The year after Jonah Mathews' brother, Jordan, led Santa Monica to a Southern Section 1A championship in 2013, Mathews remembers what Coach James Hecht told him during his sophomore year.
"How do you want to be remembered?"
Now a senior, Mathews produced a moment to remember, overcoming a slow start and finishing with 33 points to help the Vikings defeat Temecula Valley, 66-60, on Saturday morning at Honda Center in the 1A championship game.
"Heck of a player," Hecht said of the USC-bound senior.
Mathews started the game with one-for-10 shooting.
"I think my teammates helped me through the game," he said. "In the first half, I couldn't hit a shot."
He put together a string of eight consecutive points in the first half, but Santa Monica (29-2) fell behind at halftime, 35-24, and was down by 13 points at the outset of the third quarter. The Vikings then picked up their defensive pressure, started to rebound and regained their confidence to tie the game, 44-44, through three quarters and take the lead for good with 1:31 left on a three-pointer by Mathews.
Helping out Mathews were Rod Henley, who had nine points, and Rip Economou, who contributed a key basket late. Isaiah Johnson had nine rebounds.
It was a special victory for Hecht, his second section title. Before the season, two of his team's top players left. Spencer Freedman transferred to Santa Ana Mater Dei, and center Jayce Johnson left to enroll early in college.
"It was like they were punched in the stomach," Hecht said of his team's reaction. "They didn't blink."
Now Hecht says, "I love the 2013 team, and I love this one. The love, the care they have for each other in my 22 years at Santa Monica is second to none."
DeWayne Holmes finished with 15 points for Temecula Valley (28-5), and Riley Schaefer and Scott Hollingsworth added 12 points apiece.
And Mathews, who received a pep talk from his brother via a phone call before the game, said, "I'm not living in his shadow anymore. It feels great to have two Mathews with rings."