Normans beat arch-rival Santa Monica; take first place in Ocean League


Sam Bernstein managing editor
The boys varsity basketball team won their rivalry game against the Santa Monica High School Vikings tonight by a score of 71-64. The game was played at home in the Swim Gym.
The Normans started off hot, connecting on their first two shots of the game, putting them up 5-0 early. Senior guard Marcel Stevens stole the ball twice and put up a quick four points in the first few minutes of the game, helping put the team up 12-7 with five minutes to go in the first. Junior guard Ben Ramirez used his signature jelly move to put the Normans up 14-7, and the Normans closed out the quarter going punch for punch with the Vikings. The quarter ended excitedly, with Ramirez hitting a three pointer at the buzzer, ending the quarter up 21-14. Ramirez, who was fouled on the play, ended the quarter with seven points.
The second quarter started off slowly for both squads, going scoreless for the first 1:30 of the period. Senior forward Chandler Sooferan scored the first points of the half for both teams, hitting a contested layup from the post. The Normans then proceeded to go on a quick 5-0 run, putting them up 28-14. Beverly benefitted from poor shooting from the Vikings, as the Vikings failed to record a point for the first 5:30 of the second quarter. After a bit of drama regarding the crowd’s usage of flashlights during free throws to distract the shot taker, the Vikings were issued a technical foul for their refusal to turn their flashlights off. More drama ensued when SAMO fans claimed that Beverly scorekeepers shorted the Vikings of a point, however the score ultimately remained unchanged. Both teams went punch for punch again to close out the half, with the Vikings closing out the half scoring 12, partially matched by Beverly’s 10. The half ended with Beverly up 12, by a score of 38-26.
The second half began after cheer did a quick routine. The Vikings came out of the locker room hot to begin the half, going on a 9-2 run to kick off the third quarter. After the Normans countered with a 6-2 run of their own, Stevens committed a loose ball foul, putting him in foul trouble with three fouls. Sophomore forward Blake Lander was subbed in to replace Stevens. The team didn’t miss a beat, though, closing out the quarter up 14, by a score of 50-39.
The fourth quarter started off rough for the Normans, allowing SAMO to get within single digits within the first three minutes. Vikings junior forward Quincy McGriff, who has offers from Kansas State and Montana, carried the team, scoring six of the team’s eleven points to start the quarter. After Stevens took a hard foul on a jump shot, he made both free throws, putting the Normans up by six with 3:30 to go in the game. A loose ball foul called against SAMO on junior guard Nick Andrews triggered a double bonus for the Normans, who utilized it by sinking both free throws. After Vikings sophomore guard T.J. Wainwright sunk a contested three, Stevens took a deep three that bounced off the ring three times before eventually falling. On the next possession, Stevens crossed his defender up, sending him to the ground, before hitting another three released with under a second left on the shot clock, putting the team up nine with just under a minute before the final buzzer. Vikings fans began to slowly move towards the exits, as that shot put the final nail in the coffin for this year’s edition of the famed rivalry game. 
The Normans leading scorer was Ramirez, who had 17 points in the game. As a result of the loss, the Vikings fell to 14-5 and take second place in the Ocean League. After the win, the Normans record improved to 12-4 after this game and take sole possession of first place in the Ocean League. The Normans’ next game is a road rivalry game against Culver City. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.