NEWPORT BEACH — The inbound play that burned Newport Harbor High on Friday in a Sunset League opener is the one the team watched on film and walked through during practice.
Before Edison ran the play, Coach Bob Torribio and his staff yelled at the Sailors, warning them about it.
"No lob! No lob! No lob!" Torribio screamed as Edison prepared to inbound the ball from midcourt in a tied game with 1.9 seconds left to play, plenty of time for the Chargers to go to their bread-and-butter play.
In these types of situations, Coach Rich Boyce has run the backdoor lob for years. This time, he diagramed it a little differently.
Instead of one screen, the Chargers set two. The first confused the Sailors and the second one finished them off, allowing Edison to pull out a 67-65 victory on the road.
The Sailors looked on in disbelief. They couldn't believe what just had happened, a couple of seconds after Nic Sargeant had tied the game at 65-65 with a three-pointer. Their 20-8 run in the last five minutes wasn't enough to send the game into overtime.
Josh Harr's inbound pass found AJ Garrity near the basket, and Garrity quickly converted the layup at the buzzer. The buzzer-beater hurt the Sailors (8-8, 0-1 in league), who have dropped three straight league openers, and gave a young Edison (9-7, 1-0) team confidence.
"It comes down to little things in Sunset League play," Torribio said. "We knew [the backdoor lob] was coming right there, and then we still just couldn't defend them."
The Sailors used one of their biggest players, 6-foot-5 Brian Robbs, to defend the inbound pass.
Somehow, Harr was able to get it over Robbs' outstretched hands and into the hands of Garrity. Where he caught the pass, near the right block, it was crowded, but not enough to alter Garrity's game-winning shot.
The setback was the Sailors' closest this season. They have struggled since they began the season winning six of their first seven games.
While Newport Harbor is 2-7 in its last nine games, Edison is beginning to play well. The Chargers have won six of eight games.
Both teams go back to work in nonleague games Saturday at 7 p.m. Edison plays host to Torrance and Newport Harbor to Estancia.
The Sailors will look to get their 7-foot center, Kevin Rakestraw, involved offensively. The senior didn't take a shot until 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.
He was in foul trouble early, but Torribio said that wasn't the reason why Rakestraw couldn't get going.
"[In] league play, everybody knows your tendencies," Torribio said. "They're going to put a guy on Kevin and be physical with him."
Edison's strategy worked against Rakestraw, who finished with a season-low four points, to go with 10 rebounds. He did come up with a key putback with 75 seconds left to play, cutting the Chargers' lead to five.
Newport Harbor guard Zach Wade scored seven of his 18 points in the final quarter and Sargeant six of his game-high 20 points. Four of Sargeant's points came in a 17-second span late. The biggest was the three he nailed with five seconds to go.
The Chargers called a timeout right after, leaving them with 4.3 seconds to make something happen. They barely got the ball past halfcourt and called another timeout with 1.9 seconds left, setting up their offense closer to the basket.
The move worked. The Chargers went to their backdoor lob play, first setting a screen for Derek Molina, who started the fourth on fire, knocking down two threes and racing in twice for layups.
"It looked like he was going to take the shot right away," Boyce said of Molina, who led Edison with 19 points on six-of-10 shooting. "They jumped [Molina] a little bit and that created just a little opening [for Harr] to get the ball to Garrity."
Edison 67, Newport Harbor 65
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Edison 15 – 14 – 16 – 22 — 67
Newport 11 – 15 – 15 – 24 — 65
E – Molina 19, Jake Harr 12, Barton 7, Garrity 6, Ivey 6, Baker-Arend 6, Brunelli 5, Josh Harr 5, Aschoff 1.
3-pt. goals – Jake Harr 4, Molina 3, Barton 1, Ivey 1, Josh Harr 1.
Fouled out – Barton.
NH – Sargeant 20, Wade 18, Rettig 12, Bockrath 6, Rakestraw 4, Okey 3, Robbs 2.
3-pt. goals – Sargeant 3, Bockrath 2, Rettig 1.
Fouled out – None.