As the playoffs go on, as the competition intensifies, only the elite teams and players remain.
The Santa Monica High girls won 27 of their 34 games this season, but they were defeated in the semifinals of the state Southern California Regional Saturday night when an opposing player came through with a fabulous performance.
Brianna Orlich, a guard who will play for Columbia next season, had 39 points and 13 rebounds to lead Clovis West High to a 61-57 victory
When the game was tied at 48 Orlich scored the next seven points. Samohi rallied within one, but Clovis West made the next five.
After having two home games Samohi had to travel to Fresno. The teams were so evenly matched the home court advantage was a major factor.
The game was the last Thea Lemberger will play for Samohi. The Vikings’ star point guard will be at UCLA next season. And it was the last for forward Lilly Feder, who is going to UC San Diego.
Clovis West advanced to the Regional championship game Saturday night against defending champion Long Beach Poly at USC’s Galen Center.
The loss ended Marty Verdugo’s fourth season as the Samohi girls coach. He has enough returning players next season, led by transfers Moriah Faulk and Bianka Balthazar, to field another strong team.
This one went undefeated in the Ocean League, became the first Samohi girls basketball team to win a CIF championship and added two state tournament wins to its resume.
Plans Underway To Hang Championship Banner
A ceremony to include hanging the girls basketball CIF championship banner is being planned for the Santa Monica high gym in April.
“It probably won’t be until after the spring break, which is at the end of March,” said Coach Marty Verdugo. “We have to get the championship rings first.”
The banner will be the first one ever won by a Samohi team in girls basketball. After winning the CIF championship the girls won two games in the state tournament before losing at Clovis West, 61-57 on Saturday night.
Verdugo is formulating plans for the ceremony to serve as the team’s season-ending banquet.
Mirror Sports Editorsports@smmirror.com