The Hoop: The Official Newsletter of Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball, Volume 23, Issue 6






Henry Brown of the Rookie Rocks takes aim on the final shot of the semi final game vs the Banana Slugs in Sudden Death overtime

Teams in three of four divisions are threatening to make things a runaway, and take a victory lap through the third tournaments in their groups if no one can slow them down, while the Rookie League championship door was reopened if only slightly this past weekend in the Spring 2018 youth basketball league at the Santa Monica YMCA.

There were MANY exciting games this weekend to talk about, so let’s get going!


The Bantams opened up their second tournament on Saturday morning through the afternoon with a four game set.

and it’s a game winner!!!

— The league-leading Sol methodically took out the Sailfish, 24-12, building a 12-2 lead by halftime and coasting to shore. Elliot Mamedov and Antonio Rodriguez did the bulk of the scoring, with Jace O’Brien busy with 4 points and 9 rebounds. Not a single Fish player could muster more than one basket.

— While T. J. Turner could only manage to make 2 of 10 half time free throws, it did pull his SeaLions to within two points of the Sun at the break. Then, Mohamad Jahromi, the divisional player of the week, went on his own personal stampede, scoring the game’s next 8 points on a variety of follow ups of missed shots and layins after steals.  

Although the Sun had a lot of good looks in the second half, most of their shots were just barely off the mark. Justin Tun (8 points) finally broke the run to make it 14-6 heading into the final sub break, it was too late. The Sun tried, but their later shots were more of the same–in and outs–and it was over.

Turner finished with 11 rebounds, helping the Lions to a 44-26 win in that category as well.

— The Surf was too strong for the Sharks who were sunk 25-15, falling apart in a 14-1 second half drubbing.

Leo Mooney’s right baseline drive and basket put the Surf on top to stay early in the third quarter. Then Joseph Zak took the game over hitting a mid-lane jumper, a coast-to-coast layup, and a driving layin to make it 18-9. Lucas Kim put the finishing touches on the run and the game with a jumper from the left elbow, his first Bantam League basket. Zak finished with 12 points and 5 steals. Credit Bora Kocataskin with a quality contribution towards victory in one of his better games at this level.

Ryan Chambers led the Sharks with 5 points and 9 rebounds. Felix Idell got his first Banta basket for the Surf.

— The Starfish used a 15-5 second half blitz to defeat the Seagulls 22-19, coming from being slightly behind at halftime.

Macy Zelenovic put in back-to-back baskets inside in the first minutes of the second half to give the Starfish the lead 10-9. Asher Zaczepinski, who had a team-high 5 steals on the day, grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to make in 12-9 with just a minute left in the third quarter.

Theo Haberli cut into the lead for the Gulls a half minute later with a 16 footer from the top of the key, just inside the three-point line, but Zaczepinski found Atobek Nasimov who fired in a bank from the left wing as the quarter’s horn sounded to put the Starfish back up by three at the break.

Marko Zelenovic scored from the free throw line to make it 16-11, and Gavin Bao, the player of the game who exceeded all expectations with 9 rebounds, 3 steals and a nice dribble-drive from the left wing to push the lead to 18-11 and end most of the remaining suspense.

The Starfish, who had 7 of their 9 active players score at least one basket, were also relentless on the boards, winning that battle 54-35 (Marko Z. had 13 to lead the team), and held a 16-6 advantage in steals. Most teams that do all of that will be called winners just like they were after this one was over.


The Rookies played their consolation semi finals on Saturday afternoon, and the tournament championship final four ran on Sunday.

— The Anteaters are still the only team in any division on the outside looking in for their win or tie, falling to the Moose in a tense one, 7-4.

The game was scoreless until half time, when Desi Parra untied it with a free throw. He was clearly the main, if not pretty much the only offensive thrust the Moose had, scoring clinching baskets in the third and fourth quarter, to offset the efforts of James Petrovich (2 points, 16 rebounds) and Erol Besincioglu (2 and 7) who had plenty of shots, but not much luck. Parra finished with 7 points (all of his team’s total), 12 rebounds and 5 steals. Nice game, kid!


