SAMOHI — For nearly five minutes, Santa Monica High School’s boys’ basketball team looked like it had no chance against defending Division 3 state champ Gardena Serra on Tuesday night.
Then, sophomore Jordan Mathews happened.
Mathews, a transfer from Riverside North, scored the first and final points of the night for Samohi as the Vikings ultimately outlasted Serra, 56-54, during the first round of the first annual “The Tournament.”
“I just wanted to win it for the team,” Mathews said. “[Serra] is a good team, I knew we had to do something.”
And something he did.
After falling behind 11-0 midway through the first quarter, Mathews hit a 3-pointer that gave the Vikings their first points of the night and began a comeback that lasted until the waning moments of regulation when Mathews, driving to the basket with 16 seconds left, was fouled by Serra’s Dakari Tucker giving the new Viking a chance to put Samohi up for good.
Mathews, who led all scorers with 21 points, sunk both free throws and the Samohi defense forced Serra to take a bad shot as the buzzer sounded, sending the Vikings to the second round of the tournament they are hosting.
Aside from Mathews, the Samohi comeback was aided by senior guard Holden Foshag, who scored 11 clutch points before fouling out with two minutes left to play. Foshag was pivotal during the fourth quarter as the lanky playmaker scored 5 points in the final period.
Despite the sluggish start, Head Coach James Hecht credited early game adjustments for the reason his Vikings quieted jitters and came back against an elite team.
“Once we hit that first bucket, we relaxed,” Hecht said. “It gave us a feeling that we could climb back into it.”
The win sends the Vikings into the second round of “The Tournament” on Thursday at 8 p.m. on campus. The Vikings will play the winner of the Birmingham/Sheldon game. Results from that game were not available at presstime.