With its double-digit win in Thursday night’s matchup, the girls basketball team of Santa Monica High School is only two wins away from its first-ever State Finals appearance.
The Vikings are now preparing to take on San Clemente High School at home in the upcoming regional semifinals, which will occur Saturday, March 7 at 6 p.m., in Samohi’s North Gym.
With a win this weekend, Santa Monica would take on Mater Dei Catholic or Palisades in the regional finals on Tuesday, March 10. A win then would secure a trip to Sacramento to play for the state championship in the home of the Kings — the Golden 1 Center.
La Jolla Bishop’s had the lead for much of the first quarter during Thursday night’s game, which was a very high energy affair.
The Knights immediately started the game in a full-court press, which flustered the Vikings early, but like the previous round, Chantal Mowad went to work in the post where she was able to hit fadeaway after fadeaway to keep the game close.
Samohi would soon utilize a press of its own, and missed baskets and turnovers by Bishop’s allowed the Vikings to tie it up at 12 following a basket by Reed to end the quarter.
Two quick baskets by Santa Monica to start the second helped the home team jump out to its first lead of the night, but Bishop’s kept it close and would soon take a 17-16 lead with a little under 5 minutes in the second.
Players sacrificed their bodies as both sides dove after loose balls and took charges in an attempt to leave victorious. Baskets bounced in and out on both sides and the two-minute mark neared in the first half. Samohi would take a 31-26 lead and a Knight’s miss just before the buzzer would keep the score steady heading into the second half.
Moawad would continue to go at the Knights in the interior during the third and a determined Allison Lee kept shooting to prevent Bishop’s from honing in on the future Brown University attendee.
Soon, Samohi was up 7 with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. An impressive effort by Moawad on the boards brought the lead to 9, and things would remain relatively steady until the quarter.
Bishop would again deploy a full-court press to start the fourth, which forced a few turnovers from the Vikings, but the local girls would recover and soon find themselves back up 10.
With 2 minutes left, Bishop’s attempted to intentional foul to catch up, but the Vikings hit their free throws and would extend the lead to as much as 17 at one point in the game. In the end, Santa Monica found itself victorious 57-40.
“Tomorrow’s night’s quarterfinals game will be against a very good team in San Clemente. They are 28-4 and they have a huge community following, so their side of the gym will be packed to the rafters,” Samohi assistant basketball coach Mark Ulrich said Friday. “Hopefully, Santa Monica will come out to support this historic run by their Lady Vikings and give us the home-court advantage we worked all year to secure.”