After reaching the Division IV-AA finals of the California Interscholastic Federation last season, the St. Bernard High School boys basketball team hopes to make another successful run in the 2004-05 season.

The Vikings had a 20-12 overall record last season and finished second in the Del Rey League, behind Bishop Montgomery High School.

St. Bernard continued its strong performance in the playoffs, reaching the Division IV-AA finals and ending the year after an 80-68 loss to San Joaquin Memorial in the first round of the Division IV state playoffs.

The Vikings’ achievements last season helped head coach Robert Alaniz — who returns this year for his seventh season — earn the Coach of the Year award for Division IV-AA.

St. Bernard opened the new season ranked tenth by the Daily Breeze, and began with a 55-40 victory at Narbonne High Tuesday, November 30th.

St. Bernard then lost 78-65 to Diamond Ranch Friday, December 3rd, but picked up a 60-57 win over Mira Costa in the first round of the El Segundo Kiwanis Classic Monday, December 6th.

Bob Cody, St. Bernard assistant coach, said this year the team hopes to get another shot at the Division IV-AA championship with the help of five key returning players, including four seniors.

“We should do well, based on the past,” Cody said.

The top returning senior Vikings on the roster include Chris Ceballos, a six-foot-one guard/-forward; John Wilson, a six-foot-one forward; Tim Smith, a six-foot-one forward; and Ron Houston, a six-foot-three forward.

Ceballos and Wilson made the second team all-Del Rey League last season.

Winsor Williams, a five-foot-nine junior point guard who made the first team all-league and all-Division IV-AA last season, should be one of the top returnees to lead the Vikings to a possible division title this year. Williams averaged 14.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season.

In the opening victory over Narbonne, Viking seniors Houston and Wilson stepped up with 12 points and 11 points respectively, while Williams added ten points.

St. Bernard could use some more size with John Lucas, a six-foot-six junior center, as the team’s only tall athlete, but Cody said the Vikings hope to compensate for needed height with their strengths of quickness and intensity.

While the Vikings hope to continue their playoff success from last season, they also expect to challenge for the Del Rey League championship on the way.

“I think we’ll compete well in the league and we hope to get to the playoffs,” he said. “We always compete for the league title.”

The Del Rey League will offer some tests for the Vikings on their path to a possible title. Serra High School and defending league champion Bishop Montgomery High School should give St. Bernard some of the more challenging games on the Viking schedule this season.

The Vikings also hope to take home the trophy from their own tournament, the St. Bernard Holiday Classic, which is scheduled from Friday to Tuesday, December 17th to 21st.

Another trip to the Division IV-AA final should be within grasp for St. Bernard if the team uses its quickness and gets results from its starters, but Cody thinks one more thing needs to be a focus.

“We have to make sure we don’t get beaten on the boards,” he said.