Samohi's Jordan Mathews goes up for a shot against Narbonne on Wednesday. (Photo by Paul Alvarez jr.)

Samohi’s Jordan Mathews goes up for a shot against Narbonne on Wednesday. (Photo by Paul Alvarez jr.)

SAMOHI — Santa Monica boys’ basketball fended off a furious rally by Narbonne Wednesday to escape with a 73-68 win in the first round of the CIF state playoffs at home.

A 24-point lead nearly evaporated late in the game for Samohi, something that head coach James Hecht will surely use as motivation as the Vikings prepare for a second round matchup with nearby Palisades on Saturday at home.

“It is what it is,” Hecht said of his team’s late-game letdown. “Hats off to Narbonne.”

In front of a packed gym, Samohi took command of the game in the second quarter, but Narbonne didn’t let up.

As Samohi’s shooters went cold in the final minutes of the third quarter, Narbonne’s Uchenna Okeneme sparked the Gauchos in mounting a fourth-quarter rally that nearly ended the recently-crowned CIF-Southern Section Division 1A champs’ season.

Hecht said that if the game had lasted just a few minutes longer he feared that Narbonne would have completed the upset of the No. 1 seed in the Southern California bracket of the state playoffs.

“We have things to work on,” Hecht said. “I think we’ll be ready for Palisades on Saturday.”

 

(More to come.)