The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 23, Issue 3




Just two weeks along, and the Rookies and Majors will already be finding out this coming weekend who the early leaders will be, as those two divisions have already played two of their three games in the first of three in-season tournaments.

Last weekend, the Bantams and Minors got their seasons underway with opening day games for all 14 teams in those two groups combined, including one overtime thriller.

This coming Sunday also marks the first of two picture days in the Spring youth basketball season at the Santa Monica YMCA for 2018. We urge all players to attend their team photo day even if they can’t make it to their team’s game that day. It’s important for all players to have a keepsake with ALL members of the team in the photo.

Here’s what happened on the court last weekend:


— The Sol built a big early lead of 10-2 by halftime and coasted home to a 23-17 win over the Surf in the Bantam league lidlifter.  Jace O’Brien was the primary contributor for the victors, scoring 10 and missing a double-double by a single rebound. Newcomer Danilo Samardzija was impressive in his first game at the Samo Y, and Gryffin Glowacki played well.

Leo Mooney led the Surf attack with 8 points, 12 rebonds and 5 steals, but only Sean Saunders, with two baskets, cold offer any help offensively.  


Archer Aguilar was a no-show at the start of the game, and was still missing in action until the second half started.  But once he showed up, he contributed well, and in overtime, sunk the only point of the extra period to lift the Seagulls to an exciting 17-16 win over the Sun.

It was a tough and close game throughout it seemed. Jason Tun, who had a poor tryout a month ago relegating him to the Bantam League, showed that perhaps he belongs in the Minors with his particular set of skills. His fourth field goal pulled the Sun to within a point at 11-10 late in the third quarter, and Ryan Schuster dropped in a bucket with 12 seconds left in that period to give the Sun a 13-12 lead.

On the first possession of the final quarter, Theo Haberli, the reigning Rookie League MVP from the winter, hit his first points to put the Gulls back in front.

Sammy Levi had a nice spin move in the lane and dropped in a bucket that had the crowd amazed, and it was 15-12 Gulls with 3:40 to play.  Tun’s layup cut that down to one point again and when Schuster followed up a missed shot with an easy put back the Sun went back in front 15-14.

That left it to post game free throws, but the Gulls could hit only 1 of their 5 and it was tied up, sending the game to overtime.  

In it, there was good defense on both sides and not a lot of scoring opportunities, but Aguilar was fouled twice and his team was already in the bonus, giving him the chances needed to win the game.

Tun of the Sun finished with 10 points to lead all scorers while Schuster led the rebounders with a dozen. Levi and Haberli split 14 points and rebounds own the middle for the winners, and Moses Debenning played well.  Noland Piippo, making the jump up from rookie ball last season, netted his first Bantam basket for the Sun.

— The Starfish started out hot and stayed that way until the game had been decided, building an insurmountable 16-0 lead through three quarters on the way to a 25-16 win over the Sharks.

Mark Zelenovic scored 6 of his 8 in the first quarter and Ben Steelman added 6 points. River Zelenovic and Isabella van Bilderbeek also found the bottom of the net, for the former, he did it twice.  Gavin Bao did a nice job on the glass and on defense in general as did Asher Zaczepinski.

Ryan Chambers led the Sharks with 8, all of them late in the game.  

— The Sealions pounded the Sailfish 28-10, blowing an already not so close game open with a 14-3 run in the fourth quarter.

Mohamed Jahromi scored a dozen points, 8 of those in the final frame, when the game had already been decided.

Camden Goetz’ three baskets early in the game were the difference makers when it mattered most. Theo Richards scored his first Bantam basket in the win.


Saturday was consolation day for the rooks with two games.

— The Banana Slugs slimed the Anteaters 19-12 with a consistent effort over all four quarters to advance to the consolation final next weekend.  Michael Mikhail was the best on the court, scoring 10 with 8 steals. Miles Franklin and Iwa Hashim played well for the winners, and Veronica Machala grabbed nine reobunds.

Erol Besincioglu and James Petrovich paced the ‘Eaters.

— For the longest time, the Moose led the Rocks in the third quarter 4-2. Henry Brown’s second of three baskets tied the game before the period ended, and the last one was one of two (along with Brandon Israels) that turned the game around in the final frame and gave it to the Rocks 14-11.  

