WINTER SEASON OFF AND RUNNING WITH SUCCESSFUL OPENING DAY
MINOR LEAGUE SHOWS IT MAY BE A DOG FIGHT FROM THE VERY START
After a day full of final practices and scrimmages, 16 of the record-tying 30 teams that are playing winter league youth basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA got their seasons underway in fine fashion with a full slate of games this past Sunday, with only the single rookie game being anything but a tight and tense affair.
Veteran observers were particularly keen on following the Minor League scene from here on to see if future weekends are as tough as the four game set played on opening day. The other 14 teams will celebrate their first regular season games this coming weekend, the first on which we will see a full schedule played on back-to-back days this season.
Eight games down, 137 to go? We can hardly wait!
The Bantam League started it off and you can’t get any closer than a tie game to begin things the right way. That happened thanks to the post-game free throwing heroics of Grey Broderick, named the Y’s player of the week when he scored his only two points of the contest to lift the Wolves from a certain loss to a 10-10 deadlock against the Stars.
Kellen McDonough was the main man for the Wolves in regulation time, scoring 6. Five different Stars each had one basket to account for their scoring, including one from Landon Broihier, who celebrated his return to the Y league in his first career Bantam League game.
— Game two went to the Jaguars, who built a pretty good lead by half time of 8-2 and coasted to a 19-15 win over the Dragons. Kaden Friedman scored 6 in the win, with Cooper Kun netting 4 to go along with 11 rebounds. Max Lewis also played well. Kayra Sanar tossed in half a dozen for the Dragons.
— The Foxes pressure defense allowed them to build an 8-2 lead after three periods before going on to a 21-16 victory over the Rockets. James Cook, in his first ever Bantam game, and Charlie Miles split a dozen points, and TJ Turner grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds.
The Rockets’ Noah McLaurin had 5 steals.
The Rookie league had one game to brag about, and most of the bragging was done by the Hoopstars, a 19-11 winner over the Hawks. Lucas Kim was on fire in the first half scoring all 8 of his game high points. He also had 5 rebounds and a like number of steals. Felix Idell was consistent on both ends with good play, scoring 4, with 8 rebounds and 7 steals.
Koa Entsminger, playing in the league for the first time ever, scored a first-ever basket, while returner Victoria McNary did the same for the Hawks.
The Minor League had four games decided by a total of 12 points, and the first three games were in doubt right until the end.
Prior to the opening of the season, because of work conflicts, the coach of the Rush had to change teams with the coach of the Zips, something that had never before been done in this league’s modern era (back to 21011).
So in the first game of the season, new coach Barry of the Zips, after practicing with his team only twice, helped lead them to a 19-16 win over the Thunder.
The Thunder showed good team speed in staying in the game throughout. Shawn Sikder dropped in a bank shot with 3:30 to go in the third quarter to give the Zips a 13-12 lead, then just before the sub break, found Lincoln Barnes who hit from the left elbow to make it a three point game, which in this one was a large lead.
Right out of the break, though, Leo Sikora, making the jump up from Bantam to minor, scored his second basket at this level on a feed from Isaac Samy to bring the Thunder back to within 1. Shortly thereafter Sikora stole the ball and went in for a length of the court drive and layup, but he missed and newcomer Jahrid Longsworth (game high 8 points) followed it back up and in to put the Thunder up 16-15 with two minutes to go in the third. It would be their last hurrah, as they would not score again in regulation time.
In the fateful fourth, Travis Waters (8 rebounds) found Sikder at the end of a fast break and the Zips were back on top… to stay. Two post-gram free throws provided extra comfort after some scary moments late in the game. Sikder was player of the game to be sure, with 7 points and a whopping 19 rebounds.
Hunter Esposito-Doi added 4 points, three blocks and 8 boards in victory, and Jayson Badua played well.
GAME OF THE WEEK
— Game two of the four was a one-point affair. The Jedi were tied the score at 12-12 using a 15-5 offensive rebounding advantage in the second quarter alone to get back into the game after trailing early against the Rhinos, who were without rebounding star Yowhannes Dagnew.
After a flurry of steals late in the half by both teams, Asser Tewodros hit London Coleman in the lane for a 10 foot bank shot to make it 12-12 at the intermission.
Tewodros’ shot from the right baseline opened second half scoring a minute in to the third quarter, and Weston Keslow buried a jumper a minute and a half later to up the Jedi lead to four. Coral Izen got in on the act with a shot from the left elbow to make it 18-12 with 4:57 left in the third quarter and it started to look like maybe it would get away from the Rhinos.
Just before the sub break, Jaiden Gohill scored his second ever Y basket, to make it an 18-14 Jedi lead. Coleman found Toby Gestetner to up it once again to 6 a minute later, and the Jedi went on to build the lead to 28-16 from that point to blow the game open and pout it on ice once and for all, right?
The Rhinos chipped away at the lead, and when Keean Stoll, who had a marvelous outing scoring 15 with 9 rebounds and 11 steals, barely missing a triple double, hit a driving layup, his team was back to within four at 28-24 with 2:15 to play.
