. The Petros boys, Nathan and Adi split 8 points. Amir Jahromi led the Rebs with half a dozen points.

— The Ducks poured it on the Hurricanes 34-26 in the other half of the bracket, using good games from Dom Kajota (8) and Lorenzo Stabilini (9 and 15 rebounds) to run away. Alejandro Poza had 4 with 9 boards to go with ‘em. The two Jakes—Burrows and Blumenthal—each scored 4.

Ariel Aframian (5) ., Dash Hansford (6) and Abel Antal (6 and 12 rebounds) led the Canes.


The Bantams, of course, due to the size of the league (10 teams) play a full and true round robin schedule, and only by luck would have a showdown type game at the end. As it turns out, they play their final games this coming Saturday, and only two teams still hold out hope of a championship.

Both the Lakers and Bulls stand at 7 wins and 1 loss. Problem for the Bulls is that their loss is TO the Lakers, so if they end up tied, the Lakers will win the league based on that result. But hope springs eternal, as the Bulls know that the Lakers loss is to another lower ranked team, so anything is possible.

Both these teams play teams this week that are 4-4 in the middle of the pack. The Bulls go first at 10:30 in the morning, so all they can do is try to beat the Clippers and hang around and wait to see what happens when the Lakers face the 4-4 Warriors.

— The Lakers picked up that 7th win last Saturday afternoon, topping the Megaladons 25-17, blowing open a 10-10 tie after three quarters with an 11-4 run in the final 8 minutes. Eric Papazian, who continues to terrorize opponents at this level, scored four of his 7 in the final period as did Russell Ma, who ended up being high scorer with ten overall. Papazian also pulled down a mighty 17 rebounds to go with 5 assists, 7 steals, and three blocked shots. Ouch!

Jonah Houriani, Justin Tun and Evan Chang were best statistically for the Megs.

— In the only other two games in the division last weekend, the Thunder defeated the Beasts 19-12 and the Clippers edged the Panthers 19-18.

In the former, Darien Jones had 8 in the win: Matt Scholze 11 in the loss.

In the latter, Rowan Booher, Leo Mooney and Jace O’Brien all scored fourth quarter baskets to hold off the P’s, who were led by 9 from Gordon McLean.


The Major season comes down to a winner take all tournament, and league championship game this Saturday night at 6:40 between the Vipers and Lakers, two teams that have been heading towards this showdown all season. The Lakers had a chance to clinch the title this past Sunday night, and won their game, but lost a standings point and therefore that opportunity due to an unsportsmanlike technical foul.

If they win or tie this Sunday against a team they have already beaten twice this season, then they’ll be champs. But the loss of that one point opened the door for the Vipers, who can win it by one if they win this one game.

— In the first semi final, the Lakers pounded out a hard fought and contentious 45-32 win over the determined Blaze. Nasir Luna led the way as the Lakers did what they do most of the time—wear other teams down. Luna scored 21 to go with 12 rebounds, hitting an array of shots inside and out as well as sinking 5 of 6 free throws. Eli Levi played his usually fine supporting role to Luna, who will be moving on to play travel ball from here on out in anticipation of a great career ahead. Levi chipped in with 10 points, 9 boards and 6 steals, and Will Sheehy added 6 with 9 more rebounds.

The biggest difference in the game seemed to be defensively as the Lakers had a 14-2 advantage in steals.

Keegan Fleigner earned every bit of a triple double that had him scoring 10, and blocking ten shots to go with a monumental 25 rebounds.  Michael Hanasab added 8 for the Blaze.

— The Vipers had no appreciable trouble in disposing of the Streetdogs 48-37, behind 14 points and 22 rebounds from Ervin Broughton and a dozen more points from Zion Qurtman.  Dash Decker showed up in the second quarter for the Dogs and did what he could, in ringing up a 16-point game.


This week marks the end of regular season play. As mentioned, the Bantam Lakers can win the league if they take out the Warriors on Saturday at 12:50. If not, the Bulls, should they defeat the Clippers at 10:30 that morning, would take the golden ring.

The Major League title game is Saturday night at 6:40 featuring the Vipers and Lakers.

On Sunday, the Minor league closes things out with the third place and championship games at 12:50 and 2:00 pm, both games have meaning in the final outcome.

Then the rest of Sunday is dedicated to the parents vs kids games, with the Majors playing the staff and parents at 6:45.










— 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, 310-393-2721x 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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