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Vikings’ basketball season ends with loss in regionals

After a heartbreaking loss in the San Diego CIF championships last weekend, the La Jolla High School boys’ basketball team’s season came to a formal close Tuesday evening.

The Vikings lost 62-47 to Huntington Beach Ocean View in the first round of the Division III CIF regional tournament. Ocean View scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points, but LJHS battled back to take a second quarter lead. The No. 3 ranked Seahawks, led by Avery Johnson’s 30 points, would open up a seven point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, ultimately too much for the Vikings to counter.

“We made arguably one of most talented teams in Division III in the state work really hard to beat us,” said Vikings head coach Kamal Assaf. “It’s a testament to the kids’ tenacity, maturity and real desire to compete.”

Senior Jack Latta led LJHS with 23 points, but no other Viking scored more than six. The Vikings were seconds away from winning an unprecedented third straight San Diego County Division III championship March 6, losing to Mount Miguel 47-46 on a free throw before the buzzer.

The loss marked the end of the high school basketball careers for Latta and five other seniors. Assaf said despite graduations, the future for this team remains bright.

“We have a terrific junior class,” he said. “They are really talented and athletic and ready to step in the wings here so we’re excited about them.”