The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 22, Issue 6




Jared Oliver , out with a broken arm, acts as player/coach in Orange Stars’ first win of the season.

It’s getting to be that time of the season where the contenders start to separate from the pretenders, and we get down to the nitty gritty in the second half when the real fun begins. Three teams, one in the Rookie (Splash), Minor (Redhawks) and Major (Leopards) still have perfect records, and only one Bantam team (Stars) have yet to taste defeat after last week’s action in the 20-18 Winter youth basketball league at the Santa Monica YMCA.

In the opener on last Saturday, the Minors started things off with an exciting and well played, hard fought tie game between the Zips and Rush. This is the know may recall that these are the two teams that before the season needed to change coaches, so they were working against what would have originally been their teams. It turned out to be a dead even draw! How very interesting!

For a while, it didn’t look like that, as the Zips built up a 23-16 into the third quarter sub break. But back-to-back baskets by Jake Ronn (8 points) and Nehemiah Misfen (6) brought the Rush right back into the game.

Sasha Yansen hit from the top of the key with a buck 59 left in the third to get the Zips to within one, then Misfen banked one in from the left wing to put the Zips on top for the first time since it was 2-0.

Yansen’s left wing shot was the first and only field goal of the fourth quarter for either team, leaving the lead 26-23 for the Zips after regulation time. Shawn Sikder hit one and Travis Waters two free-throws for the Rush post game, and Sikder’s second to last toss went in and out or they would have won it.

Guy Sikora of the Stars shoots over some opponents in action last weekend. Sikora was the Bantam League player of the week.

Dom Boccella pulled down 10 rebounds for the Z-men, while Owen Boelke had 13 for the Rush.  Ronn had four steals and Emi Slesaransky grabbed 9 boards and had 4 blocks.

— The Jedi defeated an undermanned Orange Stars squad, which is without star guard Jared Oliver for the majority of the rest of the season with a broken arm in a cast. They were also down four other players and played the entire game with only 5 players for all 32 minutes.  

The Jedi beat them 25-14. Asser Tewodros scored 6, Weston Keslow and nice, complimentary 5, and Taylor Chen led the way with ten rebounds. Coral Izen played a nice overall game in the win.

Ande Daly was best for the Stars, and scored 6 including a wild, over the head toss that went in! Not regularly advised, but fun when it works. Levi Title scored 4 with 13 rebounds, same number as had Dash Hansford. Tyler Xie played well as did Bella Mussi-Nelson. It’s tough to play all 32, they all deserve the apologies and appreciation of their team mates.

— The Minors continued with a full schedule of four league games on Sunday amidst picture day.

In the first of the set of three, the Orange Stars turned right around and won a thriller from the Rhinos in a battle of winless teams going in, 23-20.  

The Stars took the lead at 13-12 with 6:45 left in quarter number three on a Bella Mussi-Nelson steal and end-to-end layup. At the other end though, Amir Jahromi, who gathered in a league leading 21 rebounds, put his team back up by one at the 5:14 mark.

Keean Stoll, who finished with 8 points to tie Jahromi for best on the Rhinos, scored back-to-back field goals to make it a 5 point cushion at 18-13, but had to leave for another assignment after the end of this period.

He also had multiple rebounds, assists and steals and was very disruptive on defense.  The Stars took full advantage of his absence in the fourth.

First, Natasha Kohli grabbed a rebound, and went inside-out with it, finding Levi Title who was able to put it away with 7:30 remaining.

Kohli scored on a follow to get her team back to within one point at 5:45 to go on the clock.

Then Dean Phelan hit from the left elbow and the Rhinos led again by three, before Kohli made it a one point game in the final minute. Her scoring total was ten with nine rebounds was the Stars most effective player.

The rest of the scoring was done during post-game free throws, and the Stars were hot, hitting 4 of their 6 for the win, as opposed to the Rhinos 0-3.

