HAWTHORNE — The boys from Samohi have earned at least a share of the Ocean League title, but it’s somewhat complicated.
The combination of a win over Morningside and an Inglewood loss on Tuesday gives Santa Monica’s boys’ basketball team sole possession of first place and a direct line to the crown.
The 63-52 win at Morningside improves the Vikings to 8-1 in league, while Inglewood’s loss to Beverly Hills sends them to 7-2.
With one to play, the teams could end the season both 8-2 depending on the outcomes of tonight’s games, but Samohi won a tie breaker that would make them the league champs in the eyes of the CIF-Southern Section.
That would give them a first round home game in the playoffs, which begin next week.
But, if Samohi can dispatch 0-9 Hawthorne tonight on the road, it doesn’t matter what Inglewood does. That’s the scenario that Head Coach James Hecht would prefer.
“It’s nice to know that either way we will represent the league,” he said, “but we want to finish the regular season properly.”
Careful to not overlook winless Hawthorne, Hecht is stressing to his team that a win would end any doubt that they are league champs.
“[Hawthorne] is going to be scrappy,” he said. “They don’t have any quit in them.”
Hecht is particularly mindful that a win over Samohi would make Hawthorne’s season, something he wants to avoid if at all possible.
“We want to go into the playoffs with some momentum,” he said. “A loss would hurt our playoff seeding. Winning can only help.”
As was the case for the entire season, Samohi, ranked No. 6 in the CIF-SS Division 1AA poll, was again led by junior guard Jordan Mathews, who paced the team with 23 points against Morningside.
While Mathews is the focal point of the offense, the emergence of suitable running mates this season has taken some of the load off of the talented guard.
Players like seniors Trey Thompson, who returned to the team after playing in the Bay Area last year, and Jordan Walker give teams who key on Mathews fits.
“If you double-team Jordan, you leave somebody open who can make you pay,” Hecht said.