The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 22, Issue 7





Member of the Splash share a light moment before clinching a top Rookie tournament seed. Young coach Xailoh Hermosillo looks on in the background.

Post-season tournament play beckons, and teams are already punching their tickets to the various brackets as the 2018 Winter Youth Basketball League at the Santa Monica YMCA hits the far turn before heading for home.

Several teams have secured coveted “A” tournament bracket berths already, but none yet knows precisely where they will finish their round robin competitions. At least in the Major League, those answers will come at the end of this weekend.  

One thing’s for sure, now is the time to play well to ensure a good spot—one that could lead to a league championship when it’s time for March Madness in two weeks.


Game action as the Samo Stars do battle in a winning effort last Saturday at Culver Middle School.

All of the Bantam League teams had a very busy, two-game weekend, including pictures on Sunday.

On Saturday, the four league games came down thusly:

— The Scorpions scored a single basket in each quarter, and it proved to be enough to hold off the cold shooting Wolves, 13-9. Asher Zaczepinksi led the way for the Scorps with 4 and Ben Van Bilderbeek led the team in rebounds and steals.

— The Typhoon slipped past the Rockets 7-6 in regulation time, on Parker Cappicille’s post-game free-throw from having been fouled in the act of shooting in the third quarter. It was a close, low-scoring game throughout, evidenced by the 2-0 count at halftime, in favor of the Rockets who scored on Ryan Chambers basket in the first period.

Aidan Lin (9 rebounds) and Mohamad Jahromi tallied their only in-game buckets in the third for the winners, and were countered by a solo field goal from Joseph Zak, who had four steals defensively.

Cappiccille and Saul Sene swapped baskets in the final frame, leaving the game tied before P-Capp untied it for the Typhoon, who played without strong inside man Dag Ayele. Even with that, the Typhoon held a mighty 38-19 rebounding advantage for the game.

Antonio Rodriguez played well enough to mention for the Rockets; Asher Eng for the ‘Phoon (For those who like such, research shows that is the first time in world journalism history that Typhoon has been shortened to “‘Phoon”).

— The Foxes did enough to come out on top over the Dragons, who could only manage a single basket, that from Alex Ma in the second quarter. Let’s keep in mind now, the Dragons were without leading scorer Kayra Sanar and defensive specialist Jake Kazerani.

For the Foxes, James Cook scored 4 and TJ Turner 3 (plus 7 rebounds and 4 steals) and Charlie Miles led the game with 6 steals. Leo Mooney grabbed 8 rebounds, one fewer than the Dragon’s Rohan Sujan in a somewhat ragged contest.

Looking for another reason the Foxes won? Look no further than a 23-7 margin to the good in steals on defense.

— The Stars stayed on top, posting an important victory over the Jaguars in a battle of the teams going head to head with the best record on this day in this division. Final was 16-14 in regulation time as the Jags made it interesting after time expired hitting 4 of their 6 post-game free-throws before falling by those two misses.

After being down 12-4 through three quarters they picked up the pace to make a game of it in the second half. Still, it was too much for Guy Sikora, who sunk five shots during the game, with at least one going in during each quarter. No one else for either teams scored more than four, in what was overall a well-played one.

On Sunday, it was right back to work, albeit with different dance partners, as the Bantams finished out the weekend with four games amidst shutters snapping on the opposite court before, during and after every game.

— In one of two games featuring two coaches who each head one Rookie and one Bantam team (this was the second of the two games, for a description of the first, see the Rookie League stories below), Coach Tom’s Scorpions defeated Coach Shannon’s Foxes 21-18 (18-11 in regulation time). Three Scorps hit for a half dozen points each: Asher Zaczepinski and Marko Zelenovic, who are each feeling quite comfortable now at this level, and Ben Van Bilderbeek, who is more so than that. Zelenovic also had 8 rebounds and 5 steals and among his points was a three-pointer. That led to some kefuffle later in the game that resulted in the league director to amend the “Dalton White” rule about how you can defend a player in the lower levels once they can a trey! See Rule Clarification below for more.

Leo Mooney and T.J. Turner played best of the Foxes, who suffered through the mild upset, after trailing by only two after three quarters to be outscored 6-1 in the final frame. Jack Phelan scored his first basket this season.

The Scorpions played the game with only one substitute.

— The Jaguars used a 10-0 lead to blow open and close the game from late in the third through midway through the fourth quarter and went on to defeat the Rockets 28-24. After Saul Sene and Ryan Chambers each hit bank shots to draw the Rockets to within one point at 13-12, the Jags went on a tear.

Kaden Friedman drove and scored to make it 15-12 after three. Atobek Nasimov was left alone underneath on an inbounds pass early in the fourth quarter from Aubrey Nasson and it was 17-12. Not a minute later, the very same defensive lapse and Cooper Kun four Nasimov to up the lead to 19-12. Nasimov then followed in a missed shot at the 4:47 mark to make it 21-12 and Joseph Zak hit a floater after a long drive to finish the run, and effectively, the game.

