ANAHEIM, Calif. ‚Äî For the first time since 1987, Santa Monica‚Äôs boys‚Äô basketball team is a CIF-Southern Section champion.
Samohi point guard Trevis Jackson led the Vikings with 17 points as he orchestrated the offense to a 66-56 victory Saturday in the final of the CIF-SS Division 1A playoffs at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Jordan Mathews, who has signed to play for Cal next season, was the second leading scorer with 13.
“I‚Äôm proud of our guys,” said Samohi head coach James Hecht. “They weathered a few storms tonight.”
The Vikings were in control at the half, up 28-13. But, El Toro rallied, eventually bringing Samohi‚Äôs lead down to just three in the fourth quarter.
But Jackson and Co. were able to hold off El Toro‚Äôs mad push led by point guard George Buaku.
Despite an off shooting night, Mathews was instrumental in holding the lead late in the game with four key free throws and a driving lay-up between two defenders that buoyed the Vikings.
“There will be nights when they double and triple team you,” Mathews said. “I just had to remain patient.”
Through three quarters it was all Santa Monica, but the fourth quarter nearly belonged to El Toro. A more aggressive Buaku took it on himself to make it a game.
Buaku totaled 8 fourth quarter points as his teammates struggled from the field in the arena setting.
All told, El Toro finished the night 2 for 24 on three point attempts. It was disheartening for El Toro head coach Todd Dixon, who has relied on the long ball all season as he led his No. 1 seeded team to the final.
“Playing in an arena did affect us,” Dixon said. “I never thought we would shoot that poorly.”
The perimeter game may not have been working for El Toro, but their game plan for bottling up Mathews worked like a charm most of the contest.
Mathews, who led the team with a 24 point average this year, was 4 of 18 shooting and wasn‚Äôt much of a scoring factor until late in the game. While Mathews wasn‚Äôt himself on offense, his defense and rebounding complimented Jackson‚Äôs scoring punch and court savvy.
“If you would have said that we‚Äôd hold him to 13, I would have said that we did a pretty good job,” Dixon said of Mathews.
Samohi‚Äôs Hecht said that Mathews should have taken it as a compliment that El Toro was focusing so much defensive energy on him.
“All the years I played high school and college basketball, the other team was never talking about me in their locker room,” Hecht joked.
For Jackson, he was just happy to step up in the place of Mathews on offense. Once he saw how the game was taking shape, he relied on the lessons he‚Äôs learned from watching Mathews the three seasons they have played together.
“Trevis Jackson, he carried us tonight,” Hecht said. “When times got a little rough and El Toro went on some runs, he was the stabilizing force for us. As a point guard, as a senior captain, I couldn‚Äôt be more proud.”
In addition to the team, Jackson said he did it for his city.
“I take pride in going to Santa Monica High School,” Jackson said. “It means a lot to the city. I knew that I had to make a mark for myself.”
Next for Samohi is the CIF-State Division 1 Basketball Championships. Samohi hosts Narbonne on Wednesday at 7 p.m.