Although the Santa Monica High boys basketball team was eliminated in the first round of the state tournament, Coach James Hecht considers the season a grand success.The Vikings went 22-9, won three games in the CIF playoffs, and became the first team in Hecht’s 15 years as head coach to receive a state playoff invitation.Samohi gave favored Dominguez a battle in the state tournament game, leading by one point at halftime and trailing by only two with six minutes to play before absorbing a 64-51 defeat.”We showed we belonged,” Hecht said.The coach is thankful for the support his team received.”From the students and the community,’ he said.”We had as many fans as Dominguez did in their gym. The support was consistent all season.”The Southern California State Regional was a 16-team team tournament requiring four rounds in six nights. Dominguez lost in the second round and Westchester defeated King of Riverside, 53-39 in their championship game which was played at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.On Saturday, March 21, Westchester will play Northern California winner McClymonds High of Oakland for the state championship in the highest division.In Samohi’s game against Dominguez, Gerald Hatchett scored 12 points and Garrett Frick 11. Both are seniors, as was center Kunnu Shofu. In addition, five juniors who’ll be the nucleus of next season’s team did well.Hecht praised the play of James Montgomery, Harry Horn, Cory Walker, Danilo Toscovic and Solomon Singer.Players will also arrive from Samohi’s lower level teams. The freshmen and sophomore teams both won Ocean League championships with a combined record of 19-1.
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