Maybe two weeks without a game was exactly what the Santa Monica High boys basketball team needed.

After a prolonged stretch with no scheduled competition, the Vikings engineered four wins in five days to capture the championship of their division at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic tournament at Rancho Mirage High School near Palm Springs.

Samohi sealed its title with a 53-43 victory over Mercer Island (Wash.) on Wednesday, when USC-bound senior guard Jonah Mathews was named most valuable player of the bracket and two of his teammates, senior forward Mikhail Brown and junior forward Daniel Schreier, earned all-tournament recognition.

Entering the tournament, which featured several teams from outside California, the Vikings had only played once since falling by two points to Pasadena-La Salle at the El Segundo tournament.

But they appeared to be in fine form at the MaxPreps event, holding their four opponents to an average of just 49.5 points per game as they closed out the calendar year.

Samohi started out by clobbering Las Vegas-Palo Verde 75-45 on Dec. 26 at Xavier College Preparatory High School in Palm Desert. Coach James Hecht’s squad outscored Palo Verde by 13 in the first quarter and by nine in the third to pull away for an easy victory.

The win propelled the Vikings into a matchup against Portland-Franklin, whose roster features 6-foot-10 Joseph Smoyer. And Mathews was up for the challenge, pouring in 30 points to lead Samohi in a 73-59 triumph Dec. 28.

A day later, the Vikings entered the tournament semifinals against Rancho Cucamonga-Etiwanda and pulled off a 57-51 victory. Trailing by eight at the end of the first quarter, Samohi drew even at 40-40 entering the final period and showed poise down the stretch. Mathews hit a crucial 3-pointer early in the fourth as part of a 23-point performance that included five buckets from beyond the arc.

All that stood between the Vikings and a tournament championship was Mercer Island, which topped Bountiful (Utah), Riverside-North and Las Vegas-Desert Pines to reach the finals.

In the Dec. 30 title game, Samohi trailed by three at the end of the first quarter. But the team tightened its defense, giving up just three points in the second and eight points in the third as it slowly regained control. Mathews had 21 points in the win.

The Vikings posed for photos with a trophy after their accomplishment, the latest in a season that already includes the St. Monica tournament championship they earned in early December.

Now Samohi turns its attention to the final portion of its nonconference slate, which includes its Jan. 6 home opener against Palisades at 7:30 p.m. and a game against Long Beach-Millikan at 1 p.m. Jan. 9.

The Vikings will begin Ocean League play Jan. 13 on the road against Hawthorne. As of Dec. 31, Samohi and Culver City were the only teams in the conference with records above .500.

jeff@www.smdp.com