— Ryan Cohen’s 12-foot bank shot from the right side of the court with just under a minute to play in overtime lifted the Koalas to a 19-17 win over the Fighting Artichokes.

The Arites had to consider themselves fortunate to even make it to overtime in the first place, as they hit a remarkable (especially for a Rookie game) 6 of 8 post game free throws to turn a 12-6 loss into a tie and force extra time.

Poor shooting and shooting form led this game to be a scoreless tie through the first 16 minutes–the first basket did not come until the third quarter! Cohen hit two baskets, then Tristan Hayes tossed in a spinner and Cohen hit again to open the fourth and make it an 8-0 blowout. Or so we thought at the time.

The momentum started to shift in the early fourth quarter as the Arties battled back to within two points on Vihaan Nawathe’s follow of a missed shot with 3:34 to play in the game.  But Ryan Etemadnia (9 rebounds and 9 steals) and Cohen scored again to make it 12-6 at the final horn of regulation time.

Tara Gohill and Nawathe were best for the Artichokes overall. Cohen led both teams with 8 points and an equal number of rebounds.  

— Sunday produced two spine-chilling finishes in the championship semi finals.

The first featured the unbeaten and untied Crusaders against the upstart Gorillas.

Dominic Drew stole an errant Gorillas pass, drove down the floor, stopped and hit a 5 footer as the defense flew past to break a scoreless deadlock with 1:57 left in the first half.

The Gorillas were getting good looks, but they were few and far between: 18 minutes into the game they probably had 3 or four good looks at the basket. Later on in the third, they had more and better opportunities, but nothing to show for it until Elliot Ma banked home a shot with three second to go in the third quarter to tie the game at 2’s.

About two minutes into the fourth and final frame, Gavin O’Brien hit on a rebound follow up and the Crusaders went back in front by two. At this point any lead looked like a very BIG lead.

But Ma (9 rebounds to lead the G’s) came to the Gorilla’s rescue again, hitting another bank shot with 2:02 to go tie it up.

Pressure defense by the Crusaders was the order of the day, and it allowed them to steal several passes in the final frantic moments, but they cold not get another shot to go down the hole.

The problem turned out to the that at times it turned out to be TOO ferocious and resulted in not only a couple of shooting fouls, but put the Gorillas in the bonus. Finally, at game’s end, Noah Hagooli-Bolanos had 6 free throws to shoot, and need to make only one.

He did, and they won by a point to advance to the final.  

Drew led all players with 8 steals.


The previous was exciting enough, but the second of the doubleheader pitting the Rocks against the Banana Slugs was even better, and had a more surprising finish.  

It was just a 2-2 game at halftime, but one important note was made in that Slugs guard Michael Mikhail, one of their top two players had picked up three personal fouls of his game allotment of 5 in the first five minutes of the first quarter.

He was super tight on defense, and obviously a little too tight from time to time. Miles Franklin scored the Slugs only bucket, which was matched by Henry Brown of the Rocks.

Wally Levitt hit his only field goal of the game, a bomb from the right elbow that banked in to make it 4-2 for the Rocks in the third, but Mikhail tied it moments later inside after a scramble for a loose ball came his way.

Mikhail picked up his fourth foul with a minute left in the third period. He then hit a basket from the left side off of a pass from Franklin with 5:51 still on the clock. Henry Brown tied it again heading into the final sub break.

There was no more regulation time scoring, but Mikhail ended up fouling out with just under two minutes to go.

He came back in to sink a pair of free throws and watched as Shai Painter and Brown hit one each for the Rocks to send the game into a three-minute overtime.

In same, Brown and Franklin swapped baskets and it remained tied forcing a sudden death overtime situation.

In that, a couple of minutes in, franklin was fouled and went to the line to try and win it. The first of his two shots must’ve missed by an inch but fell out; the second was not as close, and on we played.

