Athleticism, defensive effort and rebounding prowess were staples of Dayne Chalmers’ game during his sophomore campaign at Newport Harbor High.
As a junior this boys’ basketball season, the versatile forward has added a newfound presence as a scoring threat to his arsenal.
This was on full display at last week’s Century Elks Holiday Classic in Santa Ana, as the Sailors bounced back from a deflating overtime loss to Westminster in the semifinals to claim third place at the tournament behind a well-rounded performance from Chalmers.
The two-sport star scored a game-high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds in the third-place game against Pacifica. The confidence was contagious, and Newport Harbor cruised to a 61-45 victory.
“He kind of reflects our entire team,” said Newport Harbor coach Bob Torribio, whose team went into Friday with a 12-4 overall record. “Dayne's a leader on the floor with his actions more than his words, and he just came to play all four games. He guarded the other team's best player. It doesn't matter what we are doing. He just wants to compete, it could be a drill in practice, it could be the game. He's a competitive young man, and his desire to compete every game really influences us all.”
The Century Elks Holiday Classic marked the Sailors’ third trip to a tournament semifinal this season. To go along with this trio of semifinal runs was the program’s first Battle of the Bay win over rival Corona del Mar in 12 years.
With a pair of three-pointers in the final 40 seconds of double-overtime, including the game-winner with six seconds left on the clock, Chalmers turned a four-point deficit into a 68-67 Newport Harbor victory against CdM on Dec. 21, 2017.
“On the last shot of the game, our point guard Sam [Barela] drove in and got double-teamed, so he kicked it out,” Chalmers said. “We reversed the ball all the way over and then Brad Siegel gave me the extra pass. I was open in the corner and I felt a defender closing out, so I just took the shot, and it went in. It's something we work on every day in practice.”
While Chalmers’ emergence as a true all-around threat has the Sailors in position as a Sunset League contender, it is his talents on the volleyball court that will punch his ticket to the next level.
The highly sought-after volleyball prospect has been recruited nationally, but the 6-foot-4 Chalmers said he currently has three California teams as his top choices: Stanford, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Of these three, no school has arisen as a favorite just yet.
“I’m keeping an open mind,” Chalmers said of the recruiting process.
Chalmers’ arrival as one of California’s elite volleyball players was met with the return of a local volleyball legend, as his uncle, Rocky Ciarelli, came out of retirement to coach his nephew. Ciarelli, who initially retired in 2008, was a three-time CIF Southern Section champion during a prolific 24-year tenure at Huntington Beach.
The Sailors enjoyed a successful 2017 run in boys’ volleyball, reaching the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 2008 and the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Regional Division I playoffs for the first time. With Chalmers and the rest of their core set to return, even bigger things could be in store for 2018.
He's one of the hardest-working guys in the weight room, one of the hardest-working guys in practice, and not only that, he's talented.
Newport Harbor coach Bob Torribio
Chalmers had also been an impact player on the Newport Harbor football team before stepping away prior to the 2017 season. The two-way star’s absence was undoubtedly felt, as the Sailors went 2-8 and watched their scoring offense plummeted by 17.1 points per game.
The former wide receiver and defensive back cites his desire to focus on volleyball and basketball as the reason why he decided to drop football.
“It was just a lot to do,” said Chalmers, who is also talented enough to play baseball at Newport Harbor, where his father, Evan, is the baseball coach, but baseball and volleyball are played in the spring, only allowing him to play volleyball. “I was constantly spending my time working on getting better at all three, and I just needed a break. It was too much all at once.”
For Torribio, Chalmers reminds him of Kyle Caldwell — a fellow dual-sport star and one of the most decorated players in the basketball program’s history.
The four-year UCLA volleyball standout starred for the Sailors in basketball, setting a handful of school records, including the single-season marks for points and rebounds. Caldwell’s 47 points against Marina in 2008 also remains a program-best 10 years later.
There are a handful of similarities between the pair, with the obvious being their athleticism and premier volleyball talents. According to Torribio, though, the most striking resemblance might be their tremendous work ethic — something he’s watched impact an entire team firsthand.
“It makes coaching a lot easier,” Torribio said. “He's one of the hardest-working guys in the weight room, one of the hardest-working guys in practice, and not only that, he's talented. So to have your most talented players be your hardest workers, is a real benefit for the coach.”
Born: Jan. 16, 2001
Hometown: Costa Mesa
Height: 6 feet 4
Weight: 175 pounds
Coach: Bob Torribio
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: “Step Brothers”
Favorite athletic moment: “Going 24-0 on the freshman boys’ basketball team [in 2015-16 and] making the semifinals [of the CIF Southern California Regional Division I] playoffs in volleyball in 2017.”
Week in review: Chalmers led Newport Harbor to a third-place finish at the Century Elks Holiday Classic in Santa Ana last week. He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in a 61-45 win against Pacifica.
JOSH CRISWELL is a contributor to Times Community News. Follow him on Twitter: @joshccriswell