The Bantam League champion Sol who will try to beat the league all stars this Saturday

There’s only a small bit of mystery and intrigue left for the Spring 2018 and entire 2017-18 year of youth basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA. Will either the Sol or Oaks become the second (and possibly third) team this year to run the entire season without a single blemish on their record? If so, can they beat the league all-star team to join the Winter league Major Leopards in joining a very select group of teams to pull off the rare feat in the modern era?

Which players will walk off the hardware for Most Valuable players, best rookie and all the rest in the Spring Awards banquets, and who will win the big year-round honors and be memorialized on the plaques in the gym office in perpetuity?

Lots of old friends, with the same old answers… who knows? But we are about to find out, as we head into the final day of regular season games, followed by all star Sunday and the aforementioned banquets next week, running over the course of four days.

Here’s what shook down on the penultimate weekend just passed:

And by the way, I’d like to point out that 6 of the 8 games on Sunday were decided by a total of 7 points, and 5 of those were one-point games. Four of those one-point affairs were decided by post-game free throws.

On Saturday, along with an over time game, there were three other decided by two points. That’s a pretty good weekend of ball, by anyone’s reckoning.


The Rookie League champion Crusaders pose for a post-game picture.

Every team in this division had the busiest of weekends, playing two games in two days. The first set, on Saturday, pushed teams into their final slots for the third and final tournament.

The biggest story is that the Sol clinched the overall league championship no matter what would happen the second day, by winning their semi-final on Saturday with not too much stress, 27-13 over the Sealions. It was over pretty early by anyone’s standards, with the Sol leading 8-0 before Camden Goetz finally scored for the Lions 6 minutes into the second quarters.

What this reporter wrote on the score sheet were the following words: “These guys are just too good.”

Jace O’Brien led all scorers with ten and Danilo Samardzija was best o n the court throughout, scoring 4 with 13 rebounds and 3 assists. Eliot Mamedov dropped in 5. The Taller Sol had a 6-1 lead in blocked shots as they had their usual interior domination, and grabbed 13 steals to just 2 for the Lions.

Four players scored for the Sealions, however none had more than 2 points

— The other semi final went to overtime, before the Surf finished a fantastic comeback over the shorthanded Starfish, wining 21-19 in extra time.

Sean Saunders got open behind the four-person box zone of the Starfish midway through the three-minute extra period and grabbed a pass from Leo Mooney, turned and banked in the only points of the overtime session, and his only points of the game.

It never looked like it would possibly come close to being a thriller as it turned out.


Aiden Harvey and Jacopo Stablini of the Crusaders put defnsive pressure on the Rocks’ Wally Levitt during action last weekend.

— Earlier in the morning, the consolation semi finals were played out.  In the first of the double-dip, the Sailfish nudged the Sharks 23-20.

It was a wide-open first half with lots of players making lots of plays and scoring lots of points. The Sailfish called a timeout with 9 seconds left in the half to set p a play–these things hardly ever work. The pass came in from half court to Max Lewis, who fed the ball to Ronan Hill who let fly from outside the three point and banked it in from the left side to give the Fish a 15-10 halftime lead. Pretty cool.

And as it turned out, importante.

Monika Diaz started things off right for the Sharks in the third quarter scoring on back-to-back trips to trim the lead to just one point.

In the fourth period, Ryan Chambers drilled a long and deep three pointer to put the Sharks on top 17-15 with 4:15 remaining in the game.  

With just 30 seconds to play, Max Baracy got a pass from Hill and put it in to tie the game. The Sailfish dropped back on defense and got the ball back. They called timeout with 13 seconds left.

The ball came in to Hill, who this time could not connect from near the free-throw line and with time running out Lewis grabbed the rebound underneath and put it back up. It bounced on the rim three times, the buzzer sounded, and it dropped in for the winner!

It’s one a very small handful of game winning buzzer beaters in the modern era (since 2011). For Lewis, who was mobbed by his teammates and coaches on the sideline, they were points 5 and 6 on the day. Hill finished with 5 and Baracy and Leo Epstein, who played well, each had two baskets.

Trajan Booker is rounding into form at season’s end, scoring 4, same as Diaz and James Cook. Chambers led them all with 5 and 12 rebounds to go with ‘em.

— In a game much like the previous one, at least at the start, the Sun and Seagulls played up and down basketball with lots of action and scoring early on, leading to an 18-18 tie through three quarters of the exciting tilt.

Julian Weinerman broke that tie on the first trip down the court for the Sun in the final quarter, off of an assist from Rowan Booher. Then Justin Tun got a teal, fed Weinerman who found Booher in reverse this time to return the favor and it was 22-18. Booher was the star of the show in crunch time in this one, and the Sun rolled to a 28-23 regulation time win behind his 8 points. Tun scored 10, including 6 in the third quarter alone. Ryan Schuster scored 4 and had 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Theo Haberli led the Gulls with 8 points.

— On Sunday, it was the final games of the season for all but one team, as the tournament and overall Bantam year came to a close.

Not a lot of fuss nor muss as the Sol wrapped up the perfect regular season with a commanding 31-21 win over the Surf in the championship game.

The Surf got in by the skin of their teeth as you read above, but this may have been a case of “Be careful what you wish for”.

To win a game against a really good and heavily favored team, you must, of course, play really well on both ends of the floor yourself, but the other team has to be a little “off,” and their star players need to get only limited help from unusual suspects. Absolutely NONE of that happened right from the get-go, as the Sol zoomed out to an 8-0 lead.

But all of a sudden, the Surf showed life and cut the lead in half, and when Joseph Zak laid one in with :40 to play in the first, it was just a two point game (with halftime free throws, the Surf actually led 9-8 after the first quarter).

To open the second quarter, Kahlo Lemond hit his second basket of the game to put his team up by a bucket, but on the very next trip, Alex Segil dropped on in to tie the game up again.

The Surf was playing pretty good defense at this point, and were maybe starting to believe they had a real chance.

But the Sol have too many weapons, and eventually they just wear you down. Elliot Mamedov traveled, apparent to all by the fame officials, and then threw up a two-handed impossible shot under heavy pressure. It went in to put the Sol up 16-10 just before half time.

In the second half it was apparent that the Surf just did not have the same shooting talent that the Sol had, and it turned into a typical Sol victory, their 9th against zero defeats.

O’Brien’s shooting (8 points) and all around game were best on the court, while Samardzija took home player of the game honors. Lemond, Mamedov and Antonio Rodriguez all added four points for the victors.

Leo Mooney was superb for the Surf, scoring 8, and Zak had 6 more. Sean Saunders played well in defeat.

After the game, the Sol were escorted into the commissioner’s office to view the photos of the other 15 teams that have gone undefeated and untied through the modern era that started in 2011, among them 5 that also beat the league all stars… and that’s what the Sol get to try and do this Saturday in the final game of the regular season at 4:20 p.m. 

This is a really good team, and they have a shot at becoming number 6.

— Mohamad Jahromi’s fourth quarter basket lifted the Sealions to a 12-11 win over the Starfish in the third place game of the tournament. Jahromi led his team with 4 points and 13 rebounds, in a game where his Lions outrebounded their foes 43-28, certainly a factor in the win.

The only other regulation points came on a Jarvis Wakefield basket and Cooper Kun free throw.

Marko Zelenovic scored 6 to cap off a fabulous weekend for him personally. Even though his team lost both games, he became the first player to be named Santa Monica Y player of the week when going 0-2.

— The Sailfish nipped the Sun for the Consolation title of the third tournament, doing so after the game when Marina Shickler dropped in two free throws to seal a 14-12 victory.

This, after Ryan Schuster of the Sun had tied the game hitting all four of his post game tosses in dramatic fashion.  

It easily could have gone the other way, but Schuster and Rowan Booher, who had a good game overall, each had shots go in-and-out in the final minute that ultimately cold have won the game, or at least tied it.

The biggest play, just as it had come the day before when Lewis hit a shot to win the consolation semi final, came right at the end. Lewis missed this time, but Max Baracy caught to rebound and put it back in to make it 12-8 Sailfish with about a second-and-a-half to play. Without that basket, this game ends in a tie.

Leo Epstein, Max Baracy and Sadie Stiehm all played nice games for the Fish. Cassius Taylor and Julian Weinerman shone for the Sun.

— The 7th place game came down to free throws to open Sunday play, with Archer Aguilar scoring the game winner for the Seagulls over the Sharks, 21-20. Just after Aguilar’s heroics, the Sharks had a chance to tie it up, but hit only one of the two they needed to do so.

Dagmawi Ayele was player of the game, and why not?! He scored 8 and had 23 rebounds for the winners! Theo Hableri added four.

Ryan Chambers led all scorers for both teams, hitting for 11 with 10 rebounds for a Sharks double double.


— All the Crusaders had to do was show up and behave themselves and the points they would pick up in the standings would be enough to clinch the league title.

They did more than that, putting the exclamation point on a wonderful championship season beating out the Rocks in a hard fought tournament championship game 19-16.

After an edgy start in which several players were injured and game seemed to have a start——and—–stop sort of feel to it, the third quarter ended with a bang. Dominic Drew was trapped defensively near the basket by two Rock defenders but managed to find a passing lane. He found Gavin O’Brien who dropped in a shot with a half-minute to go in the third that put the Crusaders up by 5 at 13-8.

Henry Brown had a shot waved off because of a reset of the clock by game officials, but on the ensuing play, dropped in virtually the same shot to bring the Rocks back to within three and give them hope entering the final 8 minutes.

There was, however, to be only one single point scored by either team in a tough defensive struggle of a final quarter, and the Crusaders came away victorious.

O’Brien for the Cru Crew and Brown of the Rocks led all scorers with 6 each. Drew added four points with 8 rebounds and 4 steals. Len Schnitzler scored a free throw on a technical foul call for having too many players on the court against the Rocks, her first ever in-game tally ever.

— In a battle of herbivores, the Gorillas turned aside the Koalas in the third place tournament game 24-19. They led 12-2 at the sub break of the third quarter, but had to hold on as the Koalas made a game of it, closing to within a single basket on the firs shot of the fourth quarter, a field goal by Rayan Etemadnia, who led the K’s with 6 points.

But Elliot ma put in his owned missed shot on a follow up for two of his super 14 point performance, in his final Rookie league game other than this Sunday’s all star tilt vs the Bantam leaguers. His teal and layin moments later sealed the game for the G’s.

Jenson Montague was the only other Gorilla basket scorer. Etemadnia had 10 steals for the Koalas.

— The Anteaters had an easy time of it in the consolation final, beating back the Banana Slug efforts 26-17.

James Petrovich was on fire, scoring 12 in the win, while Erol Besincioglu added 7. Both figure to move up to the Bantam league this fall. Each had 11 rebounds, meaning a double double for Petrovich.

Michael Mikhail and Miles Franklin led the Sluggos.  

— The 7th place game went to the Moose, and big, 24-12 over the Fighting Artichokes.  The winners pulled away early and coasted home behind strong play from Penelope Hunt, player of the game Luke Steelman (8 points/12 rebounds), and Desi Parra.

Vaughn Elliott was tops for the Arties with 6 but missed running mate Vihaan Nawathe, who missed this one.


— Arjun McIntosh dropped in a post-game free throw to make the Elms a one-point, 20-19 regulation time winner over the Orangels. It was one of a game-high 11 points for A-Mac, who hit another free throw a moment before to tie the game. He missed the next one, but made the finale.

Miles Aguilar found Matthew Hanasab in the right corner, and he made a shot with 3:38 to play in the game to give the Orangels an 18-16 lead. That disappeared at the 2:12 mark with Aguilar tied it with a hi arching bank shot over a taller defender on a driving layup. That left it 18-18 and left it for the free throwers.

