Henry Brown of the Bulls moves upcourt as Vaughn Elliot of the Splash looks on.

It is felt that a good start to a season gives a team the best chance to win down the stretch. They don’t have to play “catch up” with teams ahead of them, instead watching the others battle to see who will emerge as the challengers to their throne. Such has the case been made especially strongly by the Minor League Redhawks and Zips, who became the first teams to reach the 2-0 level in the early stages of the Winter 2018 youth basketball league at the Santa Monica YMCA.

The Bantam Rockets also have two wins, but have played three games, so suffered one loss along the way, while seven other teams have yet to taste defeat through the second weekend.


The league office has two special reminders. First, several players have yet to turn in needed paperwork. Some of those are now ineligible to play in further games (but may continue to practice with their teams), while others still have at least another week to turn their emergency forms in. Those forms can be had in the gym office in the metal basket.

Next, while we realize that Winter League has just begun, it is a short turnaround to Spring League and as such, registration forms for returning parents and families who are playing in this current Winter season only, can be picked up on the information table on game days this weekend and beyond.

Those same forms are attached to this email but MAY NOT BE TURNED IN until this Saturday. Any forms turned in early will be thrown out.  

You may ONLY register in person prior to February 7, when registration opens on line and to the general public. Once we reach 280 players, everyone after that will be placed in a waiting list. Keep in mind we have reached capacity for each of our last 5 seasons, and expect to do so again prior to the end of February.

Players playing this winter do NOT need to go through evaluations again (you only need to do that if you miss a season), and again, you may request to be on teams with friends (it does not always happen) and choose your practice days (providing you give us more than one choice).

In short, if you plan on playing, I suggest getting your forms in early or you run the risk of being left out.


Asser Tewodros of the Jedi uses a coming screen to go around Hornet Gorden McLean. The Scorpions pulled out the win.

The Major League got its season going with three early games this past weekend, and frankly, all three games were rather dreadful from a competitive standpoint.  

— The Fire topped the Bearcats 32-23 in regulation time, made closer by post-game contest free throws. After a close first quarter the Fire consistently pulled away leading by as many as 21 at one time. Quest Miller and Keenan Bryant split 13 points, and Gian Luca Tosonotti had 13 rebounds in the win. Bruno Bernacchi led the Bearcats, who were outrebounded as a team 42-25, with 7 points.

Every player attended and played and scored at lest one basket for the Fire.

— The Mavericks blew out the Tarheels 52-37, using strong outings from Josh Kaplan, who had a nice looking 15 point/23 rebound double-double to start the season, and a dozen points from Timosha Moncher, who hit a pair of three pointers. Michael Hanasab was just as good, scoring 12 with ten rebounds. That’s three players in double figures, and when that happens you know that team will be tough to beat.

The Mavs owned a 47-32 rebounding mark over their opponent who got double figures in scoring from Evan Daghighian (10) and Bruno Picazo (13) and 14 rebounds from Ariadni Potamianos.

Avaiel Haroonian scored his first YMCA league bucket for the Mavs. Julian Bao had a career-high 6 points for the Heels.

— The Leopards cruised to an easy 44-32 win over the Warriors in their season lidlifter, when Jaden Fishman and Luca Bainbridge each scored 9, and Mat Golubitisky and Sebastian Ramirez added a half dozen each. The game was over by half time, when the Leopards led by 18.

Sam Rubin was best for SMW scoring 12, while Gapsar Antal pulled down 17 rebounds. Connor Sullivan had a solid Major League debut scoring 7.


In the Minor League this week:

— As mentioned, the Redhawks won on Saturday to boost their early season mark to 2-0 with a 29-16 pounding of the Orange Stars. Clark Elliot hit for 12 points in the win, and was joined by Joey Little’s 8 and 7 steals. Sherwin Shahrabi and Joe Farzam each had ten rebounds, as their winning team out boarded the Stars 46-31.

Natasha Kohli led a cold shooting OS team with 7 points.

— The Zips played the last game of the weekend and made it interesting, as they hit some crucial post-game free-throws to eke out a win over the Rhinos. Travis Waters led the winners with 9.


The Rockets Leo Eastwood guards Scorpion Ben Van Bilderbeek, the Santa Monica Y Player of the Week.

— Earlier in the day on Sunday, the Hornets held off the Jedi 28-22 in a good one.

After a nip-and-tuck first half that left the Hornets up 3, Coral Izen opened the scoring for Jedi in the first minute with her only basket of the game. Asser Tewodros did the same about 45 seconds later prompting a Hornet timeout with the Jedi all of a sudden in front by one.

London Coleman’s long pass to a streaking Taylor Chen who laid it in to put the Jedi up by their biggest lead to that point, 16-13 with 7:26 to go in the final period.

Aayan Lakhani found room to drive from the right wing to draw his squad back to within one at the 6:25 mark on the scoreboard clock, then hit a shot from downtown on the right wing just a minute later and the Hornets were back on top.

Chen’s shot from the right elbow swung things back in the Jedi’s favor on the “Rogue One” play just before the final sub break. Adam Smiley then put the Jedi up three as he converted a nice pass from Tewodros and things were looking good for the Jedi.  

But the Force was strong in the Hornets on this morning, and for the rest of the game it was all theirs! Eric Papazian (6 points, 10 rebounds, 8 steals) dropped one in to tighten the game back to a one point affair, then followed an Abel Antal (7 points) missed shot to put the Hornets on top to stay.

Papazian then blocked a Tewodros shot and found Gorden McLean for a layup. McLean would score again moments later to put the game out of reach. Hew finished with 5 blocked shots. Tewodros led all Jedi scorers with 8 points.

— The Thunder rolled to an easy 21-10 regulation win over the Rush, leading all the way. Dalton White seemed to pick the best times of the game, just when things might get interesting, to drop in a shot to quiet the Rush back down. He finished with 9 well placed points and player of the game honors. Jahrid Longsworth grabbed 11 rebounds in the win.  

Sasha Yansen was best for the Rush, but only one other player scored even a basket for them. Toghrul Aghayev scored his first Minor League basket in this game.  

The final four games played on Saturday last were Bantam league affairs.


— A free-throw from the unlikeliest hero of the day, Max Wilson, lifted the Rockets over the Scorpions 9-8.

Wilson was recently asked and refused re-assignment to the Rookie League, and the first-year player, who had previously shown some troubles even reaching the basket with his tries, managed to get a shot off in the third quarter on which he was fouled leading to his charity tosses after the game. The first was taken from mid-range and was wide, but the second, from a step closer in, somewhat miraculously rolled around and dropped in!

It was a ragged first half that ended in a 2-2 tie that broken open, if only barely, in the third quarter. Marko Zelenovic netted a 12 footer from the right baseline to give the Scorpions the lead two minutes into the second half. Ryan Chambers tied it back up 90 seconds later before Antonio Rodriguez followed his own missed outside shot and scored from closer in with less than a minute to play in the third to give the Rockets a 6-4 advantage.

Noah McLaurin made it 8-4 after a steal with a stop-and-pop from the free-throw line on the Rockets first possession of the second half.

Ben Van Bilderbeek (15 rebounds and 7 steals) hit two baskets in a row, the first from the left elbow with 1:30 to play in the game, the other to tie it with 52 seconds remaining from 5 feet out on the left wing after rebounding his own missed shot in the frantic final minute.

That’s how it ended until Wilson did his thing.

— The Typhoon had no trouble disposing of the Dragons, 24-14, in regulation time, breaking open a 10-10 halftime deadlock with a high scoring second half to go with some solid defense that held the Dragons to just one basket in each of the last to periods.

Parker Cappiccille scored all but four of his game high 16 points in the second half to lead his team to victory. Dagmawi Ayele grabbed 12 rebounds. Three Dragons, Jaden Sujan, his brother Rohan, and Kayra Sanar, all scored twice from the field.

Oscar Hughes scored for the Typhoon. Usually that does not make news, but Hughes, who is in his 11th season, has a grand total of four baskets in his career, and seemed so startled by the occurrence, he was smiling as he ran back down the floor.

After a successful Rookie League career, Aiden Lin got his first Bantam League basket, also a Typhoonian effort.

— The Foxes nudged the Stars 14-13 on three post-game free-throws from Jace O’Brien and one from Guy Sikora.

Ryker Deege of the Foxes scored his first career basket at the Y and a nice pass from Leo Mooney.

— The Wolves are 2-for-2 in the tie game department, getting their second straight such result and remaining undefeated and winless at the same time, with a 11-11 draw vs the Jaguars.

The Wolves led 11-6 with 3:42 to go in the game, when Kaden Friedman (7 points) of the Jags made a layup. The Cooper Kun, who played a very solid game throughout, found Max Lewis for two of his four points to make it 11-10 with 1:40 left. Friedman’s free-throw to complete a three-point play tied it up after the game.

The Wolves held a decided advantage in rebounding (34-21) but it did not play out to very many points on the board. Benny Arroyo made his first Bantam League basket in this game.  

— The Typhoon and Scorpions each got to play a second game of the weekend on Sunday, and each got a different result as the Scorpions won it 13-8 in regulation time. It was 11-4 at half-time and the Scorpions played well enough in the second half to see it through.

Van Bilderbeek, the Y’s player of the week for all divisions, had another high output game, scoring 8 this time with 16 rebounds and 7 steals. Asher Zaczepinski and Marko Zelenovic also played quite well.

After his 16 point outing the day before, Cappiccille was held quiet by the Scorps, scoring just one basket, one less than teammate Ayele. 


Down in the Rookie League, Sunday found 6 of the 8 teams in the division putting in the work for the first time on opening day for these 6.

— The Meerkats scored a 12-8 win over the Vikings behind Cam Pariser’s four-point, 7 rebound and 5 steal effort. Fourth quarter baskets from Samantha Juarez and Owen Roberts, his first ever, were the difference makers.

Jenson Montague, Misha Lakhani and Miles Boelke played well from the Vikings.

— The Splash held the Bulls scoreless in a 6-2, regulation time win. How can you be scoreless and still score points you ask? When the other team scores a basket for you in your basket by accident.

Henry Brown and Michael Mikhail were good for the Bulls. Theo Haberli was player of the game for the Splash with 4 points, 6 rebounds, 7 steals and four blocked shots. Nice game, kid!

— The Trojans took down the Dolphins 18-11, led by Noland Piippo’s 6 points and 6 steals. Gavin O’Brien picked up his second ever hoop. Erol Besincioglu grabbed 6 steals for the Dolphins and Miles Franklin played well.


This week has another full slate of games on both weekend days.

On Saturday morning, first thing out of the gate, the two teams at 2-0 the Minor Zips and Redhawks will get together to try and untie things. Both teams not only have quick turnarounds, but both have their hearts set on going to 4-0 after another game for each against other opponents on Sunday.

The Rookie Splash and Hoopstars, both 1-0, meet in an early season showdown on Saturday at 12:50.

The Bantam Rockets (2-1) and Stars (1-0-1) play the feature game in that division on Sunday morning at 11:40. The Wolves will try not to tie the Dragons an hour before that.

In the Bigs, the Fire and Leopards, both winners in game one, dance on Saturday at 4:20.

Should be another entertaining weekend.










— 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.  


— 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 three-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 it to anyone you’d like.

Learn More