SAMOHI — A slow start to the season had Head Coach James Hecht scratching his head.
Despite returning a starting lineup stocked with players with varsity experience, Santa Monica High School’s boys basketball team limped out to a 1-3 start, giving the long-time coach reason to wonder what was wrong.
Hecht didn’t have to wait long for things to turn around. His team went on a three-game winning streak — thanks, in part, to the balanced scoring of Corey Walker, Soloman Singer and James Montgomery — and have shown the grit that an experienced team is supposed to exhibit. The team is currently on its second winning streak of the season, this time a seven-game run that Hecht hopes to extend to eight tonight at home against Ocean League rival Beverly Hills.
“We’ve been trying to get better,” Hecht said. “There are areas we need to improve as always, but it has been very enjoyable because the guys show a genuine care for each other.”
Despite having a 0-2 league record, Hecht said he isn’t looking past the Normans. He expects Beverly Hills to be physical as always, but feels that his Vikings have the depth to overcome the Normans’ scrappy play.
With a win, the Vikings (12-5 overall, 2-0 in league) would improve their playoff hopes. The team finished third in league last season, yet made it all the way to the semi-finals of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section playoffs, a feat Hecht hopes to repeat.
“I think we have a chance,” he said. “We’re part of the conversation.”
Viking girls prepare for Beverly Hills<p>
Coming off an up-and-down weekend that saw Samohi beat chief Ocean League rival Inglewood on Friday and lose on a buzzer beater to Bell-Jeff on Saturday, Samohi’s girls basketball team will finally get an opportunity to focus on league rivals for the next week starting with Beverly Hills tonight at home.
Samohi Head Coach Marty Verdugo said that a depleted Beverly Hills team is beatable, but he’ll need a unified effort from his squad to chalk up the win.
“[The buzzer beater against Bell-Jeff] was disappointing,” Verdugo said. “We had every chance in the world to win it. We just didn’t finish it like we know we should.”
Despite the close loss on Saturday, Verdugo is optimistic.
“We’re going to bounce back,” Verdugo said. “It’s not like it’s the last game of the season.”