Samohi’s playoff run ends

SAMOHI — Santa Monica’s boys’ basketball team scored only 11 points in the third quarter and fell to the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars, 74-56, in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs on Tuesday night.

Sophomore guard Jonah Mathews led the Samohi Vikings with 20 points while senior guard Ray Mancini added 17.

For the Cougars, senior forward Daylan Lawrence led all scorers with 25 points.

The loss marks the end of a season in which the Vikings finished with an overall record of 17-10, going 8-2 in Ocean League play.

Samohi head coach James Hecht recalled only positives when he looked back on the year.

“I thought we had a good year,” Hecht said. “I think we learned a lot. I think we grew a lot as a team considering the number of players that we had new to varsity basketball.”

The Vikings got off to a slow start and were forced to take a time-out after Rancho Cucamonga held an early 8-1 lead by capitalizing on Samohi’s turnovers. Late in the first quarter, Mathews scored off an assist by Mancini, which brought the Cougar lead down to four.

Mathews, who only had two first-quarter points, got going in the second frame, scoring eight of his 10 first-half points in the quarter. The Vikings were able to cut their deficit to two after sophomore forward Mikhail Brown made a layup, bringing to the score to 25-23 in favor of the Cougars.

Rancho Cucamonoga led at the half, 40-32.

Then the third quarter happened. The Cougars started off by opening up a 13-point lead after senior guard Victor Joseph converted a layup. Samohi answered with two back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Chris Johnson and Mathews, but Rancho Cucamonga ripped a 16-4 run down Santa Monica’s throat to end the frame with a 62-43 lead.

“A lot of our turnovers unfortunately led to baskets by them, and I think we got a little deflated,” Hecht said about his team’s third-quarter struggles. “I called time-outs, tried to calm us down a little bit. But I just think some of those turnovers that led to baskets for them were momentum killers.”

The Cougars kept their foot on the gas in the final stanza and wouldn’t let Samohi get close. On one Vikings possession, senior guard Nick Culver started a Rancho Cucamonga fast break with a blocked shot which led to a one-handed throw down by Lawrence at the other end.

Mancini said Samohi’s high turnover rate in Tuesday’s game had more to do with their offense than the Cougars’ defense.

“We were rushing a little bit too much,” Mancini said. “We were trying to be one-on-five instead of sharing the ball. We were just trying to go too fast and trying to shut the crowd up.”

On Friday, Samohi torched the Montebello Oilers by 31 points in the first found of the playoffs. Mancini said the difference between the two games was the team shared the ball more.

“The first game, we had three, four players in double digits,” Mancini said. “We just played freely. We cared for each other and just played for each other.”

Hecht said when the dust of the loss settles, his team can take a step back and look fondly at their success throughout the year.

“I think we could be proud of what we accomplished,” Hecht said. “Third year in a row winning league, second round of the playoffs. We fought the fight.”



Basketball: Samohi finishes fourth in tourney

SAMOHI — The Santa Monica Vikings took fourth place in the Santa Monica Tournament with a 68-60 loss to the Fairfax Lions on Saturday night at home.

Samohi sophomore guard Jonah Mathews led the way for the Vikings with a game-high 22 points while senior guard Victor Costa chipped in with 15 off the bench.

Sophomore guard Antoine Monroe had 20 points to lead the Lions and senior guard Sage Woodruff added 17 points.

Mathews dominated the first quarter, starting with a four-point play after getting fouled and draining a shot from downtown. Fairfax shot back with a 5-0 run to take the lead, but the frame was close throughout, ending in a 15-14 Lions lead.

Mathews had 12 points in the opening quarter, but just 10 points the rest of the game.

“They just face-guarded him and tried to frustrate him,” Samohi head coach James Hecht said. “They didn’t make it easy for him to get open looks or to catch the ball. It was a good game plan.”

Fairfax came out in the second quarter with four straight points in less than a minute, forcing a Vikings timeout. The Lions extended their lead to 27-18 with a 12-4 run.

But Samohi increased their defensive intensity, forcing turnovers and scoring as a result. Senior guard Chris Johnson’s free throw capped a 9-0 Vikings run to tie the game at 27.