Down on the other end, Sebastian Fouquette scored what would turn out to be the game winning points. Stoll hit a three pointer to close the gap to 30-27, and even though he missed another three later on, his team, trailing by three at the final buzzer, did have a 6-0 free throw advantage when the game ended. They could only connect on two of them–the Jedi obviously using the Force to their advantage in this case.
Dean Phelan played a nice game for the R’s, while Izen and Gestetner split 12 in the win.
— The Rush, led by new head man MJ, managed to win their game as well, 25-23 over the Orange Stars.
The first half was a tale of two quarters. The Rush built and 8-0 lead a minute into the second quarter, but were outscored 11-0 the rest of the period and trailed at halftime. Then the Rush won the third 7-2. Nehemiah Misfen drilled a 12 foot shot from the right side on a pass from Sash Yansen to trim the Stars lead to 1 point.
The Rush them took the lead when Jake Ronn hustled for his own missed shot and put it back in. Armaan Kohli scored just before the sub break to put the Orange Stars back on top.
Just after action resumed, the Rush got the first of two breaks. A long pass inside was off line, but hit an Orange Star player in the head and shoulder while they weren’t looking and bounced right to Misfen who promptly put it in for the Rush lead, 14-13 with 3 minutes to go in the third.
In the fourth, Misfen hit Yansen with a very nice assist on the Rush’s first possession to make it 16-13. Yansen picked up where he left off in the fall season, scoring 13 to go with 15 rebounds, a nice double-double.
Then, the other lucky break, in this reporter’s opinion. Kohli tried to save the ball to one of his OS teammates under the Rush basket, but it went right to Yansen instead for a five point lead. Levi Title cut the lead to three again with four minutes left.
Dash Hansford knocked down a 13 foot bank shot to bring the Stars supporters out of their seats, as their team trailed by only one again, but on a nice inbounds pass, Yansen scored again to keep his team just enough in front to make the difference.
Jared Oliver scored to make it 20-19 in this cat-and-mouse affair, but time ran out on the comeback bid.
Oliver had 16 rebounds to lead his team.
— Finally the “blowout” was a huge five-point victory for the Redhawks over the Hornets. Well it seemed that way, but it was really quite a good game. The deed was done, as we look back, with an 8-0 third quarter run for the winners to put the game effectively out of reach, turning an 8-5 Hornets lead into a 13-8 deficit.
Kenneth Kun then ran a play to perfection, getting a pass on the wing, dumping in down low to Alex Wray who turned and banked in a shot from the low block to make it 15-8 Redhawks.
Eric Papazian, last season’s Bantam League MVP scored his first Minor League bucket to finally stop the bleeding, but it was too little, and too late for the Hornets.
Joey Little was player of the game for his 7 point, 5 steal effort in victory. Clark Elliot added for the team RH.
Gorden McLean made a nice Minor League debut scoring 6 for the Hornets, while Papazian grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked a resounding 6 shots.
This weekend, the 6 Major League teams get into the action on Saturday morning, and the rest of the Rookie and Bantam League teams will see action.
On a sad note, long time coach JJ Little has passed away at the age of 62 this past weekend. He coached in the Y league for 8 seasons, winning 60 percent of his games and leading teams to three championships. A man with an infectious spirit, he also was generous in helping kids who could not otherwise play in our league and also go to Camp Big Bear do so. Plans to honor him at the year-end banquet in June are being made.
His son, Joey, plays in our league for the Minor League Redhawks.
Alumni corner: I think it should be pointed out that some of our former players are now doing quite well in high school basketball. There are others who have gone on to play other sports in high school as well.
Locally, at Santa Monica HS, Nikka Ghassemi has made the girl’s varsity team, the first from our league in the modern era to do so. She is joined on the JV team by Davian Schroer, Rachel Kim, Siri Norgaard, and Kaitlyn Koch, and on the freshman team by Chloe Kaufman.
For the Boys, Gio Alvarez Cueva is playing underclass ball for Crespi. At SamoHi, Trent Schroer is on the sophomore team, with Sammy Kohn and Nicki Reiterer starting for the frosh squad, and Andrew Daouda, Drew Gelfand and Ben Turkel on that same team.
Try to get out and see some local high school action with your players and show them what the future may hold in store for them. For schedule information go to Maxpreps.com.
SOME SPECIAL NOTES:
— There is an information table with hard copies of this newsletter THE HOOP each week, along with other important information.
— 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! But please do NOT coach your child from the sidelines. When you do it is likely they will be getting different instructions from their coach. Encourage them, but do not coach them.
— 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. Never, ever talk to them after games, other than to thank them, or tell them what a good job they did.
— 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.
— NO FOOD OF ANY KIND IS ALLOWED AT ANY TIME IN THE GYM, AND ONLY WATER BOTTLES WITH LIDS THAT CLOSE TIGHTLY ARE ALLOWED IN THE GYM.
— 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 email@example.com, 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.