Going undefeated in the Ocean League earned first round CIF basketball playoff home games for the Santa Monica High boys and girls teams.
The CIF, however, was more impressed with the girls’ 20-6 record.
Although the boys have the same record they were seeded only No. 8. Coach James Hecht’s squad was matched against Quartz Hill Wednesday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m.
The next night, on Thursday, the Samohi girls will be the No. 2 seed, also in 1-A, as they host Arcadia at 7 p.m. Canyon Springs, which eliminated Santa Monica in the semi-finals last season, is seeded No. 1.
Two other powerhouses who were recently on Samohi’s schedule, Mater Dei and Troy, are in other divisions. Samohi won at Troy and lost at home to Mater Dei.
In the playoffs it will be determined if Samohi coach Marty Verdugo had enough time to make the arrival of late season transfers Moriah Faulk and Banika Baltizar such an upgrade that made the Vikings a champioship team. The newcomers joined Thea Lemberger, Katrina Johnson, Lilly Feder, and Sabrina Norton to form an inposing starting lineup with one quality substitute. Others have plated well too..
James Hecht, the Samohi boys coach, said the team’s slow start, in which they began the season 1-3, may have been a factor in their lower than expected seeding. The slow start apparently stood out in the minds of selection committee members more than Samohi winning 15 of its last 16 games.
“At this stage of the season we’re just happy to be chosen for the playoffs,” said Hecht. “But we’ll use the seeding for motivation.”
Last season Samohi reached the playoff semi-finals before losing to Tesoro.
Hecht consistently fields teams who win about 20 games, and this is a group that adapted well to his full-court press. Opponents have had a hard time escaping the Vikings’ constant pressure.
Quartz Hill, which has had a losing season, will have to adjust quickly to make a game of the first round matchup.
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