Last season, Santa Monica High School’s boys basketball team went 26-8 and a perfect 10-0 in Ocean League before making a deep playoff run. With a depleted roster thanks to many graduates, a youthful Viking squad scrimmaged against Loyola High School’s team on Nov. 23 and when it was all over, Samohi head coach James Hecht had a lengthy meeting with his players and emerged to say that he still hasn’t picked a team captain – or captains.
“I’m still hoping a senior will emerge,” Hecht said.
With four seniors, seven sophomores, and three juniors on the roster, Hecht, entering his 17th year of coaching at Samohi, said his team is young and the players may not “know how hard they’ll have to play” just yet.
“We’re going to encounter a lot of growing pains,” he said. “We are not nearly as physical as we need to be.”
During the scrimmage, Samohi combo guard Jordan Matthews displayed a consistent mid-range game, hitting a jump shot after getting a defender to go for a fake. Matthews, the son of UCLA mens basketball assistant coach Phil Matthews, also rebounded well. The other Vikings provided hard-nosed, if not consistent, play inside. Inside, Loyola had its way with Samohi’s center, who was stripped of the ball often.
Sophomore Chaz Thomas, a varsity football player who saw virtually no playing time at the quarterback position, dressed for the game. He has only been with the team for several weeks, Hecht said.
Hecht acknowledged Loyola’s supremacy and explained his rationale for scrimmaging against them.
“They’re one of the premier programs in southern California,” Hecht said. “I always feel they’ll be a good test for our guys.”
Santa Monica begins its season in earnest at the 59th Annual Pacific Shores Tournament at Redondo Union and Mira Costa high schools. Pacific Shores features 16 teams including powers Compton Centennial and Mayfair.
“Our schedule is not very forgiving,” said head coach James Hecht. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”