Antonio Rodriguez finally scored for the Rockets to break the run with 2:39 still to play, but there wasn’t enough time from there. A-Rod had 10 points, which was best for the Rockets who got good play from Noah McLaurin as well.

Nasimov finished his best ever Minor League game with 11 and the same number of rebounds for a nice double-double. Archer Aguilar and Max Lewis split 9 points for the Jags, who play at Culver Middle School this weekend.

— All six players who suited up scored at least one basket—none more than 2 of them—in a team effort for the Wolves to hold off the Typhoon 16-11.

It looked like a blowout after three, with the Wolves on top 12-3, but the Typhoon wasn’t finished.  Parker Cappiccille hit three baskets over the final 8 minutes and just missed on a fourth that would have put the Typhoon within one late in the game. As it was, the score was just 12-9 before Kellen McDonough hit a big shot from just inside the top of the key to stop the bleeding and make it 14-9 with 3:23 to go. Cappiccille narrowed that back down to three points with 2:12 to go but Grey Broderick hit the dagger with just under a minute to play that sealed the deal, drilling a shot from the left baseline.  

Sean Saunders and Gavin Bao (who both scored their first baskets of the season) played well for the winners, as did Bora Kocataskin, who scored four big points. The Typhoon again missed the services of Dagmawi Ayele, to be sure.

— Finally, in a game not nearly as close as the final score might indicate, the first-place Stars beat the last place Dragons, 25-21. It was 16-2 at halftime before the Stars sportingly obliged. Ryan Schuster earned POG honors as much for his 6 points and 10 rebounds as pretty much being the team floor general. Jace O’Brien wasn’t far behind with and 8/8 outing. Moses Debenning netted his first basket of the season.

Kayra Sanar returned to the fray in a strong way, scoring 11 of the Dragons 15 regulation tallies.


There was one Rookie game on Saturday before a deluge of Rookie fun Sunday on picture day.

In the first game of the weekend, the Bull’s Henry Brown hit only one basket, but more importantly four out of his six free-throws leading his squad to a win by that margin over the Meerkats, 8-4 in regulation time. His 6 points doubled his total season output to date.

He and Liam Parr split 16 rebounds in a 35-20 statistical advantage for the Bulls that helped propel their winning ways. Sadie Stiehm led that charge with an even ten and won player of the game honors for her work. Liam Parr scored his first basket of the season in the win.

— On Sunday morning we started out with the league-leading Splash staying unbeaten and untied atop the standings with a powerful 25-12 win over the Hawks. Theo Haberli, as usual, was the scoring leader with 12 points, but by no means was alone in playing top-notch ball for the Splash. Jarvis Wakefield added 6 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, 5 more than Vaughn Elliot, and Harlan Mansfield added 8 more off of the glass. This a really good squad that has a chance to run the table and maybe even join a very select group of teams over the year that have defeated the League All-Stars when the season is over. That’s still a long way off, though.

Leo Epstein had 16 rebounds for the Hawks, who had at least some fun at game’s end as they watched three different players: Dylan Son, Vitalina Moncher and Jonathan Watson all score their very first career baskets. Very cool! Vihaan Nawathe played a top-notch game as well, as he waits for his scoring hand to heat up.

With the win, the Splash wrapped up a spot in the upper division post-season Rookie League tournament, the first team to do so in this division.

— Two coaches who each coach two teams went head to head two times on Sunday, and they split. Coach Shannon’s Rookie Meerkats edged coach Tom’s Dolphins in the first such contest of the day, 23-16. Iwa Hashim netted four baskets and controlled the floor with 8 rebounds and 5 steals leading her team to victory. Cam Pariser added 6 points as fully 5 players scored at least one basket. The Kats led 8-0 at the break. Hashim’s baskets were the first of her career.

Erol Besincioglu tossed in 6 points to lead the Fins. The Meerkats held an 18-5 advantage in steals at game’s end.

— The first three games were all blowouts on this day, and this one was certainly that from the get-go. The Hoopstars built an early 11-2 lead and sailed in cleanly, winning 28-11 over the as yet winless Vikings.

Monika Diaz had a career high 18 point day, just three shy of the all time Rookie League record set by Dillon Rodarte of the Bears back in 2012. Not much else was needed, frankly, although good performances were turned in by Felix Idell and Lucas Kim, who had 9 steals (the Hoopstars had a 20-5 lead in those). By the way, Rookies hold the top five all time steals marks for one game in the modern era, with 19-18-17 and a pair of 16’s, led by Timosha Moncher, who is now playing in the Majors, and was the youngest to ever do so.

Miles Boelke led the Vikings with 5 points and 9 rebounds.  


— Whereas the others were not, the finale of the four was a good game.

The Trojans built up an 8-3 lead after three quarters and seemed to have things well in hand after Bella Kariger dropped in a rebound follow shot with 5:34 to go in the third quarter to give the Trojans the lead 4-3. That was followed less than a minute later by Gavin O’Brien’s similar action and then Brendan Still did the same yet again after the sub break.

