April 17, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Youth Basketball Staying and Playing Strong

By Dr. Paul Drew

Hello everyone, I’m Dr. Paul Drew.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to write about youth basketball.  Many of you know me as DocDrew, the author of the Swish which is about youth basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA.  Unfortunately, the pandemic stopped our program in March of 2020, and we were hoping to return this Fall, but the season has been canceled due to high COVID numbers.

Hopefully, the Santa Monica YMCA will return to youth basketball this upcoming winter, but it will depend on many factors helping for the return of youth sports indoors.

Beginning around April of this year, Tom Chambers helped to start weekly youth pickup basketball games on the outdoor courts at Lincoln Middle School on Sundays, and many other parents from the YMCA program started bringing their kids out each Sunday.

I recruited more kids, organized it more, had referees, and brought jerseys purchased by Tom Chambers and donated from the YMCA.

Before the end of the summer, we had close to 30 kids come out each Sunday.  Coaches Bill Kravitz, Rick Moncher, and myself helped to split teams evenly, and referee the games.  We also had help with refereeing from the young talented player Clark Elliott.

We also had guest coaching from Mark Ulrich and Jonathan Folonis from Santa Monica High School girls and boys basketball.

Before you knew it, it was a can’t miss Sunday for the kids, especially during this pandemic time, when kids were chomping at the bit, to get out and do something physical and have social interaction.

We also drew the attention of Lamondo Greer, the regional director of youth basketball for several westside YMCAs.  He came out to see our Sunday basketball and was impressed by the kids enthusiasm and maintaining COVID precautions of mask wearing.

Thus, he invited the kids to come play games for three Sundays in September at their outdoor court at the Culver/Palms YMCA.  All players wore masks, and 12 and older had to be fully vaccinated.

Furthermore, we have been invited to have teams representing Santa Monica and the Laker Youth Foundation for their upcoming Fall outdoor youth basketball league.

9/12/21:  We had a 10-11 year old team play a game, and a 12-14 year old team play two games against Culver/Palms teams.

Culver/Palms YMCA wore their Clipper jerseys, and the Santa Monica team wore their Laker youth foundation jerseys.  So in a sense, it was a crosstown rivalry, which helped to boost the kids’ confidence on both sides, and create a fun atmosphere.

In the first game of the 10-11 year olds with coaches Craig Pariser and Paul Drew, we had 14 kids which included the following:

Dagmawi Ayele

Ryan Chambers

Dominic Drew

Harlan Mansfield

Kai Badat

Rayan Etemadnia 

Noah Hagooli Bolaños

Alden Wong

Cam Pariser

Kai Halpert

Caden Feradouni 

Aiden Lin

Alec Ackermann

Cassius Taylor

The Junior Lakers put an amazing effort against an already organized team that had been in league play during the summer.  The game was close, with the Junior Clippers edging out the Junior Lakers 27-25.  The kids look forward to next Sunday in another rematch.

Coaches Craig Pariser and Paul Drew discuss strategy with the Junior Lakers.

The Junior Lakers 12-14 year old team played the next two games with the following roster, coached by Brian Phalen:

Dean Phalen

Jack Phalen

Alec Ackermann

Jesse Lister

Joey Little

Sasha Yansen

Nathan Petros

Adi Petros

Kai Mevasse

Leo Mooney

Jude Toren

Julian Arias

Xailoh Hermosillo 

Rowan Booher

In their first game, the Junior Lakers jumped out to a big league that they never relinquished to win 44-22.

In the second game, it was more close, especially with a Junior Laker team that was now a little tired from the previous match.  Close game with the Junior Clippers edging the Junior Lakers 35-31.

