The Santa Monica College men’s basketball team earned a berth in the state playoffs for the first time in four years, but the Corsairs were eliminated in the first round by Cerritos, 65-61, on Wednesday night, February 27.
SMC took a 9-0 lead and a trapping defense was effective as the Corsairs widened the margin to 12 points in the first half.
But the host team caught up and a rally led by guard Noah Gottlieb fell short. Gottlieb made a pair of three-point shots late in the game and finished with 22 points in the final contest of his two-year Corsair career. The former Venice High star is expected to play at a four-year college next season.
Forward Karl Kindborg scored 10 points for SMC, which finished with a 17-15 season.
It seemed unlikely that SMC would be chosen for the playoffs when the team finished in a three-way tie with West LA and Canyons for fifth place in the seven-team Western State Conference South. But SMC’s strong early season record was taken into consideration and the Corsairs were picked along with conference champion Citrus, Bakersfield, LA Valley, and Glendale.
By defeating SMC, Cerritos advanced to a game against Los Angeles City College, which was one of four teams to receive a first round bye in the 20-team field.
A similar tournament began in Northern California and the North and South winners will play for the state championship.
This playoff berth was the first SMC received since Hall of Fame coach John McMullen retired four years ago. It occurred in Jesse Teplitzky’s first season as head coach.
It also preserved Teplitzky’s record of making the playoffs in all 10 years of his coaching career. He spent the first nine as an assistant at various schools.