Samohi’s girls basketball team is hoping to advance in the CIF playoffs after a strong season.

With its victory Thursday night over El Segundo High School, Samohi’s girls basketball team finished its Ocean league season undefeated in the division. But the Ocean League champs have their sights set on much more as they prepare for an upcoming push in the playoffs.

Currently ranked number 1 in the Southern Section Division 3AA Girls Basketball Rankings, the Vikings finished their regular season Thursday with an exciting game that almost ended in heartbreak. However, the team was able to remain undefeated in Ocean League play after El Segundo’s 3-point shot bounced out during the final five seconds of the game.

With a respectable overall record of 21 wins and 7 losses this season, Santa Monica High School now hopes to make a deep push in the CIF playoffs, but, before then, the team took some time to reminisce on how far they’ve come.

Forward Iternite Reed, center Chantal Moawad and guard Allison Lee are three of the team’s many seniors who have helped push the Vikings to new heights during their tenure with the team.

“It feels amazing to accomplish a goal that I feel like each and every one of us, especially the seniors, have set out to dol since coming in here as freshmen,” Reed said. “To go from winning four wins a season to all of a sudden winning (21) and then being first in Ocean League on top — it’s a really big accomplishment,” and it wasn’t easy to do.

“We had to work as a team and it wasn’t just about our individual stats,” Reed added. “It was about everyone,” so if a senior’s shot wasn’t falling, then the team could rely on one of its freshman shooters.

“Over the years, I think we’ve developed a lot of great chemistry and we continued to grow as a team more as the seasons went on,” said Lee, who hit two clutch shots in Thursday’s contest to put Samohi ahead.

Even new players, like Chantal Moawad, who transferred to Samohi last year, recognize the close-knit bond that is shared by players in the local program.

“I just love being on the team because the chemistry is great. We always work as teammates, and we just play basketball,” Moawad said. “I know it sounds simple but we’re not selfish, which I think has a big impact and really leads to our success.”

Most players on the team feel if they take the playoffs one game at a time and focus on the specific opponent then they’ll go far in the upcoming postseason, which is a feat the team hopes to achieve because they want to play with each other for as long as possible.

“This is our last year, so it’s really emotional because some of us are going off to different colleges. We’re going to leave and live our lives and this is the last time that we’ll share this moment so I’m personally trying to take it as far as possible,” Reed said. “We already accomplished one goal — winning Ocean League — but I’m trying to do more than that. We have a great team. The freshmen are amazing. We have great team chemistry so I feel like we can play with anyone on the court.”

While his players are eager to see if they have what it takes to make to the championship, Head Coach Doug Kim said he tries not to focus on winning and losing because there’s much more to the game of life.

“I don’t think that stuff matters in the big scheme of things. I think it’s about the development and I think basketball is a wonderful medium that allows young women and men to grow and mature,” Kim said. “And I think that’s been the most beautiful part about watching these kids play.”

The coach added in an interview this week he has great stories of kids who came to tryouts in pajamas and house slippers. Some couldn’t run up and down the court, much less dribble, while others had people tell them they were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

“It was interesting to watch them learn how to be a team, and that’s what’s probably been most important for us,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of schools that espouse this idea of, ‘Hey, we’re family and we’re one unit,’ but to say it is one thing and to do it is another. We really try to live by that and we try to keep each other accountable, both academically and athletically. So that’s where I think that’s maybe where these young women have grown the most.”

Reed agreed as she remembered her behavior during ninth-grade.

“Not only has coach taught me a game, he’s taught me how to be a young successful woman,” Reed said. “So now I’m prepared to go to college and I know how to act and can be independent.”

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