SAMOHI — It wasn’t easy or a thing of beauty, but the Vikings completed the first round of league games undefeated with a 49-39 win over Hawthorne Wednesday on campus.
Santa Monica High School’s boys’ basketball team completed the first half of the Ocean League schedule 5-0 as the Vikings start the second leg on Friday at second place Inglewood.
Even with the win in hand, Head Coach James Hecht wasn’t too happy with how the Vikings earned it against a Hawthorne team now 0-5 in league.
“Sloppy is a good adjective to use to explain tonight,” he said. “It’s obvious that we have a lot of things to work on.”
The win differential may have been 10 points, but the game was more of a struggle than the final score indicates.
Samohi initially ran out to a 17-6 lead early in the second quarter, but Hawthorne was undeterred. Led by the play of speedy point guard Ricky Bryant, the Cougars rattled off 13 straight points to take a 19-17 lead, forcing Hecht to take a time-out to regroup.
“They were playing like they had nothing to lose,” said Samohi junior Jordan Mathews, who finished the night with a game high 18 points. “They were killing us with that zone in the first half.”
Trey Thompson was the Vikings’ second leading scorer with 10 points.
After ending the half knotted at 21-21, Hawthorne again showed fight in building a small lead minutes into the third quarter. Trailing 26-21, Samohi clawed back, finishing the third quarter with a 36-30 lead that they would protect down the stretch to secure the win on their home court.
Before the game, Mathews said that lower-tier teams like Hawthorne are prone to sneak up on opponents. That statement nearly came to pass if not for a second half that saw Samohi outscore Hawthorne, 28-18.
The sixth man
The game was played just days removed from an eventful Friday night last week. After Samohi rallied and beat Morningside in the final seconds, a fight between fans from both teams broke out as both left the gym.
As a safety measure, there was a noticeable police presence to help keep the peace. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has hired the Santa Monica Police Department to provide security at Samohi’s remaining home games and some away games, said SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis.
“We don’t know why it happened,” Hecht said. “It’s hard to point a finger.”
The game on Wednesday took place without incident.
With the drama of the past few games behind them, the Vikings travel to Inglewood for a rematch of a 76-68 win earlier this season.
With Inglewood sitting at 4-1, the game has league title overtones that Hecht isn’t looking past.
“They don’t crown first place now,” he said. “We have to get ready for a good Inglewood team.”
Inglewood finished last season as league champs with Samohi coming in third.
After facing both Inglewood and Samohi once this season, Hawthorne head coach Ben Wardrop came away with a definite feeling who’s primed to pull away.
“[Samohi] is the best coached team in the league,” he said. “Santa Monica has to be the favorite.”
Friday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m.