9/19/21:  

In the first game with the 10-11 year olds with coaches Craig Pariser and Bill Kravitz, had 10 kids which included the following:

Dagmawi Ayele

Ryan Chambers

Dominic Drew

Dylan Kravitz 

Noah Hagooli Bolaños

Cam Pariser

Kai Halpert

Gavin O’Brien

Jarvis Wakefield

Aiden Lin

The Junior Lakers 12-14 year old team played the next two games with the following roster, coached by Brian Phalen:

Dean Phalen

Jack Phalen

Cassius Taylor 

Parker Cappiccille

Sasha Yansen

Nathan Petros

Adi Petros

Kai Mevasse

Leo Mooney

Jude Toren

TJ Turner

Rowan Booher

The first game with the 10-11 year old Junior Lakers versus the Junior Clippers, turned out to be a guaranteed classic in the history of youth basketball.

It was a back and forth struggle with multiple lead changes.  

Going into the final seconds, the Junior Clippers managed to sink a fade away shot over three Junior Laker defenders to pull ahead by one, with less than 10 seconds in the game.

The Junior Lakers quickly inbounded the ball only to lose it out of bounds with 5 seconds left.  

After a timeout and some strategy, the Junior Clippers had the ball out of bounds near midcourt, what ensued after, became a moment for the ages.

The Junior Clipper player attempted to pass the ball in, by trying to go through Jarvis Wakefield’s legs;  however, he managed to scoop it up, and pass ahead to his best friend Cam Pariser who took a couple dribbles and launched a deep three point shot form about 30 feet from the basket.

As the ball slowly sailed high up in the air, the game buzzer sounded, and for that brief moment, all of us in attendance, looked on in a slow motion gaze to see what would happen with the shot.

Swish!!  Nothing but net. And the entire Junior Lakers team ran out to mob Cam and hold him up and congratulate him on what will be the greatest shot in his life.

The entire crowd of parents, coaches, and players waiting to play the next game, applauded and cheered what was a remarkable moment.

I’ve been involved with many games of youth basketball, and never have I seen a moment such as this, and it was very special for a great kid.

Both teams congratulated each other on what was a remarkable effort from both sides, and showing what youth basketball is all about.

In the second game and third games of the day, the 12-14 year old Junior Lakers took on two different Junior Clippers teams

Game #2

The Junior Clippers got out to an early lead, but the Junior Lakers kept fighting back, with the game being even in the third quarter.  However, the more experienced Clippers were able to control the second half over the newly put together Lakers.  Final score 35-29.

Game #3

The Junior Lakers started to show their experience of playing together in the previous game and put on a great performance against the stronger of the two Junior Clipper 12-14 year old teams.  Many Lakers out rebounded the taller Clippers.

In the end, the Lakers ran out of gas and gave up a buzzer beater lay up to lose 36-34, but showed great courage and teamwork that will carry them into the Fall season at Culver Palms YMCA.

It was overall a great day of youth basketball, and one that all players will never forget.  Special thanks to Lamondo Greer for inviting us to participate in these games and the upcoming Fall league.

9/26/21

Only game on the schedule today, featuring the rubber match between the 10-11 year old Santa Monica Junior Lakers versus the Culver Palms YMCA Junior Clippers.  Unfortunately, the Junior Lakers were without the buzzer beater Cam Pariser who had to quarantine due to a classmate teasing positive for Covid.

The following players represented the Junior Lakers, coached by Bill Kravitz and Josh Wakefield:

Ethan Pages

Aiden Lin

Ryan Chambers 

Rayan Etemadnia 

Noah Hagooli Bolaños 

Kai Halpert 

Jarvis Wakefield 

Dylan Kravitz

Gavin O’Brien

Dominic Drew

The Clippers got out to an early lead but the Junior Lakers kept coming back, and it was tied at halftime, and action was up and down thru the second half.  The Clippers eventually pulled ahead in the final minutes to squeeze it out 31-26.

Instead of handshakes and high fives, everyone in attendance gave a round of applause to both teams for putting on a great performance of youth basketball.

Stay tuned for future issues of the Swish about the Fall season of the Santa Monica Junior Lakers.

Here are my photos of the 10-11 year olds:

Coaches Bill Kravitz and Josh Wakefield discuss strategy

We were blessed to have Louis Yansen in attendance for the 12-14 year olds, and provided the following photos to show the atmosphere and spirit of youth basketball:

Coaches Paul Drew and Brian Phelan

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