Luke Steelman had the best game statistically for the Moose, scoring 2 and grabbing ten rebounds.  Taylor Moore had the only other in-game basket, and Desi Parra had 13 rebs and 4 steals.

Sunday, the winners from the previous week got together for the two semi-final games

— In the first 6 point standings game of the season in any division, the Fighting Artichokes blew open a tight game with a 6-0 run in the third quarter and cruised to a 15-10 win over the Gorillas, in a game in which the losing team did not score a point in regulation time, a very unusual happenstance over the years.

Liam Parr hit three baskets for the winners and had an excellent overall game.  Vaughn Elliott grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, and he and Vitalina Moncher each scored the other baskets for the Arties.

Elliot Ma and Noah Levy were best for the Gorillas, who need to work on their shooting.  

The Gorillas actually looked like the better team early in the game and had more quality (missed) shots, but the Artichokes started to awaken in the mid second quarter.

— The Crusaders posted a nice com-from-behind win over the Koalas to advance to the tournament final,


The Koalas led at the half 6-2, but watched as the Crusaders dominated the second half scoring, particularly in the third quarter.  By then, you cold see the Crusaders were the better passing team, and the Koalas continuously left the interior open, which was quickly exploited by the Crusaders with numbers passes from the top of the key to an all-alone team mate down low.

In the second period, Gavin O’Brien found Bella Kariger with one of said passes to pull the Crusaders back to within 2 points. Then O’Brien hit from the left elbow to tie it at 6 with 5:25 to go in the third quarter.

Ryan Cohen hit a left baseline bomb to put the Koalas back in front if only briefly. Dominic Drew tied it again, then hit a free throw line jumper that gave the Crusaders their first lead with less than a half minutes remaining in the third….a lead they would not again give up.

Jacopo Stabilini hit back-to-back baskets to up the score to 14-8, and sealing the deal for the Crusaders, who won the regulation game 14-12.

Drew finished with 6, one fewer than Cohen and one more than a very active Rayan Etemadnia of the Koalas, who also had 10 rebounds and 6 steals.


— The Minors were the last division to get in on the action, playing the tournament quarterfinals late on Saturday.

— Game one went to the Oaks, who blew it open in the second half in a win over the Sycamores, 34-21.

It was still somewhat of a game at half time with the Oaks leading only 11-7, but Jacob Burrows scored 9 of his game-high 16 points in a third quarter 11-4 romp to allow the Oaks to pull away. Adi Petros scored 7 of his 9 points in that first half. Jayson Badua led the Sycamores with 10 while Joe Farzam grabbed 11 rebounds and scored 4. The Sycamores were stymied by their own hand: top players Cecilia Casas and Coral Izen were not in attendance for this one.

— In the day’s finale, the Orangels had no trouble with the Elms, winning 32-22.  Natasha Kohli scored half of her 12 points in the decisive second quarter that saw the Orangels outscore the Elms 10-2 to effectively put the game away.  Credit Armaan Kohli (6 steals) and London Coleman (5 steals) for each scoring 6 points and leading a defensive charge that saw the winners with a 17-8 advantage in steals for the game as a whole.

Travis Waters and Arjun McIntosh were best for the Elms, and Jude Toren scored his first Samo Y basket.

On Sunday, the winners were right back in action, playing the two teams that received byes in the first tournament, and were the last two to play their first game.

— First it was the Orangels coming right back with another impressive game and win, this time over the Palms, who were playing their first game of the season, 25-17.  

The Palms have no one but themselves to blame certainly, missing at least 6 breakaway layups (and every other type of shot) in the first quarter and a half, which saw them fall behind 14-3 at the intermission.

By early in the final period, the Palms had cut that lead to 18-13 and had a look at the game, but ran out of time and ran into a tough bunch of Orangels who just kept the pressure on.

Natasha Kohli scored 12 to lead the winners, while brother Armaan, even though scoring only two, may have been the bigger factor in the win, with good defensive play and rebounding.

London Coleman and Zoe Debenning were also strong for the O’s. Clark Elliott led the Palms, who could never quite get it going.

— Let it be known that the Pines were officially the last team to take the floor in a real game, doing so at 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon.  Just as the Palms had done before them, they lost to a team with a game under their belt, the Oaks, 28-22 in the semi final.

