SAMOHI — Santa Monica boys’ basketball opened its annual “The Tournament” in style, making easy work of Oaks Christian, 63-49, on Monday at home.
Oaks Christian was able to bridge the gap late in the game, much to the consternation of Samohi head coach James Hecht, who was upset that his team strayed from the fluid offense that got the Vikings off to a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Samohi came out firing with senior shooting guard and Cal signee Jordan Mathews pacing the offense with 14 first-quarter points en route to 26 on the night.
Oaks Christian was led by Anson Moye’s 14 points. KJ Smith, son of NBA champion and commentator Kenny Smith, chipped in 12 from the guard position.
The Samohi win sets up a second-round matchup with Crenshaw on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“We weren’t sharing the ball as much,” Mathews said of the late-game letdown. “But we’ll fix it by Wednesday.”
Crenshaw advanced with a tough 56-49 win over recent rival Palisades. The two have met in the CIF-City Section playoffs the past few years with both teams notching wins.
Despite the seemingly easy victory over Oaks Christian, Mathews and Hecht are reluctant to consider Wednesday’s tilt a done deal.
Crenshaw and their height in the interior ultimately wore Palisades down, something that has the attention of the long-time Samohi coach.
“They concern me,” Hecht said. “They like to play up-tempo and they rebound very well.”
Samohi big men, led by senior forward Chris Smith, who scored 10 points and played stout defense against Oaks Christian, will be called on to slow Crenshaw’s high-octane offense. Smith was the lone post player in the starting lineup for Samohi on Monday, pairing with four guards.
This lineup gives the Vikings plenty of speed on the perimeter, but little size up front. Senior forward Spencer Cramer was able to come off the bench to aid Smith, a trend that should continue against Crenshaw.
Samohi’s win on Monday continues the Vikings’ strong start. They are 4-1 including a win over perennial powerhouse Fairfax. They entered the week ranked No. 14 in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports.
The Vikings’ lone loss came against Loyola, who they could potentially face in the third round if both teams prevail on Wednesday. Loyola cruised to a 61-39 win over Cleveland on Monday. Loyola faces Brentwood on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.