Kristina Johnson of the Santa Monica High School Girls Varsity Basketball team leaps into the air to make an attempt at a lay-up inside the Carson High School gym located on the campus of Carson HIgh School on Tueday March 8th 2011 as SAMO traveled to Carson for the first round of the Cif State Tourney and won by a score of 59-43 (photo by Morgan Genser)

CARSON — Kalaria Obasi led all scorers with 15 points as Santa Monica High School’s girls’ basketball team defeated Carson, 59-43, in the first round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs Tuesday.

The win sends Samohi onto the next round and a third meeting with CIF-SS D-1AA champion Mater Dei today in Santa Ana. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.

Samohi head coach Marty Verdugo was happy with the way his team bounced back from the loss to Mater Dei last week in the regional semi-finals. The Vikings shared the ball and shut down Carson’s shooters, limiting the City Section champions to 17 second-half points.

“The biggest thing I liked yesterday is we started sharing the basketball,” Verdugo said. “We went from zero assists [against Mater Dei] to 15 assists yesterday. We ran a good offense and kept a good tempo.”

Samohi was up 32-26 at the half and took control of the game early in the third quarter. Moriah Faulk hit a three-pointer and Briana Harris scored a lay-up assisted by Bianka Balthazar to extend the lead to 43-28. Harris finished with 13 points, but Obasi was the star of the night, earning more than her fair share of gasps from the crowd for several “and-one” field goals during which she was fouled, hit the shot and had a chance at an extra point from free throw line.

“I was just feeling it tonight, I was just hyped,” Obasi said after the game. “We really worked together. Against Mater Dei, we weren’t playing as a team.”

To effectively compete against Mater Dei on Thursday, Obasi said, “We just got to play big.”

For his part, Verdugo doesn’t expect many adjustments needed against the Monarchs but said his team can’t let Mater Dei pile up points at the start of the game, as they have done the past two meetings.

“We need to control the offensive tempo and make Mater Dei work,” he said. “We’ve never made them work. If we can keep the score close early, we’ll be OK. We’re playing good second-half basketball now.”

Limiting turnovers will also be a priority for the Vikings.

“If we can eliminate a lot of those easy turnovers, we’ll be fine,” Verdugo said. “That’s all we want to do is be in the game … . We have good match-ups. They’re bigger than us, but I like our chances. It’s going to come down to not letting them get on those runs in the first few minutes. Our goal is one point, one time.”

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