Fairfax answered Samohi’s spurt with two 3-pointers by Monroe and a bucket by sophomore forward/center Babacar Thiombane to end the half with a 35-31 advantage.

The game remained contentious in the third. Mathews pulled the Vikings to within two with a 3-pointer, but was immediately answered by Woodruff’s shot from beyond the arc. On one Lions possession, Samohi was able to intercept a pass and ignite a fast break, but then turned the ball over, leading to a basket for Fairfax and a 43-36 deficit.

“We played really hard together, but tonight, there were three or four possessions where we didn’t find our man or we didn’t rotate and those were buckets that (the Lions) got,” Mathews said.

Samohi made some noise late in the quarter when senior guard Ray Mancini stole the ball and knocked down an elbow jumper to cut the Lion lead to just one. But Fairfax answered again, putting together a 6-0 run and ending the frame leading 52-45.

The Vikings cut the deficit to three in the fourth after a pair of Costa free throws, but Fairfax ran off an 8-2 run punctuated by a vicious two-hand dunk by senior forward/center Oleesameeka Nwachee, sealing the victory.

The Vikings stumbled in the face of pressure defense from the Lions all night, often having trouble getting the ball across mid court.

“They were just trying to disrupt our flow and it took us a while to adjust to that,” Hecht said. “I thought as the game went on, our execution got better.”

Mathews feels that these last two losses can teach the team to be better in the future. Samohi is now 2-2 on the season.

“We need to become more mentally tough,” Mathews said. “Two losses can get you mentally. We just need to come together as a unit and play together to win the next two games.”

Local company a lone wolf in animal stock footage

DOWNTOWN — Imagine the ability to have a lion roaming through the streets of Paris, or an elephant eating in an African jungle — all without having to leave the comfort of an editing bay.

A local Santa Monica company is making that happen by using the latest green-screen technology and a few furry friends.

Green Screen Animals ( offers stock footage of all kinds of wildlife for those who find it too expensive or time consuming to film it themselves.

Several years ago, Mark Shockley used to help his wife Laura, an animal trainer at the time, feed and clean up after animals like lions and tigers after leaving his day job in production.

Shockley came up with the idea for Green Screen Animals in 2006 after a walk on the beach and an “aha moment” that led him to decide to merge his two passions — production and animals.

“It really gave me chills,” said Shockley, president and co-founder of the company. “I thought this is the deal, this could be really, really good and fulfilling at the same time. Thus far, it’s been fantastic.”

He then sought the help of Westley Koenen, senior vice president of Mastercard Worldwide, who joined the project immediately.

So far, the company’s clients have included “The Tonight Show,” “Jimmy Kimmell Live,” various ad agencies, producers of YouTube content, and “a handful of Disney shows,” Shockley said.

A lot of business comes from kid-themed television shows.

“Kids love animals,” he said. “I just think there’s something about it and even when adults see animals, it brings out the kid in us. They’re just so wonderful.”

Shockley said that the bear was the most requested animal, followed by the lion and the elephant.

“Adding a lion or a grizzly bear in your video, man, it increases your production value like tenfold,” he said. “All of a sudden, it makes it look like a giant budget spot.”

The company decided to license and own all the footage they create after their contract ended with Getty Images.

Movie studios often elect to use animals in films, a practice that can sometimes result in injury for the four-legged actors.

To minimize injuries, Green Screen Animals works with the American Humane Association to ensure that no animals are harmed during the production process. The association has been supervising films that use animals since 1939, providing movie sets with “Certified Animal Safety Representatives” that have extensive experience with “animal-related work,” according to their website.

Shockley feels buying stock footage saves filmmakers time, energy and money.

“Quite often when somebody’s in that production mode, they just need it now,” he said. “They just need to get their fix at that moment and if they can go online and look at some clips, that certainly helps save them so much time.”

Salvador Carrasco, professor of film at Santa Monica College, agrees with Shockley.

“The biggest advantage of the green screen technology is cost-effectiveness,” Carrasco said. “As a filmmaker, you need to find a balance between authenticity and practicality. If you want to have animals in your film but can’t afford it, it would be more advantageous for you to use stock footage than to cut the scene out entirely.”

