When Jonah Mathews and the Santa Monica High boys basketball team take the floor Saturday morning against Temecula Valley at the Honda Center in Anaheim, they won’t just be vying for a CIF Southern Section championship.
They’ll also be extending a rich hardwood history that includes four section titles over the last 91 years.
The Daily Press takes a look at each of the program’s seven appearances in the section finals:
1925: Santa Monica earned its first section championship with a 19-12 win over Whittier in the Class B finals.
1928: Coached by Floyd Mishler, Santa Monica defeated Long Beach Poly 21-17 to capture the Class B title at Huntington Park High School. That followed the team’s 24-14 win over Covina in the semifinals. The Vikings advanced to the state tournament and reached the title game but fell 26-12 to Stockton. Samohi’s squad featured captain Tony Jurich and Harold Forney.
1946: Santa Monica lost 30-25 to South Pasadena in the championship game at Whittier College. The Vikings forced a 20-20 tie entering the fourth quarter after trailing by three points at halftime, but they were done in after two late baskets by South Pasadena forward Wayne Tucker and two free throws by teammate George Lindsley. Samohi center Gene Snyder scored a team-high nine points.
1950: Santa Monica fell 43-40 to El Monte in the championship game at Whittier College. The Vikings trailed by one with 30 seconds left following a bucket by Hank D’Antonio, but El Monte’s Bob Anthony knocked down two free throws to quash their upset bid. Samohi had edged Loyola 53-51 in the semifinals “in a chilling overtime struggle that left the capacity assemblage limp,” according to an archived Los Angeles Times article. The Vikings gave up two quick baskets to start the extra 3-minute period, but the squad pulled even with four straight free throws and snatched the win on a driving shot by Joe Germann.
1987: Coached by Cliff Hunter, Santa Monica defeated Westlake 62-60 to win the 4-A championship at Los Angeles Sports Arena. Senior forward Keith Neal scored 20 points and guard Danny Price added 18 points for the Vikings, who pulled off the victory despite missing 12 free throws. Samohi then advanced to the semifinals of the Southern Regionals, falling 83-65 after putting a scare into a dominant Los Angeles-Fairfax team that featured future NBA players Chris Mills and Sean Higgins.
2010: Santa Monica lost 58-39 to Lawndale-Leuzinger in the Division 1A title game at the Honda Center. Coached by James Hecht, the Vikings were unable to recover from an early 22-5 deficit. James Montgomery scored 10 points, while Danilo Toskovic and Corey Walker each added seven. Samohi advanced to the state tournament and defeated Clovis East in the opening round before falling 73-64 in the second round to Los Angeles-Westchester, the eventual state champion.
2013: Santa Monica won its first section championship under Hecht by defeating Lake Forest-El Toro 66-56 in the Division 1A title game at the Anaheim Convention Center. Jordan Mathews was named the division’s player of the year, and Hecht was named coach of the year. The Vikings went on to the state tournament and reached the Division I championship game, falling 73-57 to Elk Grove-Pleasant Grove at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.