With a trip to Sacramento at stake, the player who has risen up in big games all season, Jordan Mathews, came through again for Santa Monica High, calmly sinking a three-pointer with two seconds left, giving the Vikings a 53-50 victory over Los Angeles Loyola in the CIF Southern California Regional Division I boys' basketball final Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
"Big-time players make big-time shots, and we wanted the ball in Jordan's hands," Santa Monica Coach James Hecht said.
Loyola (25-6) had beaten Santa Monica (29-6) twice this season and made a courageous comeback after its standout guard, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, twisted his right foot and went down with 6 minutes 36 seconds left and the Cubs down by eight points.
Thomas Welsh, Loyola's 7-foot center who was scoreless in the first half after missing all six of his shots, tied the score, 50-50, with 1:54 remaining with his 17th point of the second half. Loyola twice had opportunities to take the lead. Max Hazzard missed a shot, and Loyola had the ball with 38 seconds left. Then Mtume Armour took a quick shot, missed and Santa Monica suddenly had the ball with 29.7 seconds left and set up a final play for Mathews, the California-bound senior.
"I knew we were going to hit them with a dagger," said Mathews, who finished with 19 points. "I felt good about hitting it."
Troy Maloney made five three-pointers and finished with 17 points for Santa Monica.
There's debate about what was more impressive, the bright red bow tie worn by Redondo Coach Reggie Morris Jr. or the execution of a game plan that helped the Sea Hawks defeat Riverside North, 60-48.
Redondo (27-8) used a 2-3 zone defense and full-court press that produced 23 turnovers and helped cause North to shoot 26.8% from the field. Redondo made six of 13 shots from three-point range to earn a trip to Sacramento and play Pleasant Hill College Park in Saturday's 4 p.m. state Division II final.
Leading the way were senior Derek Biale, who scored 15 points, senior Chris Henderson, who has 12 points, and junior Ian Fox, who scored 10. Freshman Leland Green had eight points in the first half when Redondo led, 31-21.
Brynton Lemar scored 24 points on seven-for-13 shooting to help San Diego St. Augustine rally from an 11-point deficit to defeat West Hills Chaminade, 61-57, in the final.
Jahmel Taylor had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead West Hollywood Pacific Hills to a 73-69 win over Torrance Bishop Montgomery in the Division IV final at Colony.
It brought to a close a remarkable three-game stretch in which assistant coach Herman Nash, filling in for Coach Ivan Barahona, who is coaching El Salvador's national team, guided the Bruins to victories. Namon Wright added 20 points. Lamond Murray Jr. had 25 points for Bishop Montgomery.