SAMOHI — The Vikings reward for beating a scrappy Cleveland team 60-47 on Monday is a matchup with the vaunted boys’ basketball team from Fairfax.
Santa Monica’s win over Cleveland in the first round of the second annual “The Tournament” was a sound victory — on paper. But, it didn’t come without a struggle.
Cleveland actually held a 17-14 lead in the first quarter, but Samohi, led by Trey Thompson, quickly erased the lead and built a daunting advantage of their own.
Samohi closed the half up 33-22 and opened it up even further during the third quarter.
At one point, the Vikings led by 26 at 53-27 with just a minute remaining in the third. Cleveland was able to close the gap, entering the fourth down 53-35.
That’s when Samohi’s shooters went cold.
After Samohi junior Jordan Mathews fouled out during the opening minute of the final period, Cleveland was able to come within 11 at 56-45 after Kody Riewthong sunk a 3-pointer with 2:59 remaining in the game.
With momentum on their side and Samohi reeling, Cleveland’s Amit Harel got the ball in the open court and streaking toward the basket for an open dunk, but the ball clanged off the back of the rim for an emphatic miss. The bucket would have made it a 9-point game, but instead, Samohi’s Jordan Walker sank a short jumper to counter Cleveland’s surge, ultimately giving the Vikings the cushion they needed to advance to the second round of their own tourney.
“I’m glad we were able to get that first win,” said Thompson, who finished the night with a team-high 13 points. “But, I felt like we kind of shut down during the fourth quarter.
“They fed off of that.”
The win sets up a meeting with Fairfax, one of the teams favored to win the tournament. The game is scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m.
Head Coach James Hecht was pleased to get the victory, but was far from happy with the way his team finished.
“We didn’t play a complete game,” he said. “We have to remember to play for 32 minutes.”
The win improves Samohi to 3-1 on the young season. Fairfax enters at 4-1.
Both teams are in the L.A. Times’ top 20 poll. Fairfax is ranked 13 and Samohi is 20.