SAMOHI — The boys from Santa Monica were bobbing their heads, stomping their feet and rejoicing after routing Dana Hills, 60-41, Tuesday to advance to the championship game.
Yet, despite the euphoria of moving on to the title game of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1A boys’ basketball playoffs, there was one Viking who was already thinking about what’s to come in the next and final round against El Toro on Saturday.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight and we’ll be on cloud nine tomorrow, but around noon we’re going to have to forget all that and get ready,” said Jordan Mathews, who led the Vikings with 29 points. “Nobody remembers you if you win the semifinals.”
The No. 2 seeded Vikings sprinted out to a 12-0 lead midway through the first quarter leaving Dana Hills at a loss on how to deal with an up-tempo Samohi team that was swarming the ball and sinking shots.
Dana Hills made a game of it, reducing Samohi’s advantage to 16-10 after the first period.
But, the second quarter was unkind to Dana Hills as they limped into half-time down, 40-15. Mathews dominated the first half with 19 points putting Dana Hills on their heels.
Unfortunately for Dana Hills, the second half was much of the same. They watched as Samohi went to a guard-heavy lineup that played keep away until the buzzer sounded.
Despite falling in the semifinals, Dana Hills head coach Tom Desiano was proud of what his No. 6 seeded team was able to do in the postseason.
“It was a good run,” Desiano said. “We made it a lot further than most people expected from us. I can live with that.”
As for Samohi, Desiano said that they were as talented as advertised. He praised Cal-bound Mathews for his performance that included an array of offensive moves.
“That’s a good team right there,” Desiano said. “We knew that going in, but they proved it.”
Despite Mathews’ command performance, Desiano said that center Chris Smith and point guard Trevis Jackson illustrated that Samohi is more than a one-man show.
Smith would finish the night with 8 points. Troy Maloney chipped 6 of his own.
Dana Hills was led by junior forward Jack Clendene’s 13 points.
“It was win or go home time, and I don’t think we were ready to go home yet,” Samohi head coach James Hecht said. “The focus, the intensity has been there. We had a great couple of days of practice. I just couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that every day come to work to represent their high school and their community to the best of their ability.”
Saturday’s game tips off at 6 p.m. at the Anaheim Arena.