Trailing 13-4 at the half, the Pines hit four straight baskets to open second half play, bringing the Oaks coach to hastily call a timeout. As all 6 players gathered around, whatever was said seemed to work, as the Oaks then rattled off the game’s next 8 points to blow the 13-12 lead up to 20-12, and the game was won.

Hunter Esposito-Doi finally broke that run with a three pointer, but the Pines had gone exactly 8 minutes without a point with the game on the line, a credit certainly to the Oaks resolve and effort on both ends of the floor.

Jacob Burrows finished a really nice weekend with a 14 point effort to go with the 16 from the previous day, and Adi Petros hit a big three point shot on the way to a 7-point outing to go with 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Aidan Hurbulot-Thomas was big man underneath with a dozen rebounds, but it was Kenneth Kun with 4 blocked shots and tough interior defense throughout who won player of the game honors.

Esposito-Doi led the Pines with 9 points, while Guy Carter had double figures in rebounding.


The Majors wrapped things up with a quadruple-header of second round tournament action: two consolation and two championship semi finals games.

— In the consolation bracket, all four teams were looking for their first win of the young season. The first to accomplish that task were the Blues, who topped the Gold Rush 43-32.

Michael Hill led the party with 18 points and perhaps more impressively, he had 12 steals! Cy Backen dropped in ten, and Charlie Downey walked off with POG honors with a busy stat line.

The Gold Rush played gamely, but did not have the firepower for this one. Gaspar Antal missed a double-double by a single point, grabbing 17 rebounds and scoring 9 with a badly bruised finger hampering his style.

Bruno Picazo added 7. Interestingly the Goldrush outrebounded the Blues 42-18, but it certainly did not translate to the scoreboard.  

— The second consolation semi final, the Yellowjackets came back to defeat the Crimson Tide 40-37. Trailing by as many as 14 in the first half and still 23-12 at half time, the Jackets posted a 17-7 third and 11-5 fourth quarter to turn the game around.

The smallest shall lead them: Timosha Moncher scored 13 to lead the victors and was helped out by 9 from Tommy Sorady and 8 from Matt Golubitsky. Luca Sone scored 12 for the Tide before fouling out, with Nifty Tewodros and Luke Khosla splitting 17 more.

Center Ariadni Potamianos missed the game for the Tide, an absence that  might have been able to change the outcome, but we’ll never know for sure.

— In the first of two tournament championship semi finals, the Big Red pulled away from the Green Wave with a 12-2 fourth quarter run, to win the game 37-26. It was scoring across the board with baskets in the final period from Harrison McGuire (6 points overall), Estevan Rodriguez (14.10 rebounds), Lukas Grebklias (5) and two from Aviel Haroonian (7).

Evan Daghighian led the Wave with 12 while no one else scored more than 3.

— The Purple Aces scored at least 8 points in each quarter, and that consistency wore down the Royals 40-28.

Jason Rosenberg, playing his first game at the Y in a few years, led the winners with 15 after missing the team’s quarterfinal win. He also had 5 steals. Kayvon Abad, Marcus Hevesey-Rodriguez and Dash Wasson all scored 6 or more.

The Royals, who led after one quarter, got 8 from Eli Levi, but only Gian Luca Tosonotti scored more than 4.  The Aces won the battle of steals, 16-6.

** This week all eyes are on the Bantam League, which plays not only their second round tournament games, but the finals the following day, on picture day. The semi-finals are on Saturday night at 5:30 and 6:40 with the championship game on Sunday at 4:20.

The Rookies will be the first ones to wrap up the first of the three in-season tournaments, with the final on Saturday at 4:20 between the Fighting Artichokes and Crusaders.  

Good seats still available for both games, and the prices are quite low.


The most important dates of the season are as follows:  Awards banquets in June—make time to attend put it on your calendar now.

Picture day—you do not need to buy, but you do need to be there for your team picture.

All-star games—everyone will make an all star game.  

Parents vs kids games:  lots of fun, try to make it!









— 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. If there’s an overtime, coaches get to pick whichever five they want on the floor no matter how long it lasts.

— 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. That goes for coaches, too. And players.

— 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 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. 20 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.

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).  95% 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 to anyone you’d like.

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