ST. ANTHONY — All St. Monica wants for Christmas is to win the St. Anthony Tournament.

In their last action before the holiday break, the Mariners have breezed through the first two rounds of the tournament including a 54-31 win over Animo Leadership on Thursday. The win improved St. Monica’s record to 5-1.

Head Coach Tony Depa was pleased with his team’s overall balanced scoring. Richard Gibson led St. Monica with 12 points.

“I’m feeling pretty good about this year,” Depa said.

With the pair of victories to open the tournament coming relatively easily, Depa believes his team has a chance to walk away with the title. If St. Monica wins it would be their third consecutive St. Anthony Tournament crown.

But, before the Mariners can play for the championship, they will have to contend with the California Academy of Math & Science in the semifinals today. Depa expects CAMS, a team that made it to the semifinals of the playoffs last season, to put up a fight despite the fact that that the Rebels appear to be in a bit of a rebuilding year.

Depa said he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, but he’s looking forward to a potential matchup with St. Anthony in the finals of the tournament.

He wants to see how his team fares against a squad with superior height. With the tallest man on St. Anthony standing 6-foot-8, Depa hopes his team has the gumption to handle the disparity.

While St. Monica’s tallest player is Ryan Featherston, who stands at 6-foot-2, Depa said that the Mariners’ overall team height should be able to give St. Anthony fits.

“We shoot the ball pretty well,” he said of what his team would have to do to contend with St. Anthony’s height. “We junk it up when we play teams bigger than us.”

After the St. Anthony Tournament, St. Monica will be out of action until Dec. 26 when the team takes part in the Sea Hawk Beach Classic.

Depa said he wants to see how his team from a relatively small private school stands up against larger public schools. That first test will come in the opening game against Morningside, a team that is in the same league (Ocean) as Santa Monica High School.

Samohi girls qualify for semifinals<p>

Despite losing to Serra in the quarterfinals of the Redondo Classic on Tuesday, Santa Monica’s girls basketball team has qualified for the semifinals.

The Vikings will face Bishop Montgomery at Redondo High School at 8 p.m. to decide who will advance to play in the final on Saturday. Samohi qualified because Serra lost to Palos Verdes, a team that Samohi defeated earlier in the tournament.

Inglewood and St. Mary make up the other half of the semifinal bracket.

“I keep hearing that they are much improved,” Samohi Head Coach Marty Verdugo said of Bishop Montgomery. “They play hard-nosed basketball.”

This will be the second year in a row that Samohi has faced Bishop Montgomery in the Redondo Classic. The Vikings won last year’s matchup, 48-34.

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