— In the only other game of the weekend for the Minors, the Sycamores slipped by the Pines 27-26, in another game decided after the final buzzer by free throwers. This time Joseph Farzam, who played his best game at this level, made two in a row to bring his team from down a point to victory.

The Sycamores trailed 8-0 but tied it at the 5 minute mark of the second quarter at ten points each.  

With 2:50 left in the half. The Sycamores’ Jayson Bauda got stuck down low on one side of the key, but pivoted around, and in doing so lost the defenders for long enough to find Coral Izen on the other side of the key where he hit her with a bounce pass. Izen then hit a turnaround shot to give the Sycamores their first lead.

In the second half, trailing 13-12, Farzam hit three straight baskets to cap a 20-5 spurt for the Sycs and give them the lead 20-13.

Finally, with just 5 seconds left in the third period, Guy Carter finally ended the drought for the Pines off of a pass from Parker Cappiccille. All 8 of the Sycamores points in the period were scored by Farzam.

In the fourth, the Pines re-awakended. Darien Jones scored off of a nice assist from Aayan Lakhani on a 15 footer from the left wing in the first 50 seconds of the quarter to move the score to 20-17.

The Hunter Esposito-Doi drove the lane past Izen to bring the Pines back to within 1 point.

Matt Scholze’s layup from Cappicille gave them the lead back at 21-20 and a moment later it became an 8-0 run on Lakahani’s layup.

Jonathan Lin hit an important fourth quarter shot to finish the scoring at 23-22 in favor of the Pines, leading to the Farzam free throw finish.

Joe’s brother Ben grabbed 12 rebounds, same as his brother who ended up with a 12/12 double double.

Carter led all rebounders with 13, and he and Espo-D scored 6 each.


The Majors played the consolation half of their tournament on Sunday night to finish the weekend.

— The Royals, once threatening for a league championship but lately having fallen on hard times, found themselves in the 7th place game. Not surprisingly, they found new life and defeated the cellar-dwelling Goldrush 35-28.

It was a decent quality and fairly evenly matched game through the first half, but the Royals blew it all up in the opening moments of the second half with an early 8-0 run to open up a 24-12 lead and never looked back.

Gian Luca Tosonotti, Eli Levi and Jack Simon, scored 10, 9 and 8 respectively for the winners. Simon added 14 boards. Levi was player of the game for his standout overall play.

Gaspar Antal had 8 points and 21 rebounds for the Rush. Donovan Blackwin was impressive in defeat.


— It was just another great Sunday finish in the final game of the day, with the Green Wave topping the Big Red 43-42 on post-game, game-winning free throws from Keenan Bryant and Evan Daghighain, who posted a 20 point game onto his resume.  

Aviel Haroonian gave the Big Red a 37-35 lead with 2:30 left in the game with a three pointer, but it finished 37-36 at the end of regulation time. Bryant hit two for the Wave to give them the lead, but Hanasab did the same and it was a one-point advantage for the Red.

Hanasab had been injured late in the game, so it was a courageous effort for him to be sure. After Daghighian made his two to give the Greenies a two point cushion, Hanasab stepped up and hit one of two, rendering us with a decision.  

Quest Miller scored 8, and Estevan Rodriguez had a 12/13 double-double for the Red.


This week:

On Saturday, the Minor Oaks go for the perfect 9-0 season in the Minor final at 12:50 pm. If they win, they’ll square off with the Minor all stars on Sunday to try for a little slice of immortality.

Two games later, the Major Purple Aces face the Blues in the Major tournament final, having already clinched the overall league championship.

Then at 4:20, the 9-0 Sol play the Bantam All-Stars as mentioned earlier in this issue.

Sunday is full of all star games, including three highlighted challenge matches where the younger league challenges the higher up league—and the 6:40 p.m. end of the year game featuring our alumni players coming back to mix it up with the Major all stars in a full court game. Good seats still available.

Next week on four separate nights we celebrate the Spring season with the seasonal awards banquets, finishing up with Friday, June 15th’s year-round awards being handed out.







— 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 to anyone you’d like.

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