SAMOHI — It’s difficult to console a team that loses in the playoffs, let alone in the semifinals.
The Santa Monica High School girls basketball team may be in line for a booster shot of confidence and another opportunity at a championship if they are selected by the California Interscholastic Federation to take part in a statewide tournament set to begin next Monday and culminate at the Arco Arena in Sacramento.
“We have a good chance at a second life,” Head Coach Marty Verdugo said. “I think we can get one of the four at-large berths.”
The team is collectively crossing their fingers in anticipation of Sunday’s announcement of the brackets. If Samohi is selected to play, games will begin Monday. Verdugo was unsure if his team could qualify for a home game, but is just happy to still be in the mix for a state title.
The Vikings were eliminated from the CIF-SS Division I-A playoffs on Saturday by Canyon Springs. 48-50. Samohi was the no. 2 seed in the division. Canyon Springs, the no. 3 seed, advanced to take on no. 1 seeded Colony on Saturday at Mater Dei High School for the division title. The winner earns an automatic berth in the Southern California side of the state tournament. A total of 16 teams will be selected for the SoCal half of the bracket. Another 16 will come from up north.
“I’m really proud of what the team and Marty [Verdugo] accomplished this season and it would be nice if they got a second chance,” Athletic Director Norm Lacy said.
Lacy added that the boys team, which also lost in the semifinals last weekend, may have a slim chance to qualify for the state tourney as well. He said that the team’s overall record, state ranking and strength of schedule may preclude it from making the cut.
If Verdugo and his team qualify, he said that the players are emotionally ready to put last weekend’s heartbreaking loss behind them and head into the tournament with a measure of confidence.
“All you have to do is get on a roll,” Verdugo said. “You just go out and play. Anything can happen.”
Bolstering his team’s prospects is the return of freshman Sabrina Norton, who broke her wrist early this season and has been on the mend ever since.
“We’re coming in a little fresher than most teams,” Verdugo said of his improved depth. “We need to be ready for that next level of competition.”