Santa Monica High had a formidable boys basketball team this season, winning 21 games. However, none of the Vikings are expected to receive a Division 1 scholarship to play in college.
And in Samohi’s CIF playoff first round game, the opponent had such a player.
Austin Daye, who stands 6-foot-10 and has signed a letter of intent to play at Gonzaga, scored 36 points to lead Woodbridge High of Anaheim to a 61-58 win, ending Samohi’s season.
Ari Feldman had 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for Samohi. Leo Arnold and Taylor Walker each scored 15.
It was Samohi’s sixth loss of the season and third in a row. The Vikings concluded their Ocean League schedule losing at Culver City and Hawthorne before losing to Woodbridge.
“It’s very disappointing that we lost, but overall we had a good season,” said Coach James Hecht. “Last year we reached the semi-final round in the playoffs, but this team struggled to find its rhythm at the finish.”
The two league losses in the final week cost Samohi the league championship and a higher seed. As a result it drew a tougher opening game.
Inglewood, which won the league championship, is the only Ocean team left in the playoffs. Culver City and Hawthorne both won one playoff game before being knocked out.
Samohi was in the game all the way against Woodbridge, but if Daye wasn’t scoring, the son of former UCLA star Darren Daye was drawing such defensive attention that his teammates were free to get offensive rebounds.
“Their offensive rebounding was a key,” said Hecht.
One would expect a player of Daye’s size to operate close to the basket, but that wasn’t the case. Daye stayed on the outside, hit several long-range shots and made passes as he easily saw over the defense.
Hecht couldn’t remember a similar opposing player in his 13 years as the Samohi coach, someone that big who played on the outside.
And yet Samohi led after one quarter, 14-12, and trailed at halftime by only 31-30. In the deciding fourth quarter Samohi scored 17 points and gave up 19.
“It was a game we could have won,” said Hecht.
Feldman, who was in foul trouble and played limited minutes in the previous two games, didn’t commit any fouls and was productive. The 6-foot-6 senior has impressed college scouts, but signed a letter to play volleyball at Cal State Northridge and his basketball career might be over.
Bryan Louff, Samohi’s outstanding senior point guard who normally contributes double-figure points, was held scoreless. He hopes to play in college and has received some Division 2 attention.