It was another special night in the St. Monica gym, a highly vocal capacity crowd experiencing a CIF playoff game.
But unlike the Mariners’ second round victory, the third round game on Tuesday, February 24 resulted in a defeat.
Underdog St. Monica was in contention to the finish but was eliminated by Woodcrest Christian of Riverside, 72-69.
In Coach Tony Depa’s sixth season the Mariners finished 19-9, and the team has won more games each season than the year before. The 2008 Mariners won 18 games.
Following four dismal football seasons with one win and 37 losses St. Monica fans could enjoy success in winter sports. The Mariner boys and girls basketball teams and boys and girls soccer teams all made the playoffs.
The third round boys basketball playoff game represented a major challenge, with St. Monica’s main hope being the home-court advantage against a higher seeded opponent.
St. Monica fell 12 points behind, came within five in the final minute, stole the ball twice and had a three-point shot at the final buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime but it didn’t come close.
Guard Ryan Capiro continued his recent elevated play by scoring 19 points and forward James Ward contributed 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
“They had two exceptional players, probably the two best we played against all season,” said Depa. “They seemed on the verge of breaking the game open but we hung in there.”
Guard Ryan Featherston scored eight straight points to trigger a second half comeback.
Depa expects to have another formidable team next season with Capiro, 6-foot-2 Richard Gibson and Featherston leading the way and help arriving from St. Monica lower level teams. Three seniors will move on, the most notable one being Ward.
The future looks bright with a gymnasium renovation planned.
Depa played high school basketball in Louisiana and collegiately at Kansas Wesleyan. When he sought employment he set his sights on West Los Angeles.
“I had one stipulation — that the school was in the 310 area code,” he said. “I applied and the previous coach, Chris Yocum, arranged for me to have an interview.”
St. Monica has had a proud basketball tradition and Depa is keeping it going with talented and dedicated players.
He is also a geometry teacher at St. Monica.