May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Newport Harbor wins an overtime thriller 58-55 over CdM in Surf League opener

Robbie Spooner of Newport Harbor and fans celebrate the overtime victory. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

The Surf League opener between Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor lived up to its lively local rivalry hype. It has the intensity of a CIF playoff game, a boisterous capacity crowd and the contest wasn’t decided until overtime.

Sailors’ junior guard Levi Darrow converted four free throws in the final 20 seconds of OT to propel Newport Harbor to a 58-55 victory over the Sea Kings Friday night at CdM.

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“It’s crazy, I wasn’t nervous, it was just like shooting in my backyard,” said Darrow, who scored six of the Sailors eight points in OT and finished the game with 12 points. “This game is really going to give us confidence going forward.”

CdM took a 54-53 lead in the extra period after Jack Stone drilled a 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining. Moments later, Stone made one of two free throws to up the Sea Kings lead to 55-53 with 2:04 to play.

But that would be the final points of the evening for CdM. To add insult to injury, Stone, the Sea Kings (14-7, 0-1) leading scorer with 33 points, fouled out of the game after committing two fouls in less than 30 seconds. He drew his fifth foul as he was called for pushing off while driving to the basket with 1:06 remaining.

Newport Harbor took advantage of Stone’s departure. Darrow went to the line and made two free throws with 20 second left to give the Sailors a 56-55 edge. Jack McKenna misfired on a 3-point attempt with 6 seconds left and the Sea Kings were forced to foul Darrow, who promptly went to the line and canned both free throws to seal the win.

“We kept our composure and competed and we didn’t panic,” said Newport Harbor forward Robbie Spooner, who scored nine points.

Sailors coach Robert Torribio was thrilled with the excitement of the local rivalry and Darrow’s clutch play.

“Every game between these schools should be like this,” said Torribio. “Levi is a starter from last year and he played on a team that set a Newport Harbor record for wins. He loves to play basketball and we’ve played a lot of overtime games this year.”

The Sailors are 3-2 in overtime games this season.

Nicholas Silva scored 13 points and 6-7 center Luke Bashore was outstanding defensively for Newport Harbor as he blocked eight shots. The Sailors improved to 19-4 and 1-0. 

“We were all exhausted but we continued to play hard,” said Bashore, who also scored seven points. “It’s really exciting.  We were a little nervous at first, with this being our first league game, but we kept battling.”

Ryan Miller’s 3-point play to open the third quarter increased the Sailors lead to 33-22 and it seemed as Newport Harbor may break the game open.

But the Sea Kings fought back.

Stone hit a 3-pointer and made two free throws down the stretch to cut the lead to 43-36 after three quarters.

CdM continued to hang around in the fourth quarter by the surging efforts of Efe Gucoglu, Stone and McKenna.

Gucoglu, who scored 10 points in the game, made two free throws to tie he game at 51-51 with 46 seconds left in regulation. The Sea Kings got the ball back but Stone’s jumper was off the mark with less than 10 seconds to play. Darrow grabbed the rebound and his half-court heave hit off the rim as the regulation ended in a tie.

“I’m not disappointed in the effort, I’m disappointed in the result,” said CdM coach Ryan Schachter. “We haven’t been playing well since San Clemente; we haven’t shot well and we’ve had some injuries, but I’m hoping tonight was a break out game for us. The guys played with energy and were excited and it was a great high school basketball game with a great crowd.”

Bashore’s 3-pointer at the end of the opening quarter gave Newport Harbor a 16-10 lead after one quarter. The Sailors went on a 12-2 run over the final 4 minutes of the second quarter sparked by Luke Barnes, Darrow and Tyler Li to take a 30-22 lead at the break. 

Following Cade Overfelt’s bucket in the opening seconds of the game, the Sea Kings fans tossed hundreds of Teddy Bears onto the floor in recognition of a fundraising campaign CdM is sponsoring for the benefit of a local Newport Beach Children’s charity.

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Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone