Santa Monica High boys lose in sectional championship

High Schools within the local Argonaut coverage area were well represented earlier this month at the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sectional basketball championships, where three teams captured titles and another fell short in the championship game.

Girls basketball teams from Santa Monica High School and St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey earned Southern Section championships in Division 1A and Division VI-AA respectively, while the Westchester High School boys basketball team continued its reign in Los Angeles with a City Section title. The Santa Monica High boys basketball team was defeated in Coach James Hecht’s first trip to the Southern Section Division 1A championship.

After winning the Ocean League title with an undefeated league record, the second-seeded Samohi girls (26-6) grabbed the school’s first Southern Section trophy with a 69-63 victory over fourth-seeded Summit High School March 4th. The Vikings held a two-point lead after the first quarter and went into halftime with a 40-37 lead. Summit remained close throughout the second half but the Vikings picked up 17 points in the final quarter to take the win.

Moriah Faulk scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the team, while Thea Lemberger scored 18 points and Kristina Johnson added 14 points.

The St. Bernard High girls (19-14) made an impressive turnaround after finishing last in the Camino Real League last year to win the state sectional crown with a dominating 53-31 win over Hillscrest Christian High March 4th. The Vikings had a slow start with five points in the first quarter but scored 13 points in the second to trail by two at halftime.

St. Bernard took control in the second half, limiting Hillscrest to just five and six points in the third and fourth quarters to cruise to victory. Angelica Laury led the scorers with 21 points and Gabrielle Adoh was a key contributor with 13 points and 18 rebounds.

The Westchester High Comets boys basketball squad (27-3), which won the Western League title, defended its City Section championship with a 70-60 victory over Taft High School March 6th.

The two teams were tied at 24 at halftime after matching each other’s scores in both the first and second quarters. But the Comets bolted ahead with 25 points in the third quarter, giving them a cushion to hold off a fourth-quarter charge by Taft.

Dwayne Polee finished with 19 points and ten rebounds to lead the team, Kareem Jamar scored 16 points, Menas Stephens finished with 13 and Jordin Mayes added 12 points in the victory.

The Santa Monica High boys (24-7) were hoping to add a second banner in the school’s gymnasium following the girls’ title. They also captured the Ocean League crown and defeated top-seeded Chino Hills 40-39 in the sectional playoffs but they were overpowered by Leuzinger High in a 58-39 championship loss March 6th.

The Vikings struggled against Leuzinger from the start with just five points in the first quarter and were unable to overcome the 31-15 deficit at halftime. James Montgomery scored a team-high ten points and had eight rebounds, while Corey Walker and Danilo Toskoic each added seven points.