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(photo by Paul Alvarez Jr.)

SAMOHI — Spencer Cramer picked a good night to have his best game of the season.

The center’s 17 points and presence in the paint lifted Santa Monica High School’s boys’ basketball team to overcome a big early Culver City lead to improve to 6-1 in the Ocean League following a 69-62 victory at home on Wednesday.

“They were letting me get the ball inside,” Cramer said. “They weren’t putting a body on me.”

Trailing rival Culver City by 17 in the second quarter, Samohi senior Trey Thompson sunk a 3-pointer to begin a rally that would see the Vikings score 10 straight points to end the first half.

Entering the intermission down 31-24 gave Samohi a bit of confidence following a first half that Head Coach James Hecht said his players didn’t approach with enough aggression.

The Vikings continued to chip away at Culver City’s lead to open the second half. Junior Jordan Mathews opened the scoring for Samohi with a pair of consecutive buckets to set the pace for the quarter. Mathews finished the night with 15 points.

By the 2 minute mark of the period, the Vikings took the lead for the first time since the game’s opening minutes. They would go on to end the quarter up by 7, a lead they would hold in securing a crucial win to remain in a first place tie with Inglewood, which beat Hawthorne on Wednesday to stay in contention for the league crown.

“Cramer gave us huge production,” Hecht said. “It was his best production all year.”

Culver City was paced by Aamahd Walker’s 27 points. Hecht called the senior “a legit” scoring threat.

The Vikings play third place Beverly Hills at home today. It’s the last home game of the season. The team’s seniors will be honored before tip-off.

With three games remaining in the season, the worst the Vikings can finish is 6-4, which would still leave them in position to secure one of the three playoff bids the league receives each season.

Samohi enters today’s game having beat Beverly Hills, 79-71, on the road last month.

“Beverly Hills will be gunning for us,” Hecht said. “But we want to end the season by going to the playoffs.”

The Vikings are currently No. 7 in the latest CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA poll.

The ambitious schedule that Hecht set for his team should pay dividends as the Vikings try to finish strong. Samohi has played six teams in the current Los Angeles Times top 25 poll, a fact that Hecht is proud to hang his team’s hat on. The Vikings’ lone win in that murderers’ row was a win over Windward, which sits at No. 15 on the poll. Samohi currently sits at No. 23 in the Times poll.

Outside of a blowout at the hands of Long Beach Poly early in the season, Hecht is pleased his team battled in each of those games.

“I’d put us up against anybody,” he said.

daniela@www.smdp.com

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