Ever since James Hecht became an assistant basketball coach at St. Monica in 1991 he’s enjoyed the profession.
He became head coach at Santa Monica High 14 years ago, and in most years he’s turned out quality teams. This one appears to be no exception.
Samohi will enter the upcoming Ocean League race as one of the favorites due to a nine-game winning streak that followed a 1-3 start. The streak ended in a loss to Upland High in the championship game of the Santa Barbara Tournament on December 29.
After Samohi won a non-league game at Peninsula, 62-50, the Vikings defeated Dos Pueblos, 53-48, Venice, 55-43, and San Marcos, 50-43, at Santa Barbara.
Hecht has quickly found a combination that works as he replaces three starters from last season’s 21-6 team.
Ed Willis and Justin Maxwell made the all-tournament team at Santa Barbara and Hecht is pleased with the progress of sophomores James Montgomery and Corey Walker.
It remains to be seen if Samohi will qualify for the CIF playoffs or go far like two seasons ago when it reached the semi-finals before losing to Long Beach Jordan, 62-58.
Last season Samohi lost a playoff game to Woodbridge High of Irvine, which was led by 6-foot-10 Austin Daye, who is now playing prominently as a freshman at Gonzaga.
“I think the Ocean League is going to have parity,” said Hecht. “Beverly Hills has the most returning starters, Hawthorne has a lot of talent, and it would be a mistake to overlook anyone.”
The Vikings’ first home league game will be against Morningside on January 11.