With the Southern Section playoffs in clear sight, St. Bernard High School boys basketball coach Bob Alaniz said his team is peaking at the right time.

Alaniz referred to the Vikings’ dominating 67-41 Del Rey League victory over visiting Bishop Amat High School Friday, February 1st, as evidence.

After narrowly losing to Bishop Montgomery High School for the second time this season, the Vikings (13-12, 4-3) secured a third-place finish in the competitive Del Rey League with the victory over the Bishop Amat Lancers (9-15, 1-5). The Vikings were scheduled to close out the regular season Wednesday, February 6th, against the league’s top team, Serra High of Gardena.

St. Bernard had lost three of its last five games by single-digit margins, but Alaniz, who called the Del Rey League one of the most competitive in the South Bay, believes the Vikings are right where they need to be as they head toward the playoffs.

“We’re right there,” the coach said.

In the game against Bishop Amat, the Vikings went ahead early by forcing Lancer turnovers with aggressive defense. But the Lancers stayed close behind with perimeter shooting, including two three-pointers by sophomore Dion Hudson, who led Bishop Amat with 13 points in the game.

The Lancers grabbed their first lead with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter and stretched it to 16-11 with another three-pointer by Abel Rodriguez in the final seconds.

Bishop Amat maintained its advantage early on in the second quarter, but the Vikings took over once they got warmed up.

“We definitely came out flat but in the second quarter we got it going,” said Alaniz, referring to his team’s turnaround with strong defense. “Once we got everything going, that was it.”

The Viking turnaround was ignited by the hot shooting of senior Ryan Simpson, who scored 11 of his 17 points, including three three-pointers in the second quarter to give the Vikings back the lead. As Bishop Amat struggled with shooting late in the quarter, St. Bernard bolted ahead with a 14-0 run to take a 31-22 lead into halftime.

The Vikings started the second half with two steals to pick up where they left off and continued to cruise from there. The St. Bernard lead quickly turned into double digits, where it would remain for the rest of the game.

Senior Ken Jones, who finished with 12 points in the game, stretched the Viking lead to 39-24 with a three-pointer, and two free-throws by senior Sherman Ratliff in the final seconds of the third quarter made it a 20-point game.

Bishop Amat was unable to fight back as the Vikings dominated the rebounds throughout the contest and kept extending their lead through the final quarter.

Senior Devin Price, who scored a game-high 19 points, gave the Vikings their biggest lead at 61-32 with a three-pointer in the final minutes to highlight the rout of the Lancers.

Junior Phil Moore, who finished with four points, grabbed 12 rebounds for St. Bernard and junior Fred White, who scored five points, added ten rebounds.

Having made their way through a difficult schedule and a challenging league, the Vikings feel good about their chances to make a run in the post season, Alaniz said.

“We’re very confident,” the St. Bernard coach said about the playoffs.

“We play a real tough schedule and we’re in one of the best leagues, so every year that gets us ready for the playoffs.”

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