With its 49-38 victory over Villa Park High School on Wednesday night, the Santa Monica High School girls’ basketball team secured a spot in the final four of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, and it will now take on Lancaster High School this Saturday at home.

Samohi entered its game against the Spartans on a hot streak, winning three straight CIF matchups as well as its final eight regular season games.

With a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter Wednesday, the team looked like it would once again breeze to victory as it had the round before when it won 44-18, but Villa Park responded well in the second quarter and only four points separated the teams going into the half.

“The momentum was all theirs’,” assistant coach Mark Ulrich said as he described the crazed atmosphere and shaking gym. “Unfazed our kids came out and grabbed the lead and the momentum after the half with stellar defense and rebounding. We kept the lead down the stretch by making our free throws and playing tough Santa Monica Viking defense.”

With its recent success on the road these playoffs, Ulrich described the team as true road warriors who are now moving on to the final four for the first time in 11 years.

Samohi seniors said prior to the playoffs they believed the team has the tools to make it to the championship.

“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,” senior Iternite 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.”

Ulrich added Thursday the team will now turn its focus to Lancaster and its 7 p.m. game on Saturday night.

“We hope the community will come out and support this very strong group of young student-athletes,” Ulrich said. “These girls are fun to watch.”

The winner of Saturday’s Lancaster-Samohi contest will play the victor of the Crean Lutheran High School and Mira Costa High School matchup in the 2020 CIF Southern Section 3AA Championship on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Brennon@smdp.com

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