SAMOHI — Samohi survived a sluggish start and a wild finish Friday to advance to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs.
Santa Monica High School’s No. 6 seeded boys’ basketball team, the favorite going into the game, could only muster 5 points in the first quarter and had to play catch-up against Riverside Roosevelt. The Vikings would eventually outlast Roosevelt in the game’s final minutes, 47-44, but it wasn’t without some uneasiness on the Samohi sideline.
“We got a little nervous there,” Head Coach James Hecht said. “But, once we started making shots I think our guys relaxed a bit.”
The Vikings were so cold offensively during the first quarter that it took a 3-pointer by junior Jordan Mathews with a second to go in the period to bring the game to 12-5.
The Vikings trailed until midway through the second quarter when Mathews struck again with another 3-pointer to tie it at 14-14.
Three straight baskets by Samohi’s Jordan Walker, Trey Thompson and Kyle Banks built the lead to 20-14. Samohi would reached half-time with a 22-16 lead, but Roosevelt, the third place finisher in the Big VIII League, would tie the game again, this time at 26-26, after a pair of successful free throws by Shawn Joseph.
The teams would battle back and forth with Roosevelt holding a 30-29 lead at the end of three quarters.
The game stayed nip and tuck until the final minutes when things got really interesting.
After six minutes of play in the fourth, the game was far from decided. Roosevelt took a lead with two minutes left in the game after Kendall Brown sunk a short jumper.
Samohi’s Thompson responded with a bucket of his own, but the best from him was yet to come. It was Thompson’s two free throws with 24 seconds left in the game that would ultimately ice the game as the Vikings advance to round two on Tuesday at Silverado.
“All season long I’ve been struggling on the line,” said Thompson, who finished the night with 10 points. “But, I knew we had to make plays.”
Samohi’s ability to rally didn’t come as a surprise to Roosevelt head coach Romone Neal.
“We executed our defensive game plan early, but we got away from it late,” Neal said. “But, [the Vikings] are a good team. They’ll do well in the playoffs.”
With Tuesday’s second round on the road at Victorville, school officials will make a rooter bus available to Samohi fans willing to make the trip.
Samohi will face a Silverado team that dispatched Highland, 78-52, on Friday to advance. Silverado is the No. 11 seeded team in the division.
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.