The strength of Santa Monica High’s boys basketball team most of the season was an aggressive defense that took opponents out of their game.
When the Vikings lost to Leuzinger High of Lawndale in the CIF Division 1-A championship game, 58-39, they were beaten at their own game.
Leuzinger forced 19 turnovers and had the game well under control when Samohi went on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter.
The problem was that Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris Jr. also believes defense is the key to victory. And his players were better able to execute their defense.
Once far behind, Samohi began attempting three-point shots but made only three of 32.
Forward James Montgomery led Samohi with 10 points. Forward Solomon Singer had 11 rebounds as the Vikings’ record became 24-7 going into state tournament play.
Leuzinger won its 20th straight game, a streak that began following a four-game winning streak.
Although Samohi didn’t win the championship, it became the first team in James Hecht’s 16 years as head coach to reach the finals.
“It’s always disappointing to lose, but in time we’ll be able to focus on our body of work,” said Hecht.”I’m very proud of this team.
“We had a great crowd in Anaheim and we couldn’t have succeeded so much this season without the support of the students and the community.”
Hecht thought his players weren’t patient enough on offense against Leuzinger.
“We settled for three-point shots instead of attacking the basket,” he said. “Leuzinger lost in the finals last season and was playing in the Honda Center for the second time. I don’t know if that experience was a factor.”
If Samohi makes the finals next season it will be with a different cast of players. Most of the squad consisted of seniors.
Mirror Sports Editor