Some coaches arrange easy non-league schedules to build an impressive record.
Santa Monica High girls basketball coach Marty Verdugo isn’t in that group. By contrast, he seeks the toughest opposition possible in order to prepare his team for playoff games it may have at the end of the season.
When Santa Monica lost twice in the Redondo Tournament last week it had a 5-3 record going into even more challenges in the upcoming Nike Tournament in Arizona.
But with two talented transfers poised to join the team soon the Vikings figure to be strong in the next few months.
Samohi defeated Palos Verdes in the first round at Redondo, lost to Serra in the second round, then advanced to the championship game, where it lost to Inglewood, 46-37.
Playing its toughest league rival an extra time was just part of the difficult non-league schedule, which Verdugo wanted.
Last season Santa Monica split two league meetings with Inglewood. But Samohi also lost to Beverly Hills and finished second in the league.
Inglewood won the Southern California Regional and qualified for the state tournament. However, four seniors moved on and only one starter returned this season.
But that one starter is Hazel Ramirez, and along with Thea Lemberger they are the best guards in the Ocean League.
Ramirez is leading another fine Inglewood team.
Guard Kristina Johnson of Samohi made the all-tournament team at Redondo.