Finally, 2:58 into that period, Brown capped a glorious afternoon with points 8 and 9 and the winning shot from about seven feet out on the right side. He also had a team-high 8 rebounds in being named Rookie player of the week. Mikhail finished with 6 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals, and Franklin was awesome with 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

Veronica Machala, with 7 rebounds, played well for team BS. Siena Shickler did a similarly nice job for the Rocks.


Saturday marked the opening of the second tournament for the Minors. Each of the six teams get to take the first round off because of the uneven number of teams in the division, and this time it was the Oaks and Orangels who would wait for Saturday’s quarterfinal winners.

— The Palms held on to beat the Sycamores with some late clutch shooting, 22-20.

Jake Ronn and Sophia Levi gave the Palms the lead 11-10 with a pair of baskets leading to the five minute mark in the third quarter.

Sebastian Fouquette made a driving layup and was fouled on the play to up the advantage to 13-10. Fouquette scored again with just over 2 minutes to go in the third and it was 15-10. Dash Hansford popped in a short shot from up to and it was 17-10, as the Palms made it a clean 10-0 sweep of the period.

But wily Minor League veteran Coral Izen would not let her team die quietly, and she came out blazing with three straight baskets to start the fourth quarter, making it a game again at 17-16.

All the momentum belonged to the Sycamores, until Grey Broderick quieted everyone down with a frozen rope from the left baseline to make it 19-16. Surely now it was over.

But with 1:30 to go, Izen hit again and it was a one point game.  

Until it wasn’t. Jake Ronn this time, calmly knocking down his final basket of the game (he scored 8) to make it 21-18, the final regulation score.  

The Sycamores had a chance to tie with free throws, but nothing came of it.

Izen scored 11 all told, and running mate Cecelia Casas had double figures in rebounds. Ben Farzam played well in defeat.

Richard Cortez did the same for the winners.

— The Pines broke through into the win column for the first time this season, securing a 32-23 win over the Elms in the day’s nightcap. Good shooting down the stretch put the game out of reach, as the Pines won the second half 18-9. Hunter Esposito-Doi was best player on the floor, scoring 10 to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocked shots. Matt Scholze drilled home four shots and Darien Jones three others. Guy Carter controlled the glass grabbing 13 errant shots.

This game was played with high energy by both teams, and the Elms can’t be faulted for their efforts whatsoever. They just cold not hit enough shots to keep up with the Pines in this one. Taylor Chen continues to impress with 6 points and 15 rebounds, and Arjun Mcintosh is getting very used to the Minors as a floor general, with 5 points and good all around play.  

The Elms only had three steals. That can be counted on as a problem, or perhaps the Pines were particularly good at protecting the pumpkin. Either way you look at it, it was good enough for the Pines first win.

— The two winners turned around and played again the very next afternoon, with mixed results.

The Palms fell to the league leading and unbeaten Oaks 34-22. It wasn’t that they played poorly, it was the Oaks being relentless in their shooting and attacking. They just wear you down by hitting such a high percentage of shots, and the multiple weapons leaves you guessing as to who might be hot at any given moment of any game.

Case in point: the Oaks won every quarter behind Jacob Burrows (9), Nathan Kaspher (7) and Adi Petros (6). Kenneth Kun even dropped in two baskets and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Three Palms, Messrs. Elliott, Cortez and Ronn hit two baskets apiece, but they just couldn’t hit with enough regularity, plus their team got out-boarded by ten. It’s a deadly combination.

— The Pines, on the other hand, managed to come from behind to make the final, nipping the Orangels thanks to a 7-1 fourth quarter run, 19-17. When the game was on the line, first Toby Safchik got the Pines closer, then Aayan Lakhani got a steal and a stop and pop 5 footer to put them up by one. Finally Darien Jones put a fork in it with a bucket inside with just 40 seconds remaining, making it 15-12. Free throws kept that lead constant.

Gotta give credit to the Orangels defense which kept them in the game with an insane 29 steals. That did not turn into enough points, but if they every get their shooting shoes on at the same time, look out!