But in the final quarter, the Bulls began their journey back. Michael Mikhail followed in a missed shot to make it 8-5. After three heart wrenching in and out shots on successive trips down the floor for the Trojans, Brown hit a shot to make it a one point game with under a minute to play, and then scored on one of his four free throws with a chance to win the game, and we all settled for a nice tie game.

Brown finished with 4 points, high honors for either team. Still was named player of the game for his basket and 8-rebound performance. The Trojans played without leading rebounder Theo Richards, who was their leading scorer coming into the game. The Bulls’ Sadie Stiehm scored her first basket of the season, and second of her career. The Trojans held a 29-16 overall rebounding advantage.


Saturday wrapped up with a triple-header of Minor League action.


— The Hornets played a little “light switch” ball in beating the Orange Stars to the finish line, 37-32. That means when the game was close, or the Stars began to threaten, they played really well. When the game was not close… not as much. Some teams can pull that off, others find it difficult to turn the light back on when it counts. Keep in mind here that the Stars played with five players, including one Bantam Leaguer in his first Minor League action ever, for the entire 32 minutes without ever subbing out.

And the Stars made it very interesting, as they were hot in the second half, after falling behind 26-9 at the intermission, they managed to win the second half 22-11. It wasn’t enough, but they did draw as close as five points a couple of times late in the game thanks to a sharpshooting career high 17 points from Armaan Kohli.

His older sister Natasha was very busy on both ends of the floor, grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring four times inside. Teammate Bella Mussi-Nelson was all over the place running things from the point with 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals and Zoe Debenning scored 6 big points in a fine supporting role, her first three baskets this season. Even the Bantam Extra did nothing to hurt his team. Good going, Doctor! Kohli’s 17 points are the most in a single Minor League game this season so far.

However, let’s give kudos where they belong, the Hornets did score more point than the other guys, and that’s the name of the game in the end. Abel Antal was game MVP scoring 14 with ten rebounds on a double-double afternoon. Aayan Lakahni and Gorden McLean split 13 points and everyone on the roster scored at least one basket for this formidable team. Ryan Chambers scored his first Minor League baskets in this one — two of them in the same game! The Hornets were without standout Eric Papazian for this one.

With the win, the Hornets became the first team in any division to clinch a spot in the “A” bracket of the post-season tournaments.

— The Rush toughed out a 26-21 win over the Jedi behind Emiliano Slesaransky’s best game at this level. The big guy scored 9 with 7 rebounds to lead the win. Sasha Yansen added 6 and Jake Ronn grabbed 9 rebounds and had 6 steals. Owen Boelke grabbed 8 rebounds, and now needs to find his scoring touch over the final few weeks.

London Coleman is getting more comfortable at this level as well, scoring 6 with ten rebounds for the Jedi. Asser Tewodros also scored a half-dozen points. Coral Izen, Taylor Chen, and Sebastian Fouquette also played well. Fouquette, who has labored a while in the Minors seems to be finally finding his stride here. The Rush led 16-9 by halftime.

— In Saturday’s closeout affair, the Rhinos scored their first win of the season 28-25 over the Thunder in a hotly contested ballgame.

To do it, they had to wait for Keean Stoll’s three post-game free-throws to go in (any one of which would have done the trick), and he led his team with 10 points and a busy stat line across the board.

The game was tight throughout with a one point lead being all that could be had be either team at the end of any given quarter until the end result. Dean Phelan hit a big fourth quarter basket in the win, and three of his mates, Messers. Jahromi, Scholze and Poza all scored four points. Jahormi had ten rebounds to lead both teams.

High scorer overall was the Thunder’s Dalton White, who dazzled with 13. Adi Petros added 5 and Alex Brick had 9 rebs.


This week, we have some midweek games, three planned on the original schedule and two that were forced to this spot by postponements earlier in the season.

The highlight games look like this:

Tuesday at 4:20 the 3-1-1 Trojans and 4-1 Hoopstars meet for second place in the Rookie League for the time being.

Saturday night at 5:30, the top two teams in the Majors play for the first time, as the Mavericks and Leopards do battle. Then on Sunday morning at 10:30, the 2nd place spot may be in line for the winner of the Bantam league game between the 3-2-1 jaguars and 4-2 Foxes.

Later on Sunday, the “seeding” games for the majors pits 6th vs 5th place teams, then 3rd and 4th and finally 1st vs 2nd to determine one last time what spots each team will grab in the post-season tournament.

Good seats still available.










— 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 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 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 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 (halftime 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.  

RULE UPDATED (2-18-18): In the Rookie and Bantam league, beginning a few seasons ago, players making a three point shot could then be guarded by one defensive player at a time outside of the three point line. This rule, known as the “Dalton White” rule, has been amended to include the even the time said player does not have the ball, HOWEVER, the defender may also now steal any pass intended for that player outside the three-point line, the same as used to be the case inside the line. In no case may the defender go past the half-court line, and since there is no back court violation, a pass to the offensive player behind the three-point line is safe and acceptable.

** 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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