Culver City-The road back to glory is usually a hard one to
navigate. The Santa Monica boys’ basketball team is learning that lesson. A year
removed from being crowned as kings of CIF Southern Section Division 1, Samohi
has found out that it is much more difficult to be the hunted as oppose to being
the ones doing the hunting.
That comes with the territory when you’re the reigning CIF
champs and become one of two of the best teams in the state of California. But
the Vikings are finding their way this season. After playing a tough preseason
schedule, Samohi looks like it has benefited from that early season grind with
two straight Ocean League wins over Inglewood and Culver City.
After getting past Inglewood in a home game, Samohi went
into a tough environment at Culver City and managed to prevail with the win. Samohi swept Culver City on its way to the
Ocean League title last year. Samohi got off to a good start this season against
their league rival by defeating the Centaurs for a 62-53 road win.
By defeating Culver City, Samohi recorded its third straight
win following four consecutive losses. Samohi locked in defensively in the
fourth quarter to prevail with its 10th win of the season. For the
first three quarters, the Vikings and the Centaurs were locked in a pretty
close game with Culver City holding a 40-33 advantage heading into the final
Then the sky fell out for the Centaurs. Samohi broke open a
close game by outscoring the Centaurs 29-13 in the fourth quarter to walk away
with the win.
Last season, Samohi posted easy double-digit wins against
Culver City. Obviously, this is not last
year. This game would prove to be much tougher. However, in the end, the
Vikings finally got their act together to earn their second straight Ocean
Last season, Samohi claimed the CIF title and made it all
the way to the state championship game where they fell to Pleasant Grove. Neither team-Samohi nor Pleasant Grove-are
what they were last year. Pleasant Grove is having its share of struggles this
season as the Vikings are, though Samohi did defeat the Eagles in December at
the Holiday Hardwood Invitational.
This year’s team is treading to stay above .500 and has
played with inconsistency so far. The Vikings may have turned the corner in
their play, beginning when they took apart and defeated Inglewood in their
first league game this year. This challenge would come against a Culver City
team playing with high intensity and playing in its own gym.
Coming into this game, both teams were pretty much dead-even
in the scoring column, averaging just above 61 points per game. League play always seems to bring the best out
of teams and individuals. Samohi and Culver City went at each other as the
scoring in the first three quarters would indicate. The Centaurs held the edge
after first quarter, outscoring the Vikings 15-14.
The second period was just as intense as both teams seem to
get a bit chippy, particularly near the end of the period when free throw
shooting became a big part of the quarter. Leading the way for the Vikings were
Travis Fujita, Jonah Mathews and Chris Johnson.
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