St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey will get a double dose of state championship action after both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams took home Southern California Regional titles this season.
The Viking boys defeated Sierra Canyon High School of Chatsworth 61-59 to capture the Southern California Regional Division V Championship at Colony High School in Ontario Saturday, March 19.
On the same day, the St. Bernard High girls basketball team won 60-45 over Santa Clara High to earn the Southern California Regional Division V title, also at Colony High School.
The two Viking teams will both be seeking the Division V State Championship Friday, March 25 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. The boys will face St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda at 1:30 p.m., while the girls will face Pinewood High of Los Altos Hills at 3:30 p.m.
With the prospect of having two state champion basketball teams in the same season, the high school community has recently been in high spirits, said athletic director Greg Dixon.
“Just making it to that point (as regional champions) is a great accomplishment for the staff and the kids,” Dixon said. “The community has really gotten behind both programs and we’re really excited about the possibility of winning the state titles.”
Dixon said the teams’ recent achievements have brought them similar success of the school’s basketball programs in the past.
In the boys’ regional title game, Thurman Thomas scored a basket in the final second to give the 10th-seeded Vikings (26-8) the victory over top-seeded Sierra Canyon. Thomas finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
St. Bernard went into halftime trailing 36-29 but scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, holding Sierra Canyon to 11 points, to avoid overtime and take the victory. Daniel Cordoba also scored 13 points, while Brandon Randolph and Emani Gant each added nine points.
This season the Viking boys have accomplished one of the most impressive turnarounds in the South Bay after ending last season with a 4-23 overall record and 0-8 record in the Camino Real League. Dixon believes a key factor in the team’s transformation this year has been the development and leadership of returning players.
“Their work ethic has really paid off and they’ve helped the younger guys become better players,” he said. “They’ve really stepped up and led the charge.”
In the girls regional championship, the fourth-seeded Vikings (24-14) held a 29-21 lead at halftime and scored 21 points in the final quarter to defeat second-seeded Santa Clara. Kacy Swain led St. Bernard in the victory with 15 points and six rebounds. Lajahna Drummer finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Destini French contributed 10 points.