The LookOut sports

Santa Monica Sports Notes

A decade ago Carrick DeHart, a guard from Santa Monica High, led UC Santa Barbara to some memorable 20-victory basketball seasons. But the Gauchos hadn't earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 12 years until Saturday night, when another ex-Samohi guard led them there.

Jacoby Atako, a sophomore who was all-Bay League for Coach James Hecht's Vikings a couple of years ago, starred as UCSB defeated UC Irvine in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals and Utah state in Saturday's championship game at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Atako made two free throws, then broke up Irvine's final play in a 66-61 semifinal victory. He played well in the championship contest as the Guachos won their 20th game and and gained an NCAA Tournament berth by defeating Utah State, 60-56.

``It's unbelievable,'' said Atako. ``I feel like a kid in a candy store''...

San Diego State is another surprise NCAA Tournament participant, earning a berth with a 78-75 victory over UNLV in the Mountain West Tournament championship game Saturday night in Las Vegas. Several of the key Aztec players were recruited by Marvin Menzies, who came to San Diego State following eight years at Santa Monica College. Menzies was John McMullen's lead assistant at SMC and was head coach one year when McMullen took a sabatical. One of Menzies' key signees was 6-8 Randy Holcomb out of Los Angeles City College. Holcomb became the Aztecs' star player...

No Santa Monica school advanced to the championship round of the annual Westside Baseball Tournament. The winners in Saturday night's final games in their divisions were Chatsworth and Canyon Highs...

The Santa Monica College mens and womens' swimming teams won't have home meets this season due to construction of the new campus pool being far behind. Next Friday and Saturday SMC will be at the Cuesta College Invitational...

Santa Monica College came in third in a four-way mens' track meet Saturday. Moorpark won with 76 points, followed by Citrus with 49, SMC with 22 and Valley with 19...

SMC Men Lose, but Season Was a Triumph

By Mitch Chortkoff

The season has ended for the Santa Monica College mens' basketball team, but it was a good one that brings optimism for next year.

After going 8-18 a year ago SMC bounced back with a solid showing, finishing second in the Western State Conference Southern Division and winning a game in the State playoffs.

After eliminating favored Long Beach CC in the first round SMC went to Ventura College on Wednesday and lost, 68-59. It was a competitive game, with the Corsairs trailing by only five points with six minutes left.

SMC had two first team all-conference players, guard Brandon Williams and forwardx Ronald Eskridge, and went 17-14.

Three other Corsairs, Richard Bluette, Marko Mihailovic and Hugo Sterk, were awarded Honorable Mention by the conference.

I have heard that Gonzaza is showing interest in Bluette, but that's just one rumor in the recruiting process.

The season was a triumph for head coach John McMullen and his assistants. In more than 20 years at SMC McMullen has frequently fielded 20-victory teams. But the poor showing last year required a stronger performance this time. SMC came through.

There were many young players in the program and the foundation is set for next season. Eskridge and Mahailovic, who both came from Palisades High, stepped up their play as the season went on and should be key players next season.

In mid-season McMullen suspended several players and established that he wouldn't put up with the breaking of team rules. SMC lost a game to Oxnard by 30 points without the players but McMullen made his point.

``I think we can have some good practices and get ready for conference games,'' he said.

He was right, and the behavior improved. SMC became a team after that and even gave conference champion Valley a scare (SMC lost, 62-60) in their showdown game.

SMC had to play both playoff games on the road. After defeating Long Beach, SMC hoped for a second round game at home. Instead it drew Ventura College, which had a 28-3 record and deserved the home edge.

SMC had a terrible season in football, going 1-9. The strong showing in basketball gave students a source of pride and attendance increased as the season went along.

The SMC womens' team also made the playoffs but lost in the first round at Moorpark College, 73-58.
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