SAMOHI — A charmed high school career for Santa Monica High School’s Thea Lemberger has resulted in yet another honor.
The senior, bound to play college basketball at UCLA next season, was named to the first team of Cal-Hi Sports’ annual all state team. Friday’s announcement cited Lemberger’s role in leading the Samohi Vikings to their first ever title in girls basketball as one of main reasons she was selected. Her 18-point average didn’t hurt as well.
“It’s an honor,” Lemberger said. “This is another thing to prove that we did well.”
The award is far from the guard’s only notice. Her postseason awards include winning the Ocean League’s Player of the Year and the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division 1A Player of the Year.
This isn’t the first Cal-Hi Sports honor for Samohi this year. Head Coach Marty Verdugo was named Coach of the Year last month. Also, joining Lemberger on the all-state team is junior Moriah Faulk. She was named to the Second Team All-Juniors team after her first season playing for the Vikings.
“I was excited when I heard the news,” Faulk said. “I just came to California and this is sort of a big accomplishment.”
The junior forward transferred from Arizona to the school but had to wait for the CIF to clear her to play. Once added to the roster, Faulk wasted little time earning minutes and was a major contributor for the team during its run to a CIF-SS Division 1A title.
She gave credit for her quick acclimation to teammates, who embraced her from day one.
“When I came in I was kind of nervous,” Faulk said. “But, everyone was really nice.
“That made it easier to have chemistry with the team, making it easier to win games.”
Among Faulk’s closet friends is Lemberger. The two are often seen together at other sports’ games cheering on the Vikings and occasionally dispensing a little light-hearted ribbing of rival players.
“It’s good when two of the best players are going at it [in practice],” Lemberger said of their relationship. “It wasn’t about ego, it was about friends.”
While the Vikings lose Lemberger and fellow senior starter Lilly Feder to graduation, Verdugo and Faulk are excited about the team that returns.
Aside from Faulk, the team returns most of the core players who made 2010 a breakout season. Key returners include juniors Bianka Balthazar and Kristina Johnson, who will team with Faulk to create a formidable squad.
“We’ll see if we can get another [championship] ring,” Verdugo said.