For the first time in 11 years, the girls’ basketball team of Santa Monica High School is headed to the CIF Southern Section 3AA Championship following a victory in the semifinals this past weekend.
With 12 consecutive wins, including four during this year’s postseason, Samohi has been on a tear of late and the team is hoping to continue its success in the upcoming championship matchup against Crean Lutheran High School.
“To watch the development of this team has been a sight to behold. The defensive effort and marksmanship on offense have propelled this team to great heights, and they are certainly playing their best basketball at the right time” Assistant Coach Mark Ulrich said Monday.
“(Head) Coach Douglas Kim and assistant coach Darren Willis have done a terrific job of molding what started as a young, individually talented group of girls — with four new starters — into a championship-caliber team,” Ulrich added. “No matter what happens Saturday, we have all won… The girls have worked very hard and I am sure that the lessons learned in the gym will carry onto their lives as young women and leaders of their own families one day. It has been a magical season and if you can make it to Azusa Pacific University on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. then please come cheer the girls on.”
After Samohi dispatched Villa Park High School during the third round of this year’s postseason, players urged community members to come out and support the local basketball team during its semifinal matchup against Lancaster High School. And that’s exactly what happened as a sizable crowd filled the local gym Saturday night to witness the Vikings secure a spot in the CIF championship game.
After Lancaster scored the first two points of the game this last weekend, the Eagles would not score for the rest of the quarter, according to Ulrich, who said no matter the angle, distance or difficulty, the Vikings, who held an 8-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, had shots falling left and right throughout the game.
The team’s trademark defense was also on display as the Vikings continuously forced Lancaster into traps that resulted in a multitude of turnovers.
A 28-9 halftime lead would grow to 44-18 by the start of the fourth as the girls continued a hot shooting night, Ulrich said, mentioning the 53-27 final score is a true reflection of Santa Monica’s dominance on Saturday night.
The Vikings are now preparing to take on Crean Lutheran this Saturday at 10 a.m., according to CIF organizers. The game is set to occur at Azusa Pacific University, and those who wish to attend can purchase tickets online at bit.ly/CIFsamohi or at the door on the day of the event.
Senior forward Iternite Reed previously said this is the last year for a lot of players on the team, “and this is the last time that we’ll share this moment so I’m personally trying to take it as far as possible…I feel like we can play with anyone on the court.”
Reed added Monday she’s very excited to be in the championship, “and it just shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Fellow senior Chantal Moawad agreed, stating: “Considering all the hard work we put in plus all the issues we overcame this year, it’s a very rewarding feeling to be in the championship game. I think (to be successful) we just need to keep doing what we have been doing this entire playoff run, which is watch film, work hard in practice and come out to the game on Saturday with the drive and motivation to win.”
“I’m really proud of the team and how far we have come this season. We are so close to achieving our goal, and I think we can do it,” Moawad added. “It would be such an honor to represent Samo and win a championship. It would be the first time in 11 years since Samo won a CIF championship, so it feels like we’re making history.”