SMC — Santa Monica High School’s boys basketball team better know how to dance.
Eighth-seeded Samohi secured a spot in the CIF-SS Division 1A Championship by defeating fourth-seeded Colony, 70-51, in front of a capacity crowd at Santa Monica College on Friday.
Samohi raced out to an early double-digit lead, but Colony was able to mount a comeback, making it 49-43 at the end of the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, Colony shaved the lead to 51-47 with 6:35 to play. After turning the ball over on the next possession, Samohi was able to force a defensive stop on Colony setting up a dramatic three-pointer by James Montgomery that put Samohi ahead, 54-47, with 5:25 left on the clock.
From there, Samohi didn’t look back as the Vikings outscored Colony, 16-4, to end the quarter, securing a berth in the finals.
“The kids did a great job,” Samohi Head Coach James Hecht said following the game. “We got some stops and were able to hold them off.”
Samohi will face Leuzinger in the final later this week. The schedule will be released today. The appearance in the finals will be Hecht’s first in his 16 seasons as Samohi’s head coach.
“Words can’t explain how I feel right now,” Hecht said. “This is big for our 10 seniors.”
The night got off to a bad start for Colony. First, the team thought the 7 p.m. game started at 7:30 p.m. Then, to make matters worse, the team’s bus was in a minor accident en route to the site. Colony Head Coach Jerry De Fabiis was visibly upset following the game, but was careful not to blame his team’s performance on the mishaps.
He said that his team’s late game fade had more to do with the energy spent erasing an 18-point first-half lead. Once Colony came to within four late in the game, he said his players were mentally and physically tired and lost their composure as a result.
“We weren’t ready tonight,” De Fabiis said. “But, I don’t’ want to take any credit away from [Santa Monica], they’ve been here before.”
Samohi advanced to the semi-finals last season only to be defeated by Tesoro, 62-58.