Now that the Santa Monica High girls’ basketball team has established itself in the Southern California top ten ,an important goal remains to be achieved.
The Vikings, in their quest for a CIF championship, will try to speed up the process of blemding two new players into their system well enough to succeed at the highest level.
Two 5-foot-11 juniors, Moria Faulk and Banika Baltizar, joined the team during the season after transferring from a small school in Arizona. Both have had an impact, but their exact roles have to be polished within Coach Marty Verdugo’s system.
Faulk played her first Samohi game as a guard, but Verdugo soon realized she would help most as a forward to help with rebounding and present matchup problems for opponents.
Baltizar is powerful and gives the Vikings a dimension they didn’t have, moving several opposing coaches to say that Samohi had boosted its chances of advancing through the CIF playoffs.
If all goes well, that could happen after the Vikings wrap up Ocean League play this week with two games. But if Samohi is still trying to figure out how to blend its array of talent, the team could stunble before reaching the late playoff rounds.
Last season Samohi reached the semi-finals. Most recently it saw what onstacles lie ahead by losing a non-league game at home to Mater Dei, 69-57. Mater Dei is one of the playoff favorites, but it has a 47-43 loss to long-time rival Brea-Olinda on its record.
By defeating Troy in another non-league game, Samohi demonstrated its ability to conquer one of its elite opponents.
Samohi passed its severest league test on Wednesday, February 3 by winning at second place Inglewood, 47-42. The Vikings then beat Beverly Hills on Friday, 63-57.
Inglewood won the league championship last season but this time Samohi won both league meetings.
The perception is that Samohi in 2009-2010 is Thea Lemberger’s team. That’s natural because the senior guard headed to UCLA frequently controls play.
However, when Faulk was reluctant to take charge soon after becoming eligible in December, Verdugo told her “this is your team too.”
Mirror Sports Editorsports@smmirror.com