While Carrasco said that there is “definitely” a market for this type of footage, he feels the authenticity of having an animal actually on set “cannot be beat.”

For Shockley, seeing the finished product on a commercial makes it all worth it.

“I really get excited when I see people using this stuff,” Shockley said. “That, to me, is the biggest payoff.”

Shockley said his team films one or two shoots ever year. In between, the company focuses on getting the clips online-ready and selling them to clients.

“It’s funny because people have this image of us doing all this fun animal stuff all the time,” Shockley said.

The online library of critters and creatures, which currently has close to 4,000 clips in full HD, 2K and 4K resolution, is updated once a year.

Pricing for the animal footage ranges from $500 to $4,000 depending on whether a client wants to use it for the web or a worldwide commercial.

Civic to have one more show

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will perform a farewell concert for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Saturday, May 25, before the historic venue closes at the end of June.

The concert will feature works from renowned compos- er Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, such as movements from “The Sleeping Beauty Ballet” and his “Fifth Symphony.” The finale of the “1812 Overture” will end the concert.

Santa Monica resident, professor of cello at UCLA and Grammy Award-winner Antonio Lysy will be a featured soloist.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. The auditorium is located at 1855 Main St. For more infor- mation, visit

The City Council in October of last year voted to shut- ter the landmarked structure after it felt that it could no longer afford the $2 million a year that would be required to keep the auditorium running while officials tried to find the $50 million needed to renovate it. The council planned to use redevelopment money to renovate the Civic before redevelopment agencies across California were killed to close the state’s budget gap.

“This is a huge loss for our community,” said Guido Lamell, the symphony’s music director. “The Civic Auditorium has a rich history of service to our city and to Los Angeles.”

Brief: Fire captain to be honored

Santa Monica Fire Capt. Jerry Parker will be honored by the Los Angeles Medical Services for his 39 years serving the public as a paramedic.

Parker started his career with the SMFD in 1972 and began attending paramedic training two years later. To this day he still maintains his paramedic certification by keeping up with his training.

The SMFD was the first fire department in the country to provide paramedic response via a fire engine, officials said.

The ceremony will take place on May 15 in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Local nonprofit looking for young musicians

Elemental Strings is inviting students in third or fourth grade who play woodwind, brass or percussion instruments with a minimum of eight months experience to audition for Elemental Band.

Auditions will take place Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Will Rogers Elementary School, located at 2401 14th St.

The band, which will be forming for the first time for the 2013-14 school year, will be directed by Jessica Swift, an elementary music teacher for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Other music teachers will also join the team.

The Elemental Strings Orchestra Program currently runs two ensembles — Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonia. Students rehearse weekly at John Adams Middle School, under the direction of Jason Aiello, assistant director of orchestras at Santa Monica High School, and Josephine Moerschel.

Over 400 students in the community have been part of Elemental Strings since its inception in 2004, officials with the nonprofit said.

Elemental Strings is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality music instruc- tion to young musicians through a youth orchestra/band environment, according to their website.

For more information, visit

Malibu school district advocates meet

The Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, AMPS, will hold a meeting today at 7 p.m. to gain support for their efforts to separate the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Karen Farrer, founding member of AMPS, is calling to arms families and communities from Malibu and Santa Monica in order to help spread AMPS’ message.

“The schools in both Malibu and Santa Monica would be financially better off if we sep- arate,” Farrer said in an e-mail. “Malibu would have substantially more funds and the abil- ity to control the direction of our kids’ education. Santa Monica would have more fund- ing as well. Malibu would be able to create an exceptional school district based upon Malibu values. Santa Monica would be able to focus on its own agenda and goals without the distraction of Malibu.”

With a separate school district, AMPS wants to create smaller class sizes, bring in new technologies to the classroom, have more resources for academically-struggling stu- dents, and more.

Within the past week, AMPS has funded studies, to be conducted by research consult- ant WestEd, to work out the details of separation.

The meeting will be held at Malibu City Hall, which is located at 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.