Guy Carter of the Pines and Armaan Kohli, Jack Lofaro and Miles Aguilar of the O’s deserve mention for good play for each side.


The final four games of the weekend were in the big leagues–first a pair of consolation semifinals, then the final four of tourney two.

— In the first of the former aforementioned games, the Yellowjackets raced past the Goldrush 50-34, with Timosha Moncher leading the way with a not-unusual 18 points and Jesse Lister raising some eyebrows with his best game at this level scoring 13. A pair of lucky 7’s came up for Xailoh Hermosillo and Tommy Sorady. JasonTun had 5 steals and Matt Golubtiskiy 9 rebounds before fouling out late.

This one was pretty much over by half time at 22-13, and if it wasn’t it certainly was 8 minutes later.

Gaspar Antal did his usual thing with a 13 point-16 rebound double-double, while Rama Karimi added 8 in the loss.  

— The Jackets get the Blues in the cons final this weekend, after the latter took care of the Big Red, 42-36.

Trailing 26-22 after three quarters, Michael hill of the Blues blew it up for 9 of his game-high 21 points in the final quarter, which was won by the Blues 19-8 to turn the game around.

Charlie Downey and Sebastian Ramirez played significant roles in the win.  

Estevan Rodriguez paced the Red with 15 points, while Quest Miller and Joey Little added 6 each. The Blues won the battle of the boards 43-24.

— In the first of the final four games, the Purple Aces stayed perfect, running pas the Green Wave in the semi finals, 45-34. It was 28-14 at the half thanks to an 18-7 second quarter blitz for the Aces, who got even scoring throughout their lineup with 7 players scoring four or more led by Ian Villanueva with 8 and 10 rebounds. The rebound battle wasn’t really much of a battle—the Aces won that as well, 43-18.

Griffinn Pine and Evan Daghighian each scored in double figures for the Wave, who welcomed Josh Kaplan back to active duty, after he had suffered a bad finger injury in the early season. The team is hoping once he gets it going, they might have a shot at tournament number three.

— The last game of the weekend may have been the best game of the week, only this reporter has only second hand reports and a score sheet to piece things together, and if he wasn’t in attendance, did the tree really fall over in the forest?

At any rate, it looks like it was a doozy.  

The Crimson Tide raced out to an early 17-9 lead after one quarter over the Royals hitting four three pointers in that period alone.  

But the Royals rallied back with a strong second quarter and at the half it was a one-point game.

It was tied after three, and as fates would have it, after four as well!

Hard to tell how it happened, but there were a bunch of three-point shots made in regulation time, another three in the fourth quarter by the Tide. Two of those belonged to Luca Sone, who finished the night with 23 points, and his 6 successful three-point shots set a new all time record for the modern ear (since 2011) in any division. He missed only once outside the arc, that in the third quarter.

This I can tell you for sure: were it not for Eli Levi making a pair of free throws after the game ended, the Royals lose it in regulation time. But he did make them and on they played.

In extra time, Dom Kajota (11 points) drained his own three, giving the Tide a ridiculous total of 11 out of 18 from three-point range for the game, but a pair of baskets by Gian Luca Tosonotti and Shiva McIntosh (who also made an OT free throw) were the difference in the game.

Jack Simon was given player of the game honors for his 12-point outburst for the victors. Nifty Tewodros scored 8 for the Tide.

It sounded like a good game, and looks like on paper, too!


This week there are a few choice morsels from which to choose, all free for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday afternoon at 4:20 it’ll be the Gorillas and Rocks in the tournament final. The first place Crusaders will be interested onlookers after playing the third place game vs the Banana Slugs.

At 5:30 the Bantam Sol put their perfect record on the line in the first of two semi final games. The championship game is the following afternoon at 4:20 for the Saturday night winners.

And Sunday morning at 11:40 you can see the Oaks and their perfect record on the line against the Elms in Minor League action.


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

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. 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.

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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