CULVER CITY – With a series of clutch shots and strong defense, Santa Monica boys basketball team had just enough physicality and scoring to hold off Culver City 59-58 on Wednesday night.
“It was a close game, we hit clutch shots and we just got away with a victory,” said Samohi’s Jeremiah Shevlin, who, as part of a trio, with Jordan Matthews and Troy Maloney, combined for 36 points for the Vikings (9-14; 3-4). Each player had 12 points each.
Vikings’ Holden Foshag’s mid-range jumper late in the fourth helped Samohi withstand a Culver City rally. Kailen Horton had 19 points for the Centaurs, who also got 13 points from Darren Johnson.
After a rough start, during which Matthews was sent to the floor on several possessions as his drives were stuffed by Culver City’s inside players, the Vikings managed to race out to a 20-12 lead behind offensive rebounds that led to second chances and fluid passing resulting in made shots. At halftime, Samohi was up 32-21. The Vikings were 10 points ahead in the fourth when Culver City made its run, but Shevlin blocked a lay-up and, after Centaurs answered, he came back with a strong drive and was sent to the free throw line. For Culver City, Horton hit several mid-range jumpers in the fourth quarter that brought the game within three with under four minutes left. That would be as close as they’d get. Holden hit a big three pointer to put the Vikings up 56-52 and Culver City couldn’t convert on the final possession.
The Vikings realize they have their work cut out for them going into the remaining games. In fifth place before the Culver City game, they can move into third place in Ocean League if they beat Morningside and possibly into second if Culver City (18-5; 5-2) stumbles against Inglewood and Hawthorne.
“We realized that if we don’t make it now, it’s like, if we want to make playoffs, we’ve got to win the rest of our games,” Shevlin said. “I’ve really been stepping up. The seniors have been showing leadership.”
Against CIF-SS Div. 3 second-ranked team Harvard-Westlake in the State Preview Classic at Fairfax High School, Samohi managed to keep it close at the half, down only six points. However, the Vikings were then simply overpowered in the third quarter as Harvard-Westlake extended the lead to double digits and won 80-60.
Senior Logan Foster led the Vikings with 15 points while Foshag posted 14 points and Shevlin had 13. Zena Edosomwan had 30 points for Harvard-Westlake and electrified the crowd with a smooth alley-oop dunk in the third quarter.
“After the half, we lost the battle of the boards. That was big … it was tough for us,” Foster said. “We didn’t get second chance rebounds.”
The Vikings edged out Inglewood 61-59 to capture their second Ocean League win on Jan. 28. Foshag exploded for 25 points, Foster had 11, and sophomore Matthews, who was battling the flu, tallied 9 points.