SAMOHI ‚Äî What many consider the greatest season in Santa Monica boys‚Äô basketball history keeps getting better.
Senior guard Jordan Mathews was named the CIF-Southern Section Division 1A Player of the Year and James Hecht earned Coach of the Year honors, it was announced this week.
Besides the top honors for Mathews and Hecht, point guard Trevis Jackson was named to the all-division first team. Forward Chris Smith and guard Erron Vaughn were second team selections.
“We had a great season,” said Mathews, who has signed to play for UC Berkeley next year. “We surpassed what people expected of us.”
The awards come on the heels of an Ocean League title, CIF-SS Division 1A championship and appearance in the CIF State championship game as the Southern California regional representative.
In addition to all the banners and hardware, Samohi racked up a school record 29 wins against seven losses.
Word of the all-division selections came just days removed from Samohi‚Äôs loss in the state final to Pleasant Grove.
“After the game, I was in tears like the rest of my team,” Jackson said of the moments after last Friday‚Äôs loss in Sacramento. “We sat in the locker room for a good hour reminiscing on all the things that happened to us this season.
“It‚Äôs OK to be sad with how things ended, but it‚Äôs better to be happy with how things went.”
The loss still stings, but to a man, the Vikings from Santa Monica were overwhelmed by the support from the community during their deep run into the postseason.
“I want to thank the students and the school,” Hecht said. “We couldn‚Äôt have accomplished any of this without the support of our fans, school and the city of Santa Monica.”
The Vikings grew accustomed to a packed gym that featured a particularly raucous student section as they made their way through the playoffs.
While Hecht said that the individual nod as coach of the year was an honor, he humbly gives most of the credit to his assistants.
Hecht singled out Brian Part, Shaun Higgins, Les Fukuyama, Rafael Hernandez and Brian Tickler as the engine behind Samohi‚Äôs historic run.
“Their dedication and their time commitment was awesome,” Hecht said of his crew. “I‚Äôm very fortunate to have them on staff. I call them the unsung heroes.”
Next for Jackson is deciding how to continue his basketball career into college. He‚Äôs been recruited by the University of La Verne and has talked to a number of other schools, but he‚Äôs not sure what to do.
“It‚Äôs more like a waiting game,” Jackson said. “I‚Äôm still trying to decide.”