Santa Monica High girls basketball coach Marty Verdugo arranged a challenging schedule this season to prepare his team for the playoffs.
It’s paying off.
Samohi not only won the CIF 1-A championship but also won its state tournament first round game Tuesday night, 56-39 from LA City Section runnerup Narbonne.
The Samohi gym was packed and is expected to be packed again tonight (Thursday) for a second round game against Canyon sprungs. the winner of that game will have another one Saturday.
“We accomplished our season-long goals, which included winning the CIF,” said Verdugo. “But we have another one now. I think we can win this thing.”
Forward Moriah Faulk was Samohi’s high scorer against Narbonne with 17 points. Star guard Thea Lemberger didn’t have a dominant game but scored 16.
Samohi (27-6) benefitted from having the experience of playing in the state tournament last season, when it lost in the first round to eventual champion Long Beach Poly.
“We hadn’t been in the state tournament and it showed,” said Narbonne coach Victoria Sanders. Narbonne scored only three points in the second quarter and just 11 in the first half.
Narbonne reached the LA City Section championship game last week, where it lost to Carson. As a result Narbonne concluded its season with a two-game losing streak and 22-11 overall record.
The competition improves in every round and Verdugo has schooled his players to bring defensive intensity to each game.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders right now,” he said.
He’s also grateful for outstanding fan support. Following a pre-game rally Tuesday, Samohi spectators filled the seats.
Beginning with a league showdiwn with Inglewood and continuing with a non-league game against Mater Dei, Samohi girls basketball emtered a level of unprecedented support.
Inglewood, which finished second to Samohi in the Ocean League, was placed in Division 3 for the CIF playoffs and energed as champion.
Our league was very strong and that also prepared us for the playoffs,” said Verdugo.
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