Virgen: Time to honor Yardley again

This very well could be the season of Yardley.

George Yardley, a star basketball player out of Newport Harbor High, was recently honored by the school as he was inducted into its Hall of Fame. Now, the tournament bearing his name begins Thursday at Newport Harbor, a school that the original, "Bird," loved dearly.

The George Yardley Summer Basketball Tournament runs through Sunday with a break for Independence Day on Friday.

In his prime, the late Yardley rocked the old-school short-cut shorts and used an aggressive offensive game that made him one of the great players of his day.

He definitely had game. It's the type that would catch a fan's attention even today because he played with such flair.

The guy's in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the first NBA player to score 2,000 points in a season.

It's no wonder he was part of Newport Harbor's inaugural class for the school's Hall of Fame. It's no wonder he has a tournament named after him.

He was celebrated at the school during a special Hall of Fame ceremony that was done well on June 19. Everyone in the place cheered loudly for the Bird. He died in 2004 due to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) but his spirit lives on in Newport Beach and it was evident at the ceremony.

The concept of a Hall of Fame at Newport Harbor appeared long overdue. The induction of Yardley only brought more credence to that thought.

The Yardley tournament is also a great honor for him. The squeaks from sneakers, and the high-fives after well-executed fast breaks will also be an apt tribute to Yardley.

Newport Harbor hopes to play like Yardley and score a lot of points. The Sailors open the tournament against Santa Margarita Thursday at 11 a.m. Costa Mesa, Sage Hill School and Mater Dei are also in the 16-team tournament.

Costa Mesa takes on Tesoro in the first round at 12:15 p.m. Sage Hill starts against Mission Viejo at 6:30 p.m. Mater Dei ends the first-day action against Jurupa Hills at 7:45 p.m.

The championship game takes place on Sunday at 6:45 p.m.

Orange Lutheran, Fountain Valley, El Toro, Esperanza, Edison, West Torrance, San Clemente and Perris are also competing in the tournament.

Newport Harbor basketball will stay busy this summer with its third annual Sailor Basketball Camp for boys and girls grades third through eighth. The camp, directed by experienced basketball coaches, begins July 21 and runs through July 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Newport Harbor.

The cost is $175 per person and includes a camp T-shirt. For contact information, visit

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