It is one of the greatest victories in James Hecht’s 16 years as the Santa Monica High boys basketball coach.
The eighth-seeded Vikings went to Chino Hills Tuesday night and upset the top seed, 40-39. Samohi moves on to the Division 1A semi-finals Friday night against Colony, the No. 4 seed. In the other semi-final Leuzinger will oppose Loyola..
It seemed that Samohi was seeded too low after winning 15 of its last 16 games entering the playoffs. There was no dispute about Chino Hills being No. 1 because it had a 26-2 record.
Both teams had gone undefeated in their leagues and rather than complain about the low seeding, Hecht said he would use it as motivation.
“We thought Chino Hills is a fine team and we’re a fine team and whoever executes best would win the game,” he said.
There was no reason for the Vikings to be intimidated because their suffocating pressure defense had consistently caused problems for opponents.
The starting five of Solomon Singer, James Montgomery, Harry Horn, Cory Walker and Danilo Toscovic was athletic and experienced.
Now Samohi will try to win a CIF championship for the first time with Hecht as coach.
Awaiting First Playoff Road Test
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written before the results of Samohi’s win in Chino Hills Tuesday night.
After easily brushing off two outclassed opponents in the CIF Division 1 basketball playoffs, the Santa Monica High boys awaited their first test Tuesday night, February 23 at No. 1 seed Chino Hills. Tipoff was scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Vikings dismissed second round opponent Dana Hills, 63-39, on Friday night as Cory Walker scored 21 points, Danilo Toscovic contributed 19, and James Montgomery 14.
“The crowd in our gym was fantastic,” said Coach James Hecht. “It was a great high school experience.”
Chino Hills has a 26-2 record. Samohi is 22-6 and is seeded only eighth. With the unexpected low seed Samohi has to play the division favorite early in the tournament.
The game will provide the answer to whether Samohi deserved to be seeded higher.
“We rarely talk about seedings because in oeder to win the tournament you have to eventually beat whatever good teams you’re scheduled against,” said Hecht. “But we are using this seeding as motivation.
“We feel Chino Hills is a very good team and so are we.”
Chino Hills is led by Derek Brown, a four-year starter at point guard who has committed to play at San Jose State.
Loyola is the No. 2 seed and Bay League champion Leuzinger is No. 3.
After winning its first five games, Chino Hills lost the next two but has won all the rest, mostly by lopsided scores.
Two years ago Chino Hills eliminated Samohi in the tournament quarter-finals.