Credit Kohli, Ande Daly and Armaan Kohli with the makes that won the game in the end.


— The Jedi kept their championship hopes alive, delivering a 26-25 win over the Thunder to move their record to 3-1 and drop the Thunder to 2-3 in an important battle.

When Matthew Hanasab dropped in his only basket of the day with 6:03 to go in the fourth quarter, it continued what had been for the most part of the day, a see-saw affair that made the score 17-16 in favor of his Thunder.

It seemed to be a matter of whether or not either team could get a run going, for basketball games are most often won on those events. And it was the Jedi to put it together for a short yet meaningful time right after that.

Asser Tewodros knocked down a left baseline jumper with 5:30 to go to put the Jedi back in front. After a Thunder miss, Sebastian Fouquette hit a bucket off of an assist from London Coleman at the 5:08 mark to make it a three point lead, which was upped to five when Coleman made a follow shot from the left side of the lane heading into the sub break.

While it wasn’t over by a long shot, it turned out to be too big a mountain to climb in a tight game such as this.

Zayd Al-Shawe started the attempted comeback with a free throw line jump shot out of the sub break to bring the score to 22-19 in favor of the Jedi.

Leo Sikora found Jahrid Longsworth with a long pass that he turned into two points to trim the lead back down to just one at 2:27 to go in the game.

But a Weston Keslow hit a three point dagger, his only basket of the game, which wiped out most of the Thunder gains over the past few minutes, and made it a more comfortable (for the Jedi) 25-21 score.

Alex Brick made a follow up shot inside of a minute to go and it was 25-23 with 30 seconds left.

The Thunder called a timeout they did not have, and were assessed a technical foul. The free throws for that after the game were missed, but the Jedi were awarded the ball out of bounds. That also did not mater, as Adi Petros stole the inbounds pass and after his missed shot, Longsworth put it back in to tie the game heading to post-game free throws.

The Thunder could not win as they had none, so all they cold do was watch as Tewodros hit one of two to give the Jedi the hard fought victory.  

He ended up with 7, and high point honors for the game, shared by Petros.  Longsworth had 6 as did Coral Izen, who seemed always to find the right time to drop one of her shots in during a torrid second quarter. Coleman led all rebounders with a dozen, while Longsworth had 10.

— The Redhawks are still on top of the Minor League heap after their 25-19 win over the Rush.  Joey Little was on fire, hitting two three point shots en route to a 12-point game to go along with 5 steals and 6 rebounds in the win. Clark Elliott added 6. Sasha Yansen, held scoreless from the field, a real rarity these days, did drive to the basket often enough to shoot 12 and make 5 free throws, finishing just behind Jacob Burrows for high point man for the Rush. Owen Boelke grabbed a dozen errant shots off of the glass.

After a Rush rush had given them the lead at 10-9 late in the third quarter, Burrows three pointer from the left corner gave the Redhawks a lead they would not give up right at the end of the period. Little popped one in to begin the fourth from the left wing and it was 15-10, then he hit another, extra long one on a pass from Elliott and into the sub break it felt like it was over at 18-10. It was.

— The Hornets served notice that they mean to challenge for the title when all is said and done a month from now, when they posted a 45-33 beat down of the Zips.

“Did they ever miss a shot?,” moaned Zips head man Barry Hendrix in his post game interview. “That’s a really good team.”

Good indeed. In league history in the modern era, we have had one kid go from one league to the next and then do it again another season down the line. The Hornets have, arguably TWO candidates to equal that feat, in Gorden McLean and Eric Papazian. Both toiled last season in the Bantam League and are showing weekly that they might be too good for this spot as well.

McLean scored 14 and had 8 rebounds, and while Papazian’s point total wasn’t as high (8), he did grab 15 boards and have 3 assists and 8 steals. There is another in the mix who can’t be ignored—ever. Aayan Lakhani scored ten in the rout that was complete by half time. Abel Antal was outstanding as well, scoring 7 and creating shot opportunities for teammates all game long.  

As a matter of fact, it was 18-2 late in the first quarter, to give you an idea of the dominance set forth by those with stingers.

Back to the drawing board for the Zips, who managed to get decent games out of Hunter Esposito-Doi, Travis Waters (who hit two three pointers in as many chances) and others, but overall, not enough scoring, and certainly not good enough on the defensive end.  

The Hornets have put it all together since losing earlier this season. They have four players averaging 6 points a game, and are almost a lock for the upper division tournament coming up after two more games.


The Rookies took up the cause next on Saturday, with the Hoopstars opening that set with a 20-12 win over the Bulls. They held the Bulls scoreless through three — that’ll usually get you the “W”. Lucas Kim and Felix Idell each dropped in four points, same as did Monika Diaz and Felix Idell. The Stars outrebounded the Bulls 31-18.

Bulls leaders were Georgia Rolph and Sadie Stiehm, with standout play from Henry Brown. 

— The Trojans made short work of the Hawks, winning 16-10, in a game where the Hawks were held scoreless for the first three quarters before Leo Epstein and Elliot Ma finally broke through. Epstein grabbed 14 rebounds for the cold shooting Hawks. For Ma, it was his first career basket.

Noland Piippo, Theo Richards and Gavin O’Brien were the leaders for the Players of Troy, and Jacopo Stabilini played well. The Trojans had a better than 2-to-1 advantage in steals.

— The Dolphins played stout defense in their 8-2 regulation time win over the Vikings.  Alex Zelenovic continued her hot play of late scoring 4 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Tiam Baraghoush played well.

Miles Boelke scored the Vikes only bucket and Axel Trussler had 7 steals for them. The Vikes held a 19-9 advantage in steals and 5-1 in blocked shots but could not make that turn into points to help their cause.

The Dolphins played the entire game with only five players. The Vikings were without usual scoring threat Misha Lakhani.

— On Sunday in the opener of the 8-game slate, the Splash remained perfect and in first place through four games, winning a lopsided showdown with the Meerkats 10-2 in regulation time. The plan was to slow down Theo Haberli, and for the most part the Meerkats did that, although he did score 9 of his team’s points. Problem was, then, that if you don’t score more than one basket, it becomes pretty hard to win.  

That fell to Wally Levitt and no one else. Jarvis Wakefield had 15 rebounds and he and Haberli split ten steals. Harlan Mansfield scored the other lone Splash point and chipped in 8 rebounds on a busy morning.


In the Bantam League on Saturday, the Rockets (including some helpers) defeated a team from Culver Palms YMCA 10-3 at Culver Middle School, to keep the Santa Monica Y teams unbeaten at 3-0 on the young season there.

— Back at home there were three Bantam League games to be decided. In the opener the Foxes outsmarted the Wolves 25-12, behind a ten-point barrage from Rowan Booher. Leo Moooney added 5 with 10 rebounds and 5 steals as he continues to make a play for promotion. TJ Turner played well.

It was still a game at halftime, but the Foxes pulled away with consistent play in the second half. Kellen McDonough and Grey Broderick were best for the Wolves.

In a strange statistical anomaly, the Foxes scored one more point in each period than the one before: 3-4-5-6-7!

— The Typhoon, without at least two of their standout players, still managed to defeat the Jaguars, 23-21. Max Baracy and Logan Cappiccille combined to score 14 with Oscar Hughes and Mohamed Jahromi each added 4.  Jahromi and Cappiccille split 27 rebounds.

Ronan Hill did his best to keep the Jags around, scoring 7 with 9 rebounds, and Max Lewis and Cooper Kun scored 4 a piece.

The Typhoon played the entire game with just five players.

— The Stars are the only unbeaten team in the Bantam League nearing the half way pole, as a 6-2 third quarter run did the trick in a 19-13 win over the Scorpions. Guy Sikora, aiming to join brother Leo in the Minors next season, continued his good play, scoring 8 with 7 rebounds and 6 steals for the winners.

Asher Zaczepinksi led the Scorps with 4 points, and Ben Van Bilderbeek, while only scoring a single basket, did have a good overall game again.


Finally, but never forgotten, the Majors got into action with the final three games of the weekend, led off by the Warriors 42-31 triumph over the Tarheels. Gaspar Antal continues to be a terror inside, grabbing 24 rebounds.

Not that long ago, Antal was not much of a scorer, but that can no longer be said, as he poured in 18 points to lead all scorers in the game.

Josh Birnbach played his best game at this level scoring 9 with 7 rebounds, and Milyon Mitchell continues to improve his game at this level, dropping in 5 with 9 rebounds.

For the Tarheels, Evan Daghighian has found his footing finally in the Majors, and scored another big 16 points spaced out over all four quarters. Julian Bao played his best game in the Majors to date for the Heels. Bruno Picazo had five assists before fouling out with a minute to play.

You’ll not be surprised that with Antal leading the way, the Warriors had an incredible 66-31 rebound advantage!

— The Fire handed the Mavericks, playing without one of the league favorites for MVP Josh Kaplan, their first loss in a rugged and physical affair, 44-35.

When Xailoh Hermosillo hit a three pointer with 2:18 to go in the second quarter, it gave the Mavericks an 18-16 lead and some hope that perhaps they’d be able to hold off the upset bid, but that was not to be as they fell behind 23-19 by half time and never were able to catch up.

They did make small runs every so often in the second half, but the strong and timely shooting of the Fire and their sturdy defense at the right time was the difference maker.

Overall, 27 fouls were called in the game, and three players were fouled out before the final buzzer sounded. One of those, Gian Luca Tosonotti, led the winners with a ten point/ten rebound double double. He fouled out with 7 seconds left in the third quarter, giving the Mavericks hope of a comeback that wasn’t to be. Quest Miller and Keenan Bryant added seven each, and the Fire held a 46-36 rebounded advantage. Madden Vestman may well have played his best Major League game as he gets used to the rigors at this level.  

Michael Hanasab also scored ten, albeit in a losing effort, and Hermosillo finished with 8.  Keaton Templeman and Griffinn Pine had busy stat lines for the Mavericks, who look forward to having Kaplan on the floor next time these two get together, for with him, they are a much better team on both ends of the floor. Timosha Moncher had a nice stat line as well, but his usually reliable outside shot was off today.

Despite the coaches being overly “chippy” with the game officials, that didn’t spill out onto the floor as the players were praised post game by the league director for focusing their tenacious efforts on the game at hand and played hard and all-out throughout.  

— The Leopards were barely challenged in their 47-33 toasting of the Bearcats. Leading 22-13 at half time, they saw that lead whittled down to 3 in the first two minutes of the second half by and exited BC team, but by the end of three it was back up to 8 and a 15-7 fourth quarter sealed the deal.

Matt Golubitsky produced another big game, scoring 11 inside points.  Jack Simon got player of the game honors for his best ever showing at this level, scoring 8 with 7 rebounds. Dash Wasson was his usual team leader self and just about everyone played pretty well.

Nifty Tewodros did what he could for the Cats, scoring 15 and Estevan Rodriguez had 8 but cooled off after a torrid start to the first quarter and didn’t shoot as much as the game wore on.

With the win, the Leopards took over sole possession of first place in the big League.


If you are looking for top flight competition this weekend, you might have to strain your eyes a little bit. The only we’ve found that we’re fond of based on the standings is a Saturday 2 p.m. Bantam matinee featuring the 3-0-1 Stars against the 2-1-1 Jaguars. We are sure there will be some fun game results to talk about, but going in, there ain’t much to look at.

Well, at least it’s picture day Sunday for the Rooks and Bantamites.










— 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 this email